Consent the D in retrospect

In the Oct. 27 issue of The DePaulia, an article explored the pro-sexual consent movement on campus called Consent the D. The movement ended when founder Randy Vollrath posted on the group’s Facebook page Monday, Nov. 3, announcing the end of T-shirt production and the movement.

At a glance, any grassroots effort designed specifically to promote consent before a sexual encounter makes sense. In a study on the official website for the White House, it was stated that one in five women has reported being sexually assaulted while in college. Yet, further reflection leads one to question if the Consent the D movement was the best approach to highlight the importance of consent before sex. The chosen phrase had shock value, but it was inappropriate for the issue at hand. It also did not accurately represent what I believe to be the real problem: sexual assaults on college campuses regardless of sexual orientation.

Consent the D, or in other words Consent the Dick, can be interpreted as a command rather than a choice. DePaul freshman Emily Thompson said, “I think the intentions were in the right place, but the message was worded poorly … It sounded like a command. It seemed like it was forcing a female to consent to a male, which is probably the opposite of what they were trying to do.”

The movement may have been well-intentioned, but the approach was questionable, and at the very least, not representative of all people on college campuses. The movement left out a specific group of people who are often victims of sexual assault —the LGBTQ community. Allison McCracken, a professor of American studies at DePaul, voiced concern that the slogan promoted rape culture and male domination.

Consent the D “limits the definition of sex in general to that which involves a penis, and that is, indeed, heteronormative,” McCracken said. “Honestly, the original DePaul slogan for ‘Fear the D’ might be more on point.”

Noah Barth, president of Act Out, an LGBTQA activist group at DePaul, was also frustrated that the movement had no relation to the queer community. Barth said, “As a movement that is raising awareness for sexual assault, I find it problematic that it completely excludes and devalues the voices and experiences of those who have experienced other forms of sexual assault.”

Any sexual contact or behavior that occurs without prior consent is considered assault. Consent the D ignored key issues in relation to sexual assault by excluding the queer community from the movement, and by making the slogan analogous to commanding a male or female to consent to the dick. In the future, student groups need to work together to be as informed and tactful as possible when trying to create awareness about the issue of sexual assault. While being well-intentioned, Consent the D was certainly not very well-informed.