COLUMBUS, Ohio (WCMH) — Enthusiastic consent eliminates doubt so there is no confusion over whether someone has said “yes” to sexual activity, an Ohio State University professor said.
In November, six people at OSU reported being raped in on-campus residence halls. According to an NBC4 analysis, three rapes were reported in August, with two occurring that month; nine in September, with five that month; and 11 in October, with nine that month.
“I think what people need to be taught is that you can’t assume that there’s consent unless you’ve asked and got an answer enthusiastically,” said Zoe Brigley, an assistant professor who researches gender studies and violence against women.
“A silence might mean no, and if someone is obviously unhappy — or not pleased with what’s happened — then that also means no. It’s not unsexy to ask someone, ‘Are you happy with what’s happening?’ It’s not unsexy to check in with someone and to make sure that you have that consent. In fact, it can be something that is really meaningful.”
According to the Annual Crime Report that is federally required under the Clery Act, OSU rapes were primarily reported as happening in the residence halls. Brigley said ensuring there is enthusiastic consent takes the blame off the victim.
“What’s important about the enthusiastic consent is that usually, in discourse around sexual violence, there’s so much scrutiny on the person who survived it — why did you do this? Why did you do that?” she said.
“Actually, what we should be scrutinizing, is the person who committed the violence. We should be saying: ‘why didn’t you get enthusiastic consent?’ It takes the blaming culture off of the person who’s been harmed.”
“Lots of people cite the cup of tea meme which goes round the internet. It’s not absolutely perfect, but what it does show you is how ridiculous it is when you think about it — would you give someone a cup of tea when they’re sleeping? No, of course you wouldn’t. Then, you know, you shouldn’t have sex with someone if they’re sleeping,” said Brigley.
“It just kind of draws attention to how ludicrous it is that we even contemplate that this kind of activity is OK. If someone changed their mind and said, I don’t want a cup of tea after all, you wouldn’t have a problem with it. You’d completely understand. And you wouldn’t force them to have a cup of tea. It’s the same thing as sexual activity,” Brigley said.
Rape and sexual assault are more prevalent during the early weeks of fall semester. This is called “the red zone,” Molly Peirano, Director of Education and Engagement at the Office of Institutional Equity, said in an interview with NBC4.
“We want to make sure people know the information before they get here, which is how we’re trying to combat sexual violence at the beginning of the year,” Peirano said.
This interactive map shows where on campus rapes have been reported this year. You can track these in real time by following the campus police logs.
Map provided by Ben Orner, graphics by Stephanie Thompson. Additional reporting by Jamie Ostroff.
Rapes and Ohio State University
NBC4 ran a series of reports on rapes at Ohio State the week of Nov. 29, 2021: