Consent: The conversation that we STILL need to urgently have.

After some students at Saint Mary’s University posted video of a frosh week chant online about sex with underage girls without consent, Jeff Perera shares a few words on the work we still must do to inspire young men to become models of respect and character.

Saint Mary's University frosh chant cheers underage sex - Nova Scotia - CBC News

TRIGGER WARNING *Click the image above to watch coverage that includes video of the chant.*

tra·di·tion

[truh-dish-uhn]  noun

1. The Handing down of statements, beliefs, legends, customs, information, etc., from generation to generation, especially by word of mouth or practice
2. Something that is handed down
3. A long-established or inherited way of thinking or acting: The rebellious students wanted to break with tradition
4. A continuing pattern of culture beliefs or practices.

 

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Friends, this is it.

This is why women are fed up.
This is why young women have secrets to hide, secrets to tell.
This is why women’s organizations cannot rest.
This is a song celebrating sexual assault.
This is a reminder as to why conversations about consent still need to happen.
This is where the majority of good men and young men need to step up and do something.

This is why the work we do at White Ribbon is so urgent.

 

“A 15-second video posted to Instagram on Monday shows orientation week leaders leading a cheer …on a crowded football field they shout out, “Y is for your sister [...] U is for underage, N is for no consent [...] Saint Mary’s boys we like them young. Students said the chant has been used at frosh week for years.” – CBC News

…for years.

This is your wake up call. This should be enough. When will it be enough? We are tired of hearing variations of this same old song, but we’ve been down this road before.

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These truths are not new, from the heartbreaking stories of Amanda Todd and Rehtaeh Parsons, to the thousands of young women living everyday with street harassment, fear of sexual assault and harassment, or unspeakable stories tucked away inside. These experiences, and events are now captured and openly shared via smartphones and on social media platforms, consistently shared by those acting with no consideration of the impact or consequence of their actions.

There is an urgent conversation that we still need to have with young people on campuses and in schools everywhere: conversations about the everyday pressures young men feel to fit in, harmful actions and attitudes around the roles for young women and what is expected of young men, toxic ideas of what it means to successfully be a man: success at the expense of women’s safety and lives.

Some young men today are adhering to decayed codes of manhood that train them to use women as a stepping stone, a rung on a ladder for men to achieve a hollow status, acceptance and identity.

This is tradition, a tradition handed down and held up …mostly by our silence.

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These are traditions that unfortunately continue on for decades within student spaces across North America. Take for example the shameful tradition by some male students at Queens University in a picture which an alumni member pointed out to me:

(1) Jeff Perera annually, the Queen's University... - Nicholas Nickleby

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Another alumni member said “ I remember driving to the campus with my parents in ’97 for first year, and seeing posters along the highway that read things like ‘Fathers, thank you for your daughters‘. It was pretty brutal. Sad and mad to see this still happening.”  I’m by the sounds of chants like the Delta Kappa Epsilon fraternity pledges near the women’s first year dorms at Yale University of “No Means Yes, Yes Means Anal!” I ask the question again and again: For our young men and boys today, is growing up an ascent or descent into Manhood?

What do you want it to be? What are you doing about it? This is why folks like us at White Ribbon and other organizations keep talking about inspiring men, young men and boys to embrace the role they can play to make a difference regarding consent, street harassment and sexual assault. It’s why we are helping men reject fragile ideas of manhood that are held up by narrow ideas of successfully being a man.

Here is an interview I did on CBC Metro Morning on young men and consent.

Rehtaeh Parsons and Enthusiastic Consent - White Ribbon
Let’s talk to young men about CONSISTENT ENTHUSIASTIC REAL CONSENT. Let’s talk about how ‘The World Is Yours’ is a false dream men are taught to chase, a chase that is destroying us all. Let’s inspire young men to consider consequences, and embrace modelling change. Let’s work harder to make our universities and colleges a place where everyone can work, live and study (regardless of gender identity, who they love or who they are) and bring their best to the table, realizing the best version of themselves.
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If you aren’t part of the problem what are you doing to be part of a solution? Whether it’s embrace the role you play as a role model to youth, or to do some self-reflection then discover ways to support or start an effort to engage men…. let’s do it friends.
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It’s not about shaming young men into submission, but inspiring the majority of them who do want things to be different for themselves as well as women and young women. Manhood does not equal Domination. The majority of young men are sick and tired of the behaviour, attitudes and actions of a few bad men and the impact they have on both women and men. It’s time to engage them on how they can help be a part of change that affects everyone.
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Together, we can instill a new tradition of manhood.
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