“Consent is Sexy”
PhD Charlie Glickman spoke at MRU to discuss stereotypes that men are forced into and the reasons behind events like the St. Mary’s frosh chant
Charlie Glickman, PhD of Philosophy With a Concentration in Educational Leadership, is a Sex and Relationship coach and author of the book The Ultimate Guide to Prostate Pleasure: Exotic Exploration for Men and their Partners. He talked about a number of topics across Calgary and came to MRU to talk about “Don’t Blame Me: Creating a Culture of Consent on Campus”.
Glickman spoke to the Reflector:
The Reflector: In light of the first year frosh that was in the news, the one in Halifax at St Mary’s, in your talk today are you referencing that one or is something that is happening at other schools too?
Charlie Glickman: It has been happening at schools all over the U.S. and Canada. I don’t know if it is escalating as much as it is just much more known than it used to be.
There was a story that happened when I was in college, so that’s late 80s early 90s, where the women who were on their way to the dining hall walking past fraternities that the guys in the fraternities were holding up score cards. You know, 1 to 10.
That’s on the same spectrum of behavior. So, this isn’t anything new. I think what is new is that more people are aware of it and that more people are talking about it.
TR: Do you think you could explain some of the reasons why, because you talk about the phenomenon of men feeling compelled to sort of be more masculine by performing these acts, so could you explain why things like these, the St Mary’s University chant or the score cards, happen?
CG: I think that there are a few different reasons. One, being the foundation for my talk today, is the performance of masculinity. It’s the let me show you that I fit into the “act like a man” box. One of the difficulties is that it is sort of a hierarchy to be the top dog or at least to not be the dog at the bottom of the pack. It’s why men who are by themselves will certainty sometimes do cat calling or harassing women but I’m willing to be that you have had the experience of groups of guys doing it much more loudly and much more vigorously because I don’t know of a woman who hasn’t had that experience. And it’s because it becomes this competition to who can be the most macho and they are not doing it to impress you they are doing it to impress each other.
There was a study done in the U.S. of gang rapes that happen on college campuses 55 per cent of them happened in fraternities and 40 per cent from sports teams. All male environments, the way we have built this it tends to escalate these kinds of behaviors, and I think that’s one big reason.
I think that another big reason for it is that we don’t talk to young men about what their behavior means or what there are doing because that would mean going to a 12-year-old as adolescence is kicking in and saying “all right, you’re starting to become sexual in this new way, let’s talk about what that means.” We don’t talk about it with girls either. We are so uncomfortable talking to teenagers about their sexuality that they just don’t learn these skills. And just the last piece that I think is really relevant is that as a culture, we don’t really understand consent.
Every time I log onto my bank’s website it asks me if I would like to change to paperless banking. Every time. The options are “yes please”, “no thank you” and “ask me later”. Every time, I click on “no thank you”. The other day, I had a bunch of stuff to do and I had to log on to the website five times in one day and every single time it still came up. So that is kind of like the equivalent somebody says “Do you wanna have sex now?” “No”. “How about now?” “Um, I said no.” So I think that there are all of these threads, there’s masculinity, there’s difficulty with sexuality and then there is also not understanding what consent means. The perfect storm for these behaviors.
TR: What key messages are you trying to communicate, especially coming to Mount Royal?
CG: I don’t know how well this fits into a paper but the key message, maybe you could find another way to phrase this, is how can you be masculine without being a dick. I’m not trying to break down men. I’m a man myself and I’m not trying to attack us what I want is for men to be able to do that while still be respectful and be aware of the consequences of their actions. Can you be a man and not be a dick?
TR: What are the solutions? You talk about compassion, accountability and a culture of consent that can be integrated. But how? How are these things going to happen?
CG: I think that there are a lot of ways that we can talk about consent. Even something as basic as when talking to little children instead of saying “come give grandma a hug” and demanding it from them ask them if they would like to give grandma a hug. What usually happens is that kids will say no sometimes to test to make sure that you are respecting their bodily autonomy. It’s how you ask somebody out on a date. It’s how you make room for somebody else in the world. It’s how you deal with having your invitation turned down. There’s a whole cultural shift around these issues that needs to change so that we can do that. And really, in my experience, personal and professional, when we do that suddenly our relationships get a lot better because now both my partner and I know that nobody is feeling resentment, nobody is feeling angry and that we are both there because we want to be there. That makes life so much happier. Consent is sexy. When you have really good consent in a relationship, enthusiastic consent, things just improve tremendously.