Feminist Activists Launch A Consent Guide To Help Fight Rape Culture On College Campuses

The group behind last week's elaborate prank on Playboy Magazine realized that students wanted real consent-themed materials.

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A sexual assault prevention group is launching a college-themed guide for consensual sexual activity, hoping to inspire students to implement programs on their own campuses that will help encourage “the culture of consent.”

The online magazine includes profiles of college activists who are working to encourage healthy sexual relationships at their schools, quizzes to help readers assess how well their own university is handling these issues, information about federal laws that forbid gender discrimination in academic settings, and suggestions for campus events to spread the word about consent.

The group behind the magazine is FORCE: Upsetting Rape Culture, the same feminist activists who recently played an elaborate prank on Playboy Magazine. Last week, it appeared as though Playboy had released a “guide to a consensual good time,” choosing to emphasize sexual assault prevention in place of its traditional annual ranking of the country’s best party schools. But it was quickly revealed to be a fake — a parody site created by FORCE to get the Internet talking about consent on college campuses. To carry out the campaign, FORCE partnered with college activists who were in on the joke and who helped spread the fake guide among their peers.

FORCE says the reaction to the Playboy prank was so positive that it was clear students wanted real consent-themed materials. Not realizing it was a prank, hundreds of people praised Playboy in the comment section of the fake site, writing “Thank you” and “About time.” “The internet saw way more enthusiasm for the spoof ‘Ultimate Guide for a Consensual Good Time’ than for Playboy’s actual top party school list,” the group notes in a press release.

So the FORCE activists delivered. The 21-page action pack takes a similar tact as the fake Playboy guide did — colorful graphics, step-by-step guides, and a casual tone. For instance, college students can take a Cosmo-style quiz to assess how well their campus deals with issues of consent, and their schools will end up falling into categories like “Preaching to the choir,” “Consent is nice in theory, but gets lost in practice,” or “My school is a nightmare.” The magazine offers follow-up advice for each category. For the “nightmare” schools, students are directed to a later section that explains Title IX and provides an example of students who filed a formal complaint with the U.S. Department of Education over their university’s inadequate sexual assault policies.

The group is hoping their consent guide will inspire a new generation of activists. FORCE is also launching a “consent revolution” contest, encouraging college students to host creative consent campaigns and upload photos of them to the group’s Facebook page. The photo with the most “likes” by October 7 will win. “Your action could be a consent themed cheer at the Homecoming game’s half time! It could be a compelling poster campaign. It could be an instantly viral hash-tagged meme!” FORCE explains on its site.

As the issue of sexual assault on college campuses has remained in the headlines, FORCE wants to empower students to change the atmospheres at their own schools. The group believes that a student-driven movement will help combat the persistent rape culture that currently dissuades victims of sexual assault from coming forward. And ultimately, greater education about consentcan help prevent sexual crimes from happening in the first place.

“For consent to be a truly mainstream and common practice, it needs to be part of the sexual culture on college campuses,” Hannah Brancato, one of the co-directors of FORCE, noted in a statement accompanying the new project. “If you only learn about consent in an auditorium, it will be hard to put into practice in the heat of the moment. But if consent is also surrounding students in their party culture and in their social spheres, it is more likely to sink in. College students are the best people to teach other college students about how enthusiastic, consensual sex is the best sex.”

Read the whole guide below:



Tara Culp-Ressler is the Health Editor for ThinkProgress. Before joining the ThinkProgress team, Tara deepened her interest in progressive politics from a faith-based perspective at several religious nonprofits, including Faith in Public Life, the National Religious Campaign Against Torture, and Interfaith Voices.

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