This language just serves the status quo, and it is a mask for problematic behavior that needs to get addressed if we want to develop a better understanding of sexual dynamics.”That said, when it comes to consent specifically, acknowledging supposed “gray areas” — or, better put, the spectrum across which unwanted sexual behavior exists — might help the law catch up. The most progressive, like the “Yes Means Yes” law in California, look for “affirmative, conscious and voluntary agreement to engage in sexual activity,” while in Mississippi, a claim of sexual battery requires proof that the perpetrator was intending to rape; indeed “rape” itself is still defined as the intent to “forcibly ravish any female of previously chaste character.” Jeannie Suk Gersen, the John H. professor of law at Harvard Law School, says consent is becoming more of a touchstone in legal assessments: “The idea that someone needs to be physically forced has been de-emphasized when considering whether [an encounter] was an assault,” she says.Using consent (as opposed to force) as the litmus test is certainly a more nuanced way of looking at sexual assault; it isn’t, however, necessarily more straightforward.“What the courts are grappling with now is how we define consent,” says Gersen. ”Subjectivity complicates matters further: What is coercive to one party may have seemed consensual to the other.Our need to create some sort of “continuum of trauma” is understandable — giving a thing a name is one of the ways we try to understand our world — but our fumbling attempts to “grade” sexual assault could actually be contributing to the problem.“I think it is incredibly important to keep the idea of what we’re talking about broad,” says Gina Scaramella, executive director of the Boston Area Rape Crisis Center (BARCC).“Calling [Ansari’s reported behavior] a ‘gray area’ minimizes it, rather than calling it what it is: manipulative, coercive and aggressive.”Our tendency to play down sexually coercive behavior contributes to a culture in which survivors end up shouldering the blame.“Even if you have physical evidence and the victim is the ‘perfect’ victim and the offender is the ‘perfect’ offender, these cases rarely result in a conviction.”What the pundits and critics who rail against the excesses of the #Me Too movement don’t seem to realize is that when it comes to issues of sexual consent, any conversation is good conversation.
That’s partly because good relationships require you to be aware of other people's thoughts and feelings.
The #Me Too movement was founded by Tarana Burke to empower and give voice to the survivors of sexual crimes.
Thankfully, and unsurprisingly, it has incited a broader cultural conversation.
Role play with a friend or romantic interest to get feedback and improve social skills.
Repeat what you think you heard in a conversation, and ask if you need to know anything else. Texts, emails, and phone calls can’t give you important cues like tone of voice and eye contact you get from a direct conversation. Look at the person’s eyes and make a mental note not to interrupt. Talk to your partner openly about this and any other issues that may affect your relationship. Therapy may give you insights and tools to manage relationships.