A STUDENT at the University of Warwick in the UK has divided opinion online after speaking out against being invited to sex consent training lessons - a move, he says, was 'the biggest insult I've received in a good few years'.
Writing in online student publication The Tab, politics and sociology student George Lawlor described how he was excited to receive an invite to what he thought was a social event, but says his crushing disappointment quickly melted away to be overcome by anger when he realised what he was being invited to.
Having acknowledged how people should only interact with mutual agreement, he said he still found the invitation to be loathsome, adding:
"It implies I have an insufficient understanding of what does and does not constitute consent and that's incredibly hurtful. I can't stress that enough."
The communications secretary for Warwick's Conservative Association continued how he felt he was taking the 'wrong' side by speaking out and continued:
"But someone has to say it - I don't have to be taught to not be a rapist. That much comes naturally to me, as I am sure it does to the overwhelming majority of people you and I know. Brand me a bigot, a misogynist, a rape apologist, I don't care. I stand by that."
However, the student's piece didn't go down well with a lot of people who took to Twitter to blast him for his outlook, with one male user writing:
"George Lawlor, you are a f*****g idiot, and your article is offensive to women and an embarrassment to men."
And the tweets didn't stop there.
However, one user did see where Lawlor was coming from:
Can understand how George Lawlor may find it personally insulting to be taught about consent, but many need to learn http://t.co/qAweM5MO8q— Brogan Driscoll (@Brogan_Driscoll) October 14, 2015
Another user, on reddit, wrote: "This kid is so right on. The people holding these sessions are just trying to make themselves feel good, while making no real difference in their echo chamber. It's about time university students like him started speaking up. Hope more are inspired to follow his example."
Shortly after Lawlor's article surfaced, Warwick's women's officer and one of the organisers of the 'I Heart Consent' workshops, Josie Throup, also took to The Tab to write how she was angry at reading Lawlor's piece, adding how she was not sorry her workshop made him feel uncomfortable.
She explained: "The first time I was confronted with the statistic that 80 per cent of rape survivors know their attacker, I felt the same."
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Making reference to the sign Lawlor held up in his picture which accompanied the article - and counteracting with a similar one of her own - Throup added: "He took a picture with a sign, proclaiming 'This is not what a rapist looks like', when the truth is, it is.
"I'm not saying this writer himself has sexually assaulted someone but he seems to believe there is a particular profile of person that would, who's too busy lurking in the shadows somewhere to attend a consent workshop."
Lawlor was not immediately available for comment, however, addressing the criticism he drew with Metro.co.uk, Lawlor said he felt he didn't need to go to the event, and people he knows didn't need to either.
He added: "People will say that's because I live a privileged white middle class lifestyle. They may be right, they may be wrong. But I feel as though their efforts are wasted."
What do you think about this? Do you agree with George Lawlor? Would being invited to such an event be an insult? Or should Australia look at introducing sex consent training lessons?
Join our daily watercooler by leaving a comment below.
What you're saying on Facebook:
John Duffy: "Ludicrous! This is the role of parents from an early age - not teachers in adolescence/aduthood.
If the parents don't feel competent to raise their children correctly, refer them to people they trust who can (church, counsellors, teachers). I would be offended myself."
Kristy Biggs: "Good on him. Whats good for the goose isnt always good for that gander."
Kylie Ballard: "We should deffinetly introduce this in australia because men need to learn what consent is clearly as they either dont know what it is or dont care."
Gil Burgh: "George Lawlor seems to think that 'trust me, I'm not a rapist' is enough! What's to be insulted about? Is he not aware that consent is an issue, and that very fact implies that men need to be educated? If attending a session is such an insult or inconvenience to him, what does that say about his attitude toward women? Would he prefer that women attend sessions on how to avoid rape? If such programs can make a contribution to men's understanding of consent, and could contribute to one less man being a threat to women or change one man's attitude towards women, then what is he objecting to? All this suggests that he, indeed, does need to be educated!"
Libbi Wright: "Yes, it's a little insulting, but is it any less insulting than the 'don't get raped' lessons we women are subjected to from the moment we slap on a skirt at ages as young as 9/10?
"If consent wasn't an issue, we wouldn't be trained from childhood to repel those who don't adhere to it. We literally get told from as young as 7 or 8 years old to sit a certain way, dress a certain way, act a certain way so as to not make ourselves a target, because apparently our consent means nothing. We're made to feel that sexual assault and rape is our fault because of how we act or dress, that we bring it on ourselves because saying no isn't enough.
"It's constant, it's in the subtext of movies and songs and televisions shows. So many people will respond to news of a woman being harassed or indecently assaulted with 'well look at what she was wearing' or 'what was she doing in that neighbourhood/at that party' 'oh but they're dating so it's not rape' etc.
Short skirts and low cut tops don't cause rape to happen, rapists cause rape to happen. Refusing consent wasnt enough.
"It's a good start, but lets not forget that male on male and female on male rape is a reality.
"I sincerely hope women are also made to take these lessons because the lines of consent are seriously blurred for some women and they aren't prosecuted (or prosecuted to the same extent) because men are made to feel week or inferior for reporting it. This is not ok.
"In short, yes a little insulting, but necessary because rape is a reality, I just hope that women are taking these classes too, because everyone has the right to refuse consent, even men."
Ben Clark: "Argh. That sign - that's exactly the point; that is what a rapist looks like. We have a huge problem and education is key if we're going to move forward."
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