Myths about sexual assault

6. Once you’ve said yes, you can’t say no.

Sex isn’t an unbreakable contract; it’s a pleasurable, often recreational act entered into by two people. Think about it like any other recreational activity, an idea that writer Thomas MacAuley Millar calls a “performance model” of sexual consent: Just because you agree to play a musical duet with someone doesn’t mean you have to keep playing when you want to stop. If you played with someone once, you have no obligation to play with them again. And it would be bizarre for someone to physically forced you to play the saxophone when you didn’t want to and then suggest that you led them on by walking into their room when you knew there was an instrument there.

You can always withdraw consent (courts and even your school may not always recognize that right, but that is your right as a human being with sexual autonomy). You can say no to sex with someone even if you’ve had sex with that person before. You can say no to sex even if the person you’re saying no to is your husband, wife, boyfriend, girlfriend or partner. You can even withdraw consent if you’re having sex and you want to stop.

12. Only women are rape victims.

Men are less likely to be victimized than women, but men are raped too: 1 in 33 American men will experience rape or attempted rape in his lifetime. Men also experience other forms of sexual assault and sexual violence, sometimes at the hands of other men, sometimes at the hands of women.

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