Author’s note: This article discusses sexual assault.
“I don’t have to be taught how not to be a rapist.”
Student George Lawlor of the University of Warwick recently penned an article for the online student publication The Tab to express his frustration over being invited to attend sex consent training lessons. He found this invitation to be both insulting and disappointing. Lawlor believes that he has already expressed his belief in consent and mutual agreement in the past. Thus, he feels that the extended invitation to attend sex consent training workshops implied that he did not have a sufficient understanding of what consent truly means.
In his article for The Tab titled “Why I Don’t Need Consent Lessons,” Lawlor acknowledges that he expected that other people would view his stance as being on the “wrong” side of the controversy. With that being said, Lawlor still felt compelled to express his views because he believes that most people who share his opinion will not chose to speak out. Lawlor posted a photo to accompany his article in which he holds up a sign saying, “This is not what a rapist looks like.” In his opinion, the leaders of these consent workshops could be doing countless other things to more effectively spread awareness about rape prevention rather than inviting students to attend consent workshops. Because most of the workshop leaders are self-appointed students, Lawlor feels like these people are making claims of being actual experts on consent issues, without any real experience to back up their claims.
Lawlor anticipates and even encourages backlash. In his article, he states, “Brand me a bigot, a misogynist, a rape apologist, I don’t care. I stand by that.” As Lawlor expected, his article has not gone over well with many social media users. Lawlor’s article has received messages and comments from both men and women blasting his opinions. Many people found Lawlor’s piece to be incredibly offensive and an embarrassment to other men who are more open to participating in consent training workshops.
Other students at the University of Warwick, including the organizers of the consent workshops, spoke out in response to Lawlor’s article. Josie Throup, an organizer of the I Heart Consent workshops held at Warwick, wrote her own article for The Tab in response to Lawlor’s piece. Throughout her piece, Throup emphasized that Lawlor would not be receiving an apology from her. Throup feels that Lawlor has a flawed view of what a rapist “looks like”. She states, “He seems to believe there is a particular profile of a person that would [be a rapist], who’s too busy lurking in the shadows somewhere to attend a consent workshop.”
Lawlor and Throup clearly hold very different opinions regarding the value of consent workshops on college campuses. At the very least, the social media coverage that this debate has sparked will help bring more attention to the issue of consent.
Cover image courtesy of Shutterstock.