Let Me Tell You What Ruins The Moment

 

I was on a date with this guy, and we were talking about hobbies. His is martial arts, so I told him about my experience learning and volunteering for IMPACT Israel.

Date: Rape protection for women? Lemme guess: Punch to the face, knee to the groin, run away as fast as you can?
Me: No.
Date: No? What else could they possibly teach?
Me: Well, of course they teach you a good knee to the groin, but it’s not just that. It’s also about setting clear boundaries.
He smirked while I demonstrated creepy and non-creepy ways a guy could ask me what time it is while waiting for the bus.
Date: So run away!
Me: I don’t want to, I’m waiting for the bus. I need to get to work.
He was skeptical about the idea that someone standing too close to you and making you feel uncomfortable was something that happens to women on a regular basis. He was impressed with the style of physical fighting skills I described, but the concept of setting verbal boundaries seemed to register with him like teaching women to be uptight and paranoid.
Date: Only creepy guys do that! I could recognize a creeper from a mile away!
Me: OK, fine.
Me: But not all guys are creepy, right? I believe most men aren’t creepy. Some men are good. Some guys are cute, and kind, and they love us. They’re boyfriends, husbands, dads. What are you supposed to do when it’s your boyfriend, who loves you, who is making you uncomfortable?

I can’t even count on one hand anymore the number of stories I’ve heard from close friends that go like this:

  • Boy meets girl
  • boy and girl engage in consensual romantic activity
  • boy initiates sex
  • girl says “No, I don’t want to.”
  • boy thinks girl doesn’t actually mean what she said
  • without really understanding that that is what he is doing – ends up raping her

WHY does that still happen?

Date: But what are you supposed to do? Am I supposed to ask before I do anything?
Me: Yeah.
Date: Everything?
Me: Yeah.
Date: Ask before every single thing? Pffffft!
Me: Yeah, why not? It doesn’t ruin the moment.
Me: But do you know what totally ruins the moment? Touching someone without her consent. Huge turnoff.

13344542_1157187760994513_3899135592563392909_nLike many other Internet junkies out there, I’ve been reading the story about the Stanford rapist, his father’s nauseating letter defending him, and the victim’s testimony. The conclusion I’ve drawn from it is that young people (probably everyone, but particularly young people) are so terribly misinformed about consent. If you are drunk, you can not give consent. And if you are not sure if the woman you’re with is drunk or not, what are you supposed to do? You’re supposed to not have sex with her. Because if you don’t know if she can give consent, why would you risk violating someone in that way? And if you aren’t sure if she wanted it, even if she said yes, or she said no but you think she meant yes and you aren’t sure if she means what she means – just don’t do it. If you’ve ever had sex with someone who has given their consent and not regretted it in the morning, then you know that consent doesn’t wear a mask. Consent looks like “Yes, I do want to have sex with you!” It’s obvious when someone is saying yes. Which means that if it’s not obvious, they are saying no.

So what do we do? How do we fix this problem? My younger brother initiated a simple campaign to try and make a difference. His campaign is called Free Consent, and its goal is to raise awareness about what exactly consent looks like. Their slogan is, “If it’s not yes, it’s no!” They held a conference just last week with workshops and guest speakers to discuss this topic, and they’ve visited high schools all over the northern part of the country to help spread the word.

13301500_10154178202265365_6235709197252153524_oAnd the best part is, here’s something you can do: join the campaign! Post a selfie of you holding a sign bearing the words,

“If it’s not YES – it’s NO!” #freeconsent

It’s not so hard to understand. And who knows? Maybe we can actually start reducing rape cases around the world. It’s worth a try, isn’t it?

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Who Needs Racism? An Unforgettable Adventure

Have you ever heard of Muslims and Jews in the Middle East joining hands to battle violence against women? Stay tuned. You’re about to get an earful.

I volunteer as an assistant in a self-defense program for women called IMPACT. The course we finished yesterday was for a group of Muslim women in East Jerusalem. Since none of the team spoke fluent Arabic, we used a translator most of the time, but we communicated pretty well even without a common language.

After the third session, one of the women shared this story.

I never used to take my children out by myself. When I wanted to take them out, I’d call my sisters, and if no one could come with me I just wouldn’t go. But last week I took them out alone. I wasn’t afraid at all.

This is a perfect example of the kind of changes IMPACT makes on the lives of the women who take it. There is a certain misconception that learning self-defense techniques will make a woman violent, but that’s not what happens in reality. Beyond sexual assault, these little everyday inconveniences are what imprison us as women. IMPACT does not make us belligerent; it sets us free.

I’ll be perfectly honest. Before the course, I was prepared to be accepting and friendly towards the women, since that was my job, and also because I believe in approaching everyone with love, no matter what their background is. However, I was not prepared for the amount of acceptance they showed toward us. There was not a peep about the racial and cultural differences between us for the entire course. Until the last day, when one woman told us:

In the past, when I saw a Jew, I used to be scared of them. Now when I see a Jew, I think of you, and I remember that some are good.

O_O I swear I didn’t pay her to say that.

I realized the only real difference between us is that they wear pretty scarves over their hair. We’re not different; we’re estranged from each other. The moment we are given an opportunity to interact all racism is thrown to the wind. Seriously, who needs it anyway?

Huge thanks to the people who stood by me and helped me through this process. I couldn’t have done it without you. Staff of IMPACT Israel: you are the change you want to see in the world. Keep shining.

*Check out El HaLev, the amazing Non Profit in charge of this project.