Volunteer Writer: Ella Foster
On September 30th, the Umass Dartmouth Center for Women, Gender & Sexuality (CWGS) hosted Dr. Lori Bednarchik’s hour-long discussion of consent and awareness of sexual violence.
Bednarchik specializes in relational/interpersonal communication with students and teaches young people specific skills to communicate consent.
In her talk, Bednarchik said that “students think communicating consent is positive and beneficial, safe and useful and they know when they are supposed to do it.”
The CWGS hosted this event to provide a guide to discussing consent, believing that it is important for students to gain practical skills for communicating about sex and sexual activities.
“College kids are vulnerable to sexual violence.” said Assistant Director of CWGS Ashley Ruderman-Looff.
Violence can occur when there is miscommunication in a relationship.
“Consent is something that needs to take a higher spot in conversations around sex, intimacy and just in general,” said Elizabeth Eden, a third-year political science student who attended the talk.
Throughout her discussion, Bednarchik focused on affirmative consent, also known as “Yes Means Yes” consent.
She shared with students how they can go about obtaining and providing affirmative consent in a real-life sexual situation. Along with how they can do it “without the much-feared awkwardness and certainty without ‘ruining the mood,’” explained Bednarchik.
Communication goes beyond preventing non-consensual sex but rather “communicating consent with your partner or partners can lead to a more positive relationship” said Bednarchik.
Bednarchik shares that “legally, sexualconsent is considered to be A… if not, THE factor that distinguishes between consensual and non-consensual sex.”
Eden explains that “learning consent at a young age means more sexual encounters in their futures will havebetter conversations and be more comfortable and enjoyable for all parties involved.”
Consent allows young adults to gain more practical skills and knowledge, as well as provide safety to those who have been victims of sexual violence, like Eden herself.
Eden said, “having conversations such as these will allow these possibilities and help alter understanding, recognition and alter the statics of victimization.”