Consent means to give someone permission for something to happen. During a rape trial in Ireland, consent was defined in a different way. A 17-year-old girl’s lacy thong underwear was considered permission for a 27-year-old man to sexually assault her. The teenager was faced with the humiliation of having her underwear displayed across a court and used as evidence to say she “asked for it.” The man was ultimately found not guilty and let free, which caused outrage in people everywhere, especially women. The victim ended up committing suicide over the events that happened to her before and during the trial.
Victim blaming exists in our society, making the victim of a horrible crime justify what happened to them, blaming them for causing circumstances where things like rape could happen. For example, what were they wearing? Were they flirting with their abuser before the event happened? Were they drunk? This mentality of putting the victim in a position to justify why such a terrible thing happened to them is exactly what people are protesting against online.
Women everywhere are showing their support by posting photos of their underwear with the hashtag #thisisnotconsent. They are trying to portray the message that just because someone wears an article of clothing that some might label as provocative or seductive, does not automatically mean that the person wearing it is giving consent to sexual activities.
Even though the unfortunate event happened in Ireland, people all around the world have been reacting. Students at Riverside have been showing their support to the victim’s family and the #thisisnotconsent movement by posting a viral image of the garment representing the event on their social medias.
Grade 11 Riverside student, Ximena Turmel, supports the movement and believes that consent should have nothing to do with what someone is wearing. She experienced seeing a lot of students posting about the situation and spreading awareness of what happened online. “I think that this case blew up and affected a lot of people, like students at Riverside, because it makes us think about what if it would’ve happened to someone like us, if we were wearing a certain thing considered sexy, does that mean it’s okay to be assaulted?” said Turmel.
This situation was certainly not unique as victim blaming occurs in many cases involving sexual assault. Spreading awareness and educating people on the repercussions of blaming a victim or assuming consent based on what they were wearing is very important, since it happens more than we think.
Photo courtesy of Getty Images.