A recent study, conducted for the scientific journal Violence and Gender, has revealed a shocking statistic in regards to the attitudes of male students around consent.
The study, conducted by a group of researchers from the University of North Dakota and the North Dakota State University, investigated how the sample group, of 86 predominantly white males, would react in various sexual situations.
The students involved in the study were asked to consider whether they would forcibly have sex with a woman against her will "if nobody would ever know and there wouldn't be any consequences." In what can only be called one of the greatest indictments of modern humanity, almost 32% of the participants said that they would have sex with a woman in such a situation.
However, when the participants were asked explicitly whether they would rape a woman knowing there would be no consequences for their actions, only 13.6% said that they would. While this is still a horrifyingly large proportion of the group who are actively happy with the idea of raping someone, should they know that their actions would bear no consequences - which is scant consolation for the idea that they would never actually perpetrate such a crime - the inability for the participants of the study to actively recognise what constituted rape proved incredibly troubling.
For nearly 32% of the participants to actively say that they would forcibly have sex with a woman against her will, which unambiguously constitutes rape, but somehow for a large proportion of this group to not recognise it as such, shows the pressing need for better education around sexuality and consent.
Despite, as mentioned, this survey being carried out among American students and without wishing to directly correlate the figures to an Irish context, there is certainly a pressing need within the Irish education system for classes which actively, and clearly, teach what exactly constitutes rape and what the idea of consent means. It is imperative that sexual consent classes adequately ensure that such ambiguity around the idea of consent can no longer exist.
The purpose of the study was ostensibly to help rectify the problems inherent in sexual education within America that has led to a group of men being able to say that they would commit rape without seeing it as such.