Suddenly famous Warwick University student, George Lawlor, became such through a public post disparaging his university’s call for a consent workshop on his campus. He explained that he felt insulted by the notion that he and other men might misinterpret consent in sexual scenarios. As suspected, this provoked some outrage in the online community.
The primary objection to his statement is interestingly not the statement itself, but the accompanying photo he released alongside his piece, where he holds a sign saying, “THIS IS NOT WHAT A RAPIST LOOKS LIKE.”
He effectively missed the point. Naturally, many were upset by his declaration, chiefly because there is no one image of a rapist. Anyone and everyone can potentially rape; the issue at hand is the (lack of) knowledge in preempting situations prior to their occurrence.
I would, for a moment, like to discuss the remainder of his message. Lawlor describes himself as a Libertarian, holding firmly in his convictions of free speech and individualism. For instance, he opposes Affirmative Action because he believes discrimination will not disappear through government intervention, but only through societal change. Likewise, he believes societal change is what we need to prevent rape. He claims the obstacle is poor upbringing.
But while upbringing and societal change are necessary in the prevention of heinous acts, they do not occur on their own without awareness, which may present itself in the form of government action or consent workshops. If people intrinsically knew to instruct their children on the importance of consent, this discussion would not exist.
This is an underlying issue in Libertarian thinking; that is, it is up to us to fix ourselves. Idealistically, that is a lovely vision: we each address our personal dilemmas in a healthy fashion, and suddenly society on a macro level is operating without a hitch. However, sometimes we do not recognize there is a problem without the intervention of those around us. And when something occurs on a large scale, threatening the safety of multiple groups in multiple communities, it is up to communities to take charge. There is no reason to avoid spreading awareness. It will save lives. This is what Mr. Lawlor has fundamentally misunderstood.