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This damaging perception of masculinity means that men can feel uncomfortable or self-conscious explicitly turning down unwanted sexual advances.
The use of such tactics in a courtroom are designed to appeal to a jury’s pre-existing biases surrounding sex and the trope of the “perfect victim”, who has a chaste sexual history, had no previous contact with the assailant, and who screamed or physically resisted during their assault sexual.
These questions thus rely on and perpetuate damaging (and usually misogynistic) messages about sex and consent, and can prevent victims from reporting sexual assault, as they fear having their sexual history weaponised against them.
This points to necessary cultural overhaul in how we think about consent.
A legal definition of consent was introduced in The Criminal Law (Sexual Offences) Act 2017, which amended The Criminal Law (Sexual Offences) Act 2006.
From childhood, girls are usually taught to be polite and deferent, and are often criticised if they are perceived as being overly opinionated or “bossy”.
Women are thus implicitly and explicitly taught to be agreeable, conflict-avoidant and to de-escalate emotionally charged situations by remaining calm and pleasant.
The complainant will have their own lawyers advising them on that process.” Despite this protection, the mindset behind this type of questioning remains disturbing, as it can reinforce damaging myths about sexual violence, by implying that previous sexual activity can predict future consent.
The reality is that consent must be given on every single occasion, and cannot be transferred across sexual acts, interactions, or partners.
The law now states that “a person consents to a sexual act if he or she freely and voluntarily agrees to engage in that act”, and provides several circumstances under which consent cannot be given, including being asleep or unconscious; under force or the threat of force or being impaired by alcohol or drugs.
The law clarifies that the list is not exhaustive and “does not limit the circumstances in which it may be established that a person did not consent to a sexual act”.