Why do we do pronouns? To normalise the fact that you can’t always assume someone’s gender from the way they look, and to be inclusive towards trans students. It can be worthwhile suggesting, before people state their pronouns, that if someone doesn’t want to say theirs, gender neutral pronouns will be used.
1 is from Focus on Violent Crime and Sexual Offences (Office for National Statistics, 2016). 2-4 are from An Overview of Sexual Offending in England and Wales (Office for National Statistics, 2010. 5 is from Mankind UK. 6-8 are from Hidden Marks (NUS, 2010).
1. Roughly 19% of women in the UK and 4% of men have experienced sexual assault (including attempts) since they were 16...
2. Around 400,000 women are sexually assaulted and 80,000 women are raped each year in the UK...
3. 90% of rapes are perpetrated by someone the survivor already knows...
4. 57% of survivors of rape and sexual assault identify their partner as the perpetrator.
5. 3 in 20 of the UK male population have been affected at some point in their lives by sexual violence.
6. 1 in 7 university-age women experience serious sexual or physical assault during their time as a student.
7. 12% of university-age women experience stalking.
8. 68% of women attending university have experienced harassment in and around their institution.
9. Marital rape was ruled to be against English law in 1991.
Some clarifications on the statistics and on UK law are available on the myth busting section of this webpage.
Remember not to spend too long on these; the point of the workshop is not to discuss statistical methodology or the law, but to talk about consent.
My college boat club was going to another college’s bop. Our captain’s partner invited us. We had been drinking before we got there, but since we had a double practice the next day, I was not drinking too much. Looking back at the night, I would say I was in full control. I remember the night and my actions perfectly.
We had been there for around two hours. It was after 1am at this point and most people at the bop were drunk. I was slowly finishing off a drink when someone I’d met earlier that night appeared with a couple of friends and a round of shots. They downed them and then pulled me and some of my friends onto the dance floor.
That was fine, but then the person I was dancing with began dancing really close. They spun me around and looked me directly in the eye, grabbed my belt loops and gripped my crotch. I stepped back a bit and said something like, “Not tonight,” and, “I don’t know you.” They laughed, pulled me back to them, mumbled something about me being silly, and put their hand near my crotch and started trying to unzip my trousers. I pulled their hand away and told them they were really drunk and needed to stop. Their brow furrowed, and they walked off towards our other friends.
No one really saw it, but I feel really embarrassed for some reason. Did they tell their friends? I didn’t do anything to them. I just didn’t want that to happen at a bop, when he was so drunk and we didn’t really know each other.
One night in Freshers’ we had a dinner with our subject groups organised by the older years. As the dinner drew on everyone got more rowdy and someone decided to teach us about sconcing, which is like a version of never have I ever; people ‘sconce’ things, and if you’ve done them you have to drink. The sconces were mostly the second years laughing at each other, but I liked feeling like I was party to their inside jokes. They sconced specific things like ‘I sconce anyone who has slept with a member of the Harry Potter cast’ and ‘I sconce anyone who has thrown up on their tutor’. Some of it was a bit harsh but it was all funny and no one was too embarrassed or upset by it. Then someone said, ‘I sconce anyone whose boyfriend got the wrong hole’. Everyone laughed, including the girl who drank, but it looked a bit forced. She was the same girl who had been sconced for sleeping with an actor from Harry Potter, and she had laughed about that, but this seemed different. Then one of the freshers, an international student called June, said that she didn’t understand and everyone started laughing again. While they were explaining, June looked more and more uncomfortable, and the girl who had been sconced just stared at her phone.
I’ve been with my partner for about two years. We met in a bar that was popular with the LGBTQ community in our uni town. We’ve shared a lot: They were my first in a lot of respects. First gay relationship. First sexual experience.
About a year after we started dating, they asked me out on a date, like when we first started dating and planned a whole date night for us. They had put a lot of work into it. It was really romantic.
Around 11pm we headed back to my room. We had had sex before at this point, just oral sex and hand jobs. We had talked about it, agreed to it – all that stuff. But as our kissing and touching progressed to undressing and more touching, they asked about anal sex. I kissed their forehead, squirmed away, and began getting ready for bed. A few minutes later, they began kissing me again. I gave them that “not tonight” look, but they continued. I sighed, and thought that they wouldn’t stop unless we did have sex.
It was weird afterwards though. I really didn’t want to have sex, but I didn’t say anything either. When we talked it over, I explained that. They understood, and it hasn’t happened again. But it was weird, to feel pressured like that. We’re still together now, I shouldn’t still feel like this.
It happened while I was at uni. I was 19. I liked to go out a lot, to drink and have sex- that’s me. One night, a group of people from my college were at a friend’s house. They were living out as a second year. I think we had plans to go out, but we began drinking and kept drinking at my friend’s. There was someone there that I knew sort of well, we were talking and flirting. It moved to touching and kissing and before we knew it we found our way to a quiet part of the house.
I was really drunk, so the groping and pressure of their body on mine felt amazing. We kept kissing and they pulled down my pants and began touching me. Details began getting fuzzy and I’m not sure what happened after that. I do remember waking up hours later to a dark, quiet house without my skirt or underwear on. I was alone, but I was in a bed. We had sex, I’m sure of it, but it wasn’t something I agreed to. Or did I? My mum said it is what I deserve for the life I lead, and the police said it was sex regret. I’m not sure what to think. My work has suffered, and my supervisor has commented on it, though he doesn’t know what’s wrong. Maybe I should pull myself together, but I can’t stop thinking about it.
It happened around Christmas of my first year. I’m an international student and it took me a lot of my first term at Oxford to adjust to a new place. English isn’t my first language and I found some of the jokes and “banter” hard to understand.
We had been at the bar for about two hours and I was slowly finishing off my cocktail when someone I’d met earlier that night appeared with a couple of friends and a round of shots. They passed them around, and lots of people had one. Once all of the shots were gone, they pulled me some of my friends onto the dance floor.
That was fine, but then the person I was dancing with began dancing really close. They spun me around and looking me directly in the eye, grabbed my belt loops and gripped my crotch. I stepped back a bit and said something like “not tonight” and something along the lines of “I don’t know you.” They laughed, pulled me back to them, mumbled something about me being silly, and put their hand near my crotch and started trying to unzip my trousers. I pulled their hand away and told them they were really drunk and needed to stop. Their brow furrowed, and they walked off towards our other friends.
No one really saw it, but I feel really embarrassed for some reason. Did they tell their friends? I didn’t do anything to them. I just didn’t want that to happen at a bop, when they were so drunk and we didn’t really know each other.
My friend has been a bit off and quiet recently. Last week, she showed me a couple of texts and emails from her supervisor. Some of them were work-related but seemed really pushy, asking her to tell him exactly why she couldn’t meet with him at his preferred time, and making unreasonable demands at strange hours of the night. Others were different, friendlier, and some were apologetic; he said he ‘just got frustrated that someone so bright is so disorganised’. In quite a few messages he referenced her looks, saying that she was beautiful and making jokes about going on dates with her. He even told her to wear a low-cut top the next time they met, though then he said he was being ironic and just having a laugh. After all this stuff he’d get demanding again and accuse her of not working hard enough.
I’ve seen how they interact in person: he’s very touchy-feely, often gives her hugs and has this habit of touching the back of her neck to make her jump because he thinks that’s funny.
I told her it seemed a bit strange and inappropriate, but even though she’d shown me the emails and texts because she wanted my opinion on whether or not they were okay, she didn’t really take it on board. She just sort of clammed up and deflected, saying that at least he was a good supervisor, and that it was probably just his sense of humour.
I’ve been with my partner for almost five years. We met as undergraduates in a bar that was popular with the LGBTQ community in our uni town. We’ve shared a lot: getting our undergrad degrees together, coming out to our parents together, then moving to London to work for a few years after graduating. Most recently we moved to Oxford together. My partner works while I’m completing my DPhil. We are good for each other and have been discussing getting married after I finish, but there was one incident about two years ago now that still lingers in my mind, even though we’ve since talked it through.
It had been an exhausting week in the lab dealing with my frustrating post-doc and I was really tired. When I got home, my partner began kissing me in that “I want to have sex tonight” way and asked if I was up for it. I kissed their forehead, squirmed away, and began getting ready for bed. A few minutes later, they began kissing me again. I gave them that “not tonight” look, but they continued. I sighed, and thought that they wouldn’t stop unless we did have sex.
It was weird afterwards though. I really didn’t want to have sex, but I didn’t say anything either. When we talked it over, I explained that. They understood, and it hasn’t happened again. But it was weird, to feel pressured like that. We’ve been together for so long, I shouldn’t still feel like this.
It happened half way through the first year of my DPhil. I like to go out a lot, to drink and to have sex - that’s me. It’s fun to be somewhere with a fairly active LGBTQ social scene, and I’m out most weekends. One night, a group of friends from my department were at a friend’s house. I think we had plans to go out, but we kept drinking at my friend’s instead.
There was someone there that I knew sort of well, we were talking and flirting. It moved to touching and kissing and before we knew it we found our way to a quiet part of the house. I was really drunk, so the groping and pressure of their body on mine felt amazing. We kept kissing and they pulled down my pants and began touching me. Details began getting fuzzy and I’m not sure what happened after that. I do remember waking up hours later to a dark, quiet house without my skirt or underwear on. I was alone, but I was in a bed. We had sex, I’m sure of it, but it wasn’t something I agreed to. Or did I? My mum said it is what I deserve for the life I lead, and the police said it was sex regret. I’m not sure what to think. My work has suffered, and my supervisor has commented on it, though he doesn’t know what’s wrong. Maybe I should pull myself together, but I can’t stop thinking about it.
The Sexual Offences Act 2003 defines many sexual offences. It includes but is not limited to:
1. Rape: non-consensual penetration of mouth, anus or vagina with a penis.
2. Sexual assault by penetration: non-consensual penetration of anus or vagina with an object or body part other than a penis.
3. Sexual assault: intentional, non-consensual, sexual touching.
4. Causing a person to engage in sexual activity without consent. This can include masturbation or viewing sexual images. This also covers forcing someone to perform sexual penetration.
Other offences are detailed in the Sexual Offences Act 2003 have to do with children and the effect of age on consent and/or the legal severity of an offence.
Section 74 of the Sexual Offences Act 2003 defines consent. Someone consents only if they agree by choice to an activity and have the freedom and capacity to make that choice. Consent to sexual activity may be given to one sort of sexual activity but not another, e.g.to vaginal but not anal sex; it can also be subject to conditions, such as wearing a condom.
Consent can be withdrawn at any time during sexual activity and each time activity occurs.
It is important to note that while these definitions are important, they may not be how a survivor chooses to think of their experiences. There is a difference between legal definition and emotional impact. Many people also criticise the specific inclusion of penises in the definition of rape as cisnormative (failing to include or consider trans people) and heteronormative (failure to include all aspects of LGBTQ+ sex)
The act is available to read here: http://www.legislation.gov.uk/ukpga/2003/42/contents
For self-identifying women
01865 726 295 / 0800 783 6294
Mon & Thurs: 6.30pm – 9.00pm
Fri: 11.30am – 2.00pm
Police House, Queens Ave, Bicester, OX26 2NR
0300 130 3036
For male survivors of sexual abuse
0845 122 1201
Mon & Tues: 7.00pm – 9.30pm
Thurs: 12.00pm – 2.30pm
7pm – 9pm
For trans and non-binary people
1pm – 5pm
For LGBTQ+ people
020 7704 2040
Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday & Friday
10am - 4pm
Support for perpetrators and abusers
0845 122 8609
Mon – Fri: 9.00am – 5.00pm
This section is for your reference if you get a question or a comment that refers to any of these myths. You do not need to go through it with the group.
The reason for the difference between the Mankind statistic regarding how many men have been affected by sexual violence is so high (2/30 is 15%, while the first statistic indicates that 4% of men over 16 have experienced sexual violence) is that it incorporates child sexual abuse, whereas the first does not.
It is incredibly difficult to get an accurate picture of sexual violence through statistics, which is why different studies with different methodologies and different demographic targets can produce a lot of different evidence. One thing remains clear: sexual violence is endemic.
In UK law, rape is defined as penetration with a penis. Penetration with objects, digits, and so forth is sexual assault and carries the same legal punishment as rape. However, many people criticise this law as being cis-normative (erasing trans people) and overly simplistic. Anyone of any gender can be a perpetrator or a survivor. However, men are overwhelmingly more likely to be perpetrators regardless of the gender of the survivor.
There is not much research on sexual violence against non-binary people, but trans people in general, especially trans women, experience sexual violence more frequently than cis (non-trans) people do.
Silence does not equal consent. Often people do not feel like they can say no due to power imbalances. People can also become unresponsive or not know what to say when they are in uncomfortable or frightening situations. Lack of verbal dissent is not the same as consent.
Alcohol is the most common date rape drug. ‘Spiking’ is often not a matter of tipping drugs into a drink—if someone orders someone else a double when they’ve asked for a single with the intention of getting them drunk and making them vulnerable, that’s still spiking.
Being drunk, however, is no excuse for committing sexual violence. Alcohol consumption is well documented as a risk factor for many violent crimes, including murder. Being drunk does not alter the perpetrator’s legal responsibility. The Institute for Alcohol Studies suggests that lowered inhibitions, impaired cognition and increased aggression caused by alcohol consumption are all possible risk factors in sexual violence.
One practical way to change your actions around alcohol is to be conscious of your own consumption; as well as asking yourself ‘is this person sober enough to consent’, you need to ask, ‘am I sober enough to recognise and be sure of their consent’.
If both parties are confident about engaging in sexual activity, they can communicate their consent to each other. Consent can be spoken, but it can also be expressed in action. If in doubt, ask. Quick check-ins are okay and reassuring. It does not kill the mood.
Consent to do one thing does not automatically imply you want things to go further. Consent with protection does not imply consent without protection. Different people are comfortable with different things at certain points of their relationships (i.e. kissing, touching). Similarly, consenting to an act once does not mean that a person will consent to that act again.
Mental illness does not indicate a predilection towards perpetrating sexual violence. However, disabled and mentally ill people are much more likely to experience sexual violence, with mentally ill women being up to five times more likely to be survivors.
Refer back to the statistics on partner rape and perpetrators who are known to survivors. As we see in high profile sexual violence cases—Jimmy Savile, the Stanford rapist, Rolf Harris—being popular and well-liked often works in favour of perpetrators, and makes it more difficult for survivors to come forwards.
It can be deeply uncomfortable to accept that people we like and admire can perpetrate sexual violence, and that we ourselves have a responsibility to seek explicit consent no matter how friendly or enlightened or good in bed we think we are. That’s part of why we have these workshops—so that we as a community can work together to change how we think and act around consent.
Refer back to Scenario 3. In 1991 marital rape was finally made illegal. Consent is always important whether you’ve been with a person for an hour or 10 years. Consent once does not infer consent again. Checking in is a good way of developing strong and fulfilling sexual relationships, it can enhance- rather than kill a mood.
Refer back to the alcohol statistics. Everyone has a responsibility not to commit sexual violence and this responsibility is not lifted if a person or two people are drunk. It is very rare that two people will be exactly the same amount drunk, it is important for people to check in on themselves about whether they can consent and if the other person can. If there is any area of doubt, don’t engage sexually, the worst that happens is you don’t get laid, the worst if you do when you’re doubtful is you commit sexual violence. Also think about power imbalances- if a DPhil tutor and their student are both equally drunk the tutor still has a duty of care and responsibility over the student. Alcohol or drugs never justify sexual violence or harassment and this is noted in the University Harassment Policy.
This is part of a rhetoric seen in society. This is completely untrue. Turn it round and imagine this scenario: ‘A person is walking their dog in a secluded field late at night, the person is attacked then murdered’- would we ever say this person was asking to be attacked and murdered? No. Clothing, previous sexual experiences, stereotypes, ‘reputations’ etc, are never a justification for someone to be subject to sexual violence.
This is a dangerous rhetoric often used to justify coercion or force. If someone says no then take that as what it is- no means no. If a person seems uncomfortable or not enthusiastic, check in, don’t force yourself. Blurred Lines don’t exist, if you’re unsure or get a negative reaction stop and/or check in.