I Thought We Understood Consent

The thing I am struggling to grasp about the present revalatory avalanche of sexual harassment and assault allegations is the timing. I mean the timing in terms of decades, not days.

I was in high school in the early 90’s. Bill Clinton was Exhibit A at school and at home about what not to do as a man with respect to women. Talk of harassment in the workplace, terms like “consent” and the phrase “No means no” were not just part of my family norms (which they certainly were), they were in my public school curriculum.

I got a terrific sex education at public school. It was thorough about anatomy and contraception, but also about consent. My teachers were just as worried about coercion and abuse as they were about teen pregnancy. I remember it clearly.

I know. This behavior is not a problem of education. It’s about power. My public school sex ed teachers taught me that too. I guess I am baffled in the present moment because I have assumed for 25 years now that men my age and younger at least were on the same page about boundaries and no meaning no.

That assumption is another disappointing revelation.