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Queen Mary Netball investigate what ‘consent’ means in the University environment

Queen Mary Netball released a video this week where they interviewed students about issues relating to consent. Participants were asked to read statements aloud that had been submitted via a form and respond to them.

All participants were in overwhelming agreement that sexual assault and rape should not be considered shameful or embarrassing for the victim, that there should be more support in schools and Universities to prevent this from being the case, and that increased openness about sex would be a good thing for society as a whole.

One of the statements included in the video stated, “I’ve had an admission of guilt and apology from the person who assaulted me and yet I’ve heard that someone still doesn’t believe my claims because I didn’t make an ‘official complaint’”. To this, one respondent stated that they can “understand why women wouldn’t want to go through all this stuff” such as court proceedings and the attention that comes with reporting a sexual assault. Another said that it “can be very demoralising so I can’t imagine that is encouraging.”

we need to face up to these problems

An important aspect of the video is the statements that also cover non-heterosexual sex and men as possible victims of sexual assault – as usually society stigmatises this and only considers it as a problem for young women. One respondent to the statements said, “sexual assault between men is very unlikely to be reported.”

Men can also be sexually assaulted by women and this is often not taken seriously enough as “women just assume that men always want it.”

Relating to this, the importance of only making correct accusations was incorporated as “a false accusation can ruin a boy’s life” as names will often be circulated and published in the press before the accused is found guilty. This emphasises the difficulty and damage that a false accusation can bring.

Respondents agreed that ‘lad culture’ does not help the issue, with one stating that when they tried to join a society, “part of the criteria of being a proper member of the club was having gotten with at least three girls from other clubs.”

The video shines a light on the fact that these issues happen within Queen Mary and need to be addressed. As one respondent in the video commented, “it is shocking because these are people you might sit in lectures with. They’ve been through so much but might not complain because they might not know what to do about it.”

Some of the difficulties of sexual assault and identifying it were also discussed, such as “waking up and having gaps in your memory… bruises that you don’t know how they got there… could be innocent” which implies a need for increased education about some of the consequences of drugs and alcohol. However, it seems that the most important lesson that needs to be learned is that people under the influences of such substances may not be in the correct state to give consent. As one respondent stated, “we need to face up to these problems.”

Image – Queen Mary Netball Club / YouTube

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