Booze, Booty Shaking, and Back Room Hookups: Making College Party Culture Sex Positive

I get to participate in some pretty awesome conversations as part of my work.

One of my favorites, though, is when I get to talk to college students about what makes for a mind-blowing, talk-about-it-for-years party.

I ask the question, and students just start shouting out things like:

“The perfect DJ!” “Everybody’s dancing!” “Booze.” “Drugs.” “Some non-alcoholic drinks/mixers.” “Sexy ladies!” “Sexier men!” “No drama.” “Food.” “Sex!”  “Everybody’s gettin’ lucky!” “SEX!”

Let’s be honest: By and large, one of the only things that college students love more than partying and sex is talking about partying and sex.

What’s phenomenal about this conversation, though, is the opportunity it provides to extend the dialogue beyond beer bongs, booty shaking, and backroom hookups.It provides an entry into a conversation about positive sexuality and sexual violence prevention.

With rare exceptions, no one who is throwing a party spends the time, energy, and money so that people will get assaulted. Yet there is a clear connection betweencollege party culture and sexual violence.

After all, 74% of perpetrators of sexual violence on college campuses were under the influence of alcohol when they committed the assault, and 55% of survivors of sexual violence on campuses were under the influence of alcohol when assaulted.

Unfortunately, on college campuses,  this dialogue translates too often into shaming and blaming of survivors for their decisions to drink or approaches to“prevention” that place the onus on potential “victims” to keep themselves from getting raped.

And to mitigate the risk, most colleges simply take a punitive approach (with varying levels of alcohol education – which is fantastic – thrown in) to alcohol on campus.

But it doesn’t have to be that way.

In fact, we need to see college partying and the terrifying link to sexual violence as an opening to a different kind of conversation about the social time our young people are spending on college campuses or anywhere for that matter.

Shifting to Sex Positivity

Most of the college students that I work with have never heard of the concept of sex positivity.  I know I sure hadn’t when I started college.

But in any conversation about sex with young people, when I introduce the definition I work from, the tone shifts considerably, no matter how we were discussing sex before.

Here’s the definition I’m working from:

Sex positivity refers to positive, affirming, consensual sexual relationships, characterized by open, honest communication and attention to the needs and desires of oneself and one’s partner(s).

Sounds amazing, right?

Well, most of the young people I get to work with on college campuses all over the US think so, too!

So when I tell them that it’s possible to make simple changes to your average party environment that make it more sex positive, they are pumped!

But every now and then, I have the skeptical workshop participant (usually a dude, but not always) who says something to the effect of “It sounds like one giant cock-block to me.”

But without fail, whenever this sentiment is expressed, I don’t even have to respond!

Last time this happened, a young woman explained, “Unless you’re looking to rape somebody, this sounds like the opposite of a cock block. Nothing sounds hotter than dancing with someone at a party only to learn that they are a great kisser who asks first!”

Undoubtedly, we have to spend some time and energy thinking about the worst case scenario, understanding and exposing predators, and taking preventative precautions.

But sexual violence prevention, particularly as it relates to parties, can (and must)be so much more than that!

What Does Sex-Positive Partying Look Like?

Read the rest at Everyday Feminism.

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Baby It’s Cold Outside: A Rapey, Sexual Pressure-Filled Holiday Staple

For as long as I can remember, my favorite Christmas song has always been “Baby It’s Cold Outside.”  I especially love the version from “Elf.”

elf-zooey-deschanel

It has always been such a part of my holiday tradition that I never really thought about it critically.  That is until I was training to be a sexual assault survivor’s advocate.  An article we read about sexual pressure and consent happened to fall right after Thanksgiving, when I usually start listening to terrible Christmas music.  After reading the article, “Baby It’s Cold Outside” came on, and I was shocked!

My realization: This is a song about a sleazy, rapey dude sexually pressuring a woman into staying!!!!!

I mean, LOOK!

Dude is literally grabbing her by the arm and stealing her coat and hat from her!

I am definitely not the first to notice this.  Salon had a great piece from Salon titled, “Is ‘Baby It’s Cold Outside’ a Date-Rape Anthem?

Well, after reading this piece whereby Rob Delaney attempts to have a dialogue with Katy Perry in “Last Friday Night,” I thought it was time I had a chat with the duo of “Baby It’s Cold Outside.”

Alright, y’all, it’s time we had a conversation…

    • I really can’t stay
    • And girl, if you need to go, you go on ahead and be clear about that.  He needs to listen.
    • I’ve got to go away
    • This evening has been
    • So very nice
    • My mother will start to worry
    • And does she know where you are?  Does anyone? Because Dude is getting a little handsy.
    • My father will be pacing the floor
    • So really I’d better scurry
    • Well maybe just a half a drink more
    • Okay, that’s cool. Thank you for communicating clearly. You always have the right to change your mind, give or withdraw consent.
    • The neighbors might think
    • Hey now, if slut shaming is the issue, don’t worry. What needs to go into your decision is whether you want to stay and get a little frisky. If the neighbors wanna talk, f*ck them.
    • Say, what’s in this drink
  • Baby it’s cold outside
  • No . . . No . . . Your response now is, “Oh, okay.  Well, I would love for you to stay, but if you have to go, let me call you a cab. Or I can give you a ride home!”
  • Baby it’s cold outside
  • Been hoping that you’d drop in
  • I’ll hold your hands, they’re just like ice
  • Beautiful, what’s your hurry
  • Dude, she said she needs to go. It’s not a hurrying issue.
  • Listen to the fireplace roar
  • Beautiful, please don’t hurry
  • Again with the “hurry!” There shouldn’t have to be any convincing! If she’s DTF, she’s DTF.  If she wants to go, enough with the pressure!
  • Put some music on while I pour
  • Baby, it’s bad out there
  • Dude, you need to talk to your neighbors. Sounds like they could use to hear from the folks at HollaBack.
  • No cabs to be had out there

WOAH!!!! HOLD THE GODDAMN PHONE!!!  Dude, did you put something in her drink?  And your response to her questioning what you put in her drink is to say she can’t get a cab???  Ma’am, if that drink tastes funny, toss it the f*uck out.  We need to call you a cab! Right now!!!

    • I wish I knew how
    • To break the spell
    • That is not a spell!  This is not Harry Potter!  That’s a drug called Rohyphenol, and this sh*t is serious!
    • I ought to say no, no, no, sir
    • At least I’m gonna say that I tried
    • As you should!  You did try!  You said no!  You said you needed to leave!  And now he’s gone and put something in your drink!!
    • I really can’t stay
    • Ahh, but it’s cold outside
    • I simply must go
    • The answer is no
    • This welcome has been
    • So nice and warm
    • My sister will be suspicious
    • My brother will be there at the door
    • My maiden aunt’s mind is vicious
    • Well maybe just a half a drink more
    • At this point, I just have to question your ability to make this decision. If you want another drink, that’s your prerogative, but considering there’s a question about your last drink, are you in a state to be able to consent to anything, even a half a drink?
    • I’ve got to go home
    • Say, lend me your coat
    • You’ve really been grand
    • But don’t you see
    • There’s bound to be talk tomorrow
    • At least there will be plenty implied
    • Again, if this is about slut shaming, you go on ahead and do what you want, but it seems to be that this decision would be made under great duress.
    • really can’t stay
    • Ahh, but it’s cold outside
    • It’s cold out there
    • Well…..I really shouldn’t…alright
    • Ahh, do that again….
  • Your eyes are like starlight
  • I’ll take your hat, your hair looks swell
  • Did she ask you to take her hat?  She’s concerned there’s something in her drink, and you’re taking her hat!? I think it’s time to call the cops.
  • Mind if I move closer
  • What’s the sense in hurting my pride?
  • See, now you’re using guilt to pressure her.  Who gives a f*ck about your pride!?
  • Baby don’t hold out
  • Ahh, but it’s cold outside
  • Baby, it’s cold outside
  • Ooh darling, it’s cold outside
  • Okay, I am only going to say this one time.  She said no.  You know what no means, right?  Yeah, it means NO.
  • I’m lucky that you dropped in
  • Look out the window at that storm
  • Man, your lips look delicious
  • You’re just creepy at this point.
  • Waves upon a tropical shore
  • Gosh your lips are delicious
  • Wait, did you just steal a kiss?  I didn’t hear any consent, and everything she’s been saying tells me that she’s not ready for that.
  • Never such a blizzard before
  • Oh, baby, you’ll freeze out there
  • It’s up to your knees out there
  • I thrill when you touch my hand
  • How can you do this thing to me?
  • Think of my life long sorrow
  • If you caught pneumonia and died
  • QUIT GUILTING HER!  What, are you going to use “blue balls” next?
  • Get over that hold out
  • So you’ve stopped the sly convincing, and now you’re just demanding she get over her desire to leave?  Dude, you are a bad person!
  • Ahh, but it’s cold outside
  • Brr its cold…
  • Cant you stay awhile longer baby
  • Make it worth your while baby

At this point, I can’t help but wonder if we need some bystander intervention. Ma’am, you’ve been taking about things in your drink, and after resisting OVER and OVER and OVER, dude didn’t listen. He needs to understand that wearing down a woman’s will is not an acceptable way to achieve “consent.” That is not, in fact, consent. Enough!