It has been a week since the latest Tab ‘victory’ swept the media headlines: George Lawler’s abhorrent article on consent classes.
George Lawler is a student at the university of Warwick who, to his horror, received a Facebook invitation to attend a consent class at the university.
Instead of taking the “insult” on the chin, George threw a tantrum. The resulting word-vomit graced many of our news feeds and provided The Tab’s gleeful editors with yet another article to dangle in front of students in order to wind them up and fulfil their ‘like’ quota.
He said: ‘To be invited to such a waste of time was the biggest insult I’ve received in a good few years’. If that’s the case, he must live a very sheltered life.
However, I do agree with George on one point. If you’re the sort of person to disregard consent, you’re hardly going to want to go to a workshop on it. There are only two ways I can see around this: mandatory consent lessons at university, or consent lessons taught alongside sex education in schools.
I’m sure mandatory lessons at uni would infuriate a lot of people, so that’s perhaps not the best option. However, incorporating it into sex education would be a suitable and effective alternative. If children were taught about consent early on (I believe I had my first sex education lesson in year six) it would get the issue into people’s heads when their minds are still malleable and open to different concepts and ways of thinking (and before any of the bigoted or misogynistic views kick in).
I couldn’t help but laugh at George’s picture accompanying the article. It shows him holding up a piece of paper with the words “This is not what a rapist looks like”.
His lack of understanding is staggering. He is exactly what most rapists look like. Of course, I’m not saying he is one, but the thing is, you can’t look at someone and tell if they are a rapist. Rapists don’t have crooked teeth and a scar down their face. They aren’t burly and brutish-looking. They look normal. They could be an unassuming university student. They could be a friend, or a friend of a friend.
I feel the worst part of his article isn’t when he brands people’s efforts to reduce the staggeringly high number of sexual assaults at uni as a waste of time and that people “deserve better than [them]”. Neither is it his woeful misunderstanding as to who most commonly commits rape. It’s the fact that he is styling himself as the victim in this scenario.
The real victims are the women (and men) who suffer in every university in the country (Russell Group or not). The real victims wake up to find their clothes ripped open after a house party. The real victims have to wake up every day and live with the results of someone’s lack of understanding, or flagrant disregard, for consent.
Rape is a serious, life-destroying issue. Stop making it about you.