Disclaimer: This post mentions sexual activity. Themes discussed in this post may be triggering to those who have experienced abuse or assault. All thoughts, opinions and experiences are my own.
Lately, I've noticed people pressuring and pestering others into engaging in intimate acts. While this may seem like a 'blurred line' in terms of consent, it isn't. Here's an example; I was on a second date with a guy. He kept asking me very sexual questions. Each time, I changed the subject and didn't answer. When he asked to kiss me, I said, "Not now."
To which he responded, "Okay."
Five minutes later, he starts talking about his sexual urges unprompted, then gets very close to me. I move away and motion for him to stay back. He continues to move closer and very subtly touches my arm then my legs. I say, "I'd rather you not do that."
He proceeds to get closer and says, "Please, why don't you want to? Come on babe, please. Do me a favour. You'll enjoy it. Don't you like me?"
He continues to guilt me before leaning in to kiss me. This is after me repeatedly saying no politely and moving away several times. When searching, I couldn't find a phrase that described this experience, so I called it 'college convincing.'
'College convincing' is the relentless pestering and pressuring of someone into engaging in a sexual act after they have shown or described hesitations, discomfort or disinterest. Pestering and pressuring can include manipulation, using ultimatums or punishments, guilt-tripping, continuously talking about sex and continuing to make sexual advances despite one's hesitation, discomfort or disinterest. I've called this 'college convincing' because I'm most aware of it happening amongst college-aged individuals. I don't doubt it occurs within all age groups but as I am in college, that is where I see it most.
How does this differ from being playful or flirtatious? Easy. If it isn't an enthusiastic yes, it's a no. If someone goes silent, stops moving, starts moving away, avoids eye contact, tries to change the subject, or seems reluctant; stop, step back, and ask if they would like to continue. If the answer is no, I don't know, I'm not sure, I'd rather not, or anything besides yes, I like it, or continue; STOP! If you have any suspicion that the other person isn't enjoying it, just ask. Consent is sexy! Asking permission is very simple; you can say, "Can I do this?" "Do you like that?" "Does this feel good?" And once again, if the answer isn't yes, then stop what you're doing.
This practice does not limit itself to college-aged students trying to pick someone up at a bar. This happens regardless of age, sexual orientation, gender and relationship status. Men and women can be the perpetrators in this act, and men, just like women, can be the victims. This behaviour doesn't exclude people in long-term relationships or married couples. Convincing, pressuring and pestering from one person to another is never acceptable.
Making someone feel bad for not wanting to do something sexual is unacceptable. Making someone feel guilty about not wanting to have sex is unacceptable. Making threats and giving ultimatums or punishments is unacceptable. Pressuring someone into sexual activity is unacceptable. Continuing to discuss sex or make sexual advances after someone has shown their discomfort is unacceptable. Continuing to ask for sex or force yourself onto someone is unacceptable.
If it's not a yes, it's a no. If it's an 'I don't know' or 'I'm not sure,' it's a no. Your sexual past, present and future do not define you. Your desire, reluctance, or refusal of sex does not determine your worth or how much respect you deserve. You have the right to say no, you have the right to be unsure and you have the right to a healthy and satisfying sex life.