Never have sex with a girl unless she’s sent you a text that proves the sexual relationship is consensual beforehand. And it’s a good idea to even follow up any sexual encounter with a tasteful text message saying how you both enjoyed being with one another — even if you never plan on hooking up again.
This is the advice of Roxanne Jones, founding editor of ESPN The Magazine, in an op-ed on CNN.com about what she teaches her college-aged son as he navigates the sexual waters of university life. She continues:
Crazy, I know, but I’ve actually been encouraging my son and his friends to use sexting — minus the lewd photos — to protect themselves from being wrongly accused of rape. Because just as damning text messages and Facebook posts helped convict the high-schoolers in Steubenville of rape, technology can also be used to prove innocence.
In other words, Jones teaches her son that women cry rape all the time and he should protect himself from false accusations of sexual assault with inadmissable evidence, like a text message.
The only problem with this little plan is, well, everything.
Nevermind that it’s extremely offensive and feeding directly into rape culture that Roxanne Jones is teaching her son to treat all women he hooks up with as potential liars. Nevermind that it is the opposite of romantic to assume your Saturday night roll in the hay requires “evidence.” Her advice to her son is actually extremely misguided and stupid because consent can change. Consent can be renegotiated or be revoked entirely. A text message suggesting sex is going to happen doesn’t mean one of the partners — her son perhaps! — will change their mind, for whatever reason. A text about sex doesn’t mean either party is obligated to actually have sex; they can revoke consent before doing it, or even while diong. Should everyone follow up with, like, multiple text messages revising their consent for even more evidentiary proof? “No sex with u sorry just bj tonite k?” “K” Because that seriously sounds like what Roxanne Jones suggesting.
I would also suggest that many young women would be weirded out by a guy who tries to get their consent via text message as “proof.” It suggests that he doesn’t see consent as a negotiation. Which begs the question, why not? A fundamental distrust of women, like the one Roxanne Jones is breeding in her son and his friends, is extremely unsexy.
Look, I understand Roxanne Jones’ concern as a parent whose child is in the midst of college binge drinking and hookup culture. It’s something more parents should think about. The answer, though, isn’t to teach your darling precious, innocent sons how important it is to “protect themselves from false rape accusations.” The real answer is to not raise rapists. Teach both young men and young women about enthusiastic consent so there isn’t any question everyone is fully, happily consenting to any sexual activity. As Jones notes herself on CNN, “Too often when heavy drinking is involved, the meaning of consent can be misconstrued on both sides.” Another real answer is curbing binge drinking culture so this enthusiastic consent can happen in the first place.
I honestly feel sorry for Roxanne Jones’ son if this is sexual education he’s getting at home. Godwilling this kid has friends or knows feminist groups on campus with slightly less paranoid views about modern sexual mores. Because this one is firmly entrenched in rape culture.
[Image of texting woman via Shutterstock]