The theme for Sexual Violence Awareness Month 2018, #RespectMeToo, encourages consensual, safe, equal and respectful relationships free from sexual violence.
Consent is a mutual verbal, physical, and emotional agreement that happens without manipulation or threat. It is a whole body experience, not just a verbal “yes” or “no”. It involves paying attention to your partner as a person and checking in with physical and emotional cues as well.
Consent is also mutual (both people have to agree) and must be continuous. You can stop at any time, you can change your mind, and just because you said yes to one thing doesn’t mean you have consented to anything else. It is important to seek enthusiastic consent and to check in with your partner before and during engage in any sexual activities.
Boundaries are people’s guidelines, rules or limits that identify reasonable, safe and permissible ways for other people to behave towards them. A healthy relationship respects each other’s physical, emotional, verbal, cultural and sexual boundaries.
Your body belongs to you and nobody has the right to own, touch or make inappropriate comments about your body without your consent.
There is a role for both men and women in the promotion of equal and respectful relationships. You can champion equality in your everyday interactions with you family, friends and peers by calling out sexist behaviours or comments and taking action to provide equal opportunity for both women and men in society. Men also have a vital role to play in understanding the position of power they hold in society and how this affects gender equality.
The Queensland Sexual Assault Network encourages respectful relationships regardless of yours, or the other person’s, cultural background, gender, ability or sexual orientation.
The right to change my mind
You must seek consent from a person before and during engagement in any sexual activities. That person has the right to say “no” or to CHANGE THEIR MIND at any point. If you engage in sexual activities without consent from the other person this is considered sexual assault or rape.
My feelings are valid
It is important that we check in with how we are feeling on a regular basis and particularly when engaging in sexual interactions. We need to listen to our body and feelings and slow down or stop if we need to.
Open communication is important in our relationships with others, particularly in our sexual relationships. We need to build trust and respect in our relationships so that we feel safe to communicate our sexual boundaries, limits, desires and hopes. We also need to listen to and respect our partner’s boundaries and to pay attention to their non-verbal communication. It is important to check-in with our partner during sexual interactions and to continue to seek consent throughout.
We can promote safe and respectful relationships by celebrating our diversities and learning from each other.
Consent or rape
You must seek consent from a person before and during engagement in any sexual activities. A person cannot consent when they are intoxicated, unconscious or asleep. If you engage in sexual activities without consent from the other person this is considered sexual assault or rape.
Taking care of myself
Looking after our bodies is important for our wellbeing. We can take care of our bodies by eating well, exercising and getting good quality sleep and relaxation. We also need to spend time participating in activities we enjoy and engaging with people that treat us with care and respect.
Accepting my decision
You must seek consent from a person before and during engaging in any sexual activities. That person has the right to say “NO” or to change their mind at any point. If you try or engage in sexual activities without consent from the other person this is considered sexual assault or rape.
Call out your mates
Every time someone makes a sexist comment or engages in sexist behaviour, it becomes more acceptable, lessens people’s respect for women, and erodes women’s self-worth. Sexist and discriminatory behaviour also contributes to a culture of violence and sexual violence. You can make the difference by calling out your mates for sexist behaviours. For further information about how to step up against sexist behaviour visit https://www.theline.org.au/how-to-guide-to-stepping-up-against-sexist-behaviour
Listening to my body
Our bodies are often providing us with lots of information throughout the day. They tell us when we feel happy, relaxed and calm or when we are stressed, depressed or overwhelmed. Notice how is your breathing and heartbeat? Can you feel any tension in your body? Do you feel hot or cold, energetic or tired? It is important that we stop and spend time listening to our body’s cues so we know when we need to self-care, slowdown or to get moving.
Seeking help and support from others is important for our self-care. We can seek support from our family and friends, local communities and support services. There is always someone you can reach out to for help!
The legal age
The legal age for consent for having sex in Queensland is 16. This strict age limit is in place to help protect young people from harm. It’s unlawful to engage in any sexual activities with someone who is under the age of 16. To find out more visit: http://www.legalaid.qld.gov.au/Find-legal-information/Relationships-and-children/Relationships/Having-sex#WhencanIhavesex
Objectifying women involves treating a women as a commodity or object. Sexual objectification involves treating a women as a sexual object or possession rather than as a person and our equal. Objectification and sexual objectification contributes to a culture of violence and sexual violence.
Every time someone makes a sexist comment or discriminates on the basis of gender, it becomes more acceptable, lessens people’s respect for women, and erodes women’s self-worth. Sexist and discriminatory behaviour also contributes to a culture of violence and sexual violence. For further information about how to step up against sexist behaviour visit https://www.theline.org.au/how-to-guide-to-stepping-up-against-sexist-behaviour
It might feel awkward to call out a mate who disrespects women, but saying something says something. Respect women #callitout. To learn more go to https://respectvictoria.vic.gov.au/community.htmlhttps://www.respectvictoria.vic.gov.au/campaigns/respect-women-call-it-out
The phrase “Me too” was tweeted by Milano around noon on October 15, 2017, and had been used more than 200,000 times by the end of the day, and tweeted more than 500,000 times by October 16. On Facebook, the hashtag was used by more than 4.7 million people in 12 million posts during the first 24 hours. This viral movement has made it all too clear how pervasive sexual violence is in our society. It is not up to survivors speak up to prevent or end sexual violence. A very simple solution is to practice consent. Sexual violence is everyone’s problem and we need everyone on board to end sexual violence in our communities.
It has been said that ‘men are afraid women will laugh at them, and women are afraid men will kill them.’ How do you feel about this statement? In this episode our men discuss how they relate to women, adding a much needed male point of view to the discussion surrounding gender equality.
MEMES MEMES MEMES
Wouldn’t it be GREAT to live in a society where we treat each other as equals? Respect means having consideration for the feelings, wishes and rights of others. Everyone deserves to live in a society where we treat each other with these basic courtesies. Disrespectful and unequal relationships in society contributes to a culture or violence and sexual violence.
Respect involves having consideration for the feelings, wishes and rights of others. Being disrespected is hurtful and harmful. Gender equality means that women and men, and girls and boys, enjoy the same rights, resources, opportunities and protections. Research shows that societies that have higher levels of gender equality and respectful relationships are happier, healthier and more prosperous – which benefits both men and women.
There are some people who think that feminism and the need to highlight women’s rights is no longer necessary. Unfortunately the statistics regarding women’s exposure to sexual violence and other gender based violence paints a very different picture. We should all wish for a society where people feel safe to live their lives without violence. Respecting each other is a good place to start.
People who use derogative and disrespectful language when referring to women perpetuate the belief that women have less rights than men. A good way to check in on whether something is disrespectful to women is to imagine the woman being spoken about is a woman you admire or respect, or to flip the comment/ joke to make it about males. If you feel offended, it’s disrespectful! Disrespectful and unequal relationships in society contributes to a culture or violence and sexual violence.
Sometimes we unintentionally hurt others by failing to have consideration for their feelings, wishes, or rights. When this happens it’s important to acknowledge that although it wasn’t your intention to be disrespectful, we are sorry for the pain our actions caused. This is not about laying blame, it’s about creating a world where people feel safe with each other.