Editors Letter: Issue 8, 2020
Let’s talk about bad sex. And no, by bad sex I’m not referring to being jackhammered in some dingy flat in O Week (though that is also very bad sex). But rather the grey area that exists in consensual sex. For years me and my female friends have spoken about this, sharing unanimous nods of solidarity as we still fail to find the appropriate words to navigate this murky area. It’s a kind of a sexual nuance that most women instinctively understand as true: the situation that you agreed upon is yes consensual, but in your heart you know something is wrong. I guess when it comes down to it, it’s when you find yourself in those instances where you say “yes” but you really mean “no.”
It seems like this conversation has been largely neglected in the discourse surrounding sexual harassment and assault: that saying “yes” often actually means saying “no.” Consent, like a lot of things, isn’t black and white. I have always been an advocate for safe, clear and effective communication, especially with sexual intimacy. But I also recognise this is a whole lot easier said than done. There is a level of passivity that is ever so prominent in our perception of women, and unsurprisingly this extends to many things, including the bedroom. Women are taught to be accommodating and docile, that they must protect others’ feelings before their own. And often this comes at the expense of submitting to lukewarm sex that is both invasive and leaves you with a sense of guilt.
Like most of us, I’m not really too sure on how to navigate this space. I don’t want to take away from sexual assault by inferring that this grey area is victim to the same degree of trauma. But I do want to encourage greater conversation on this issue. We need to normalise our concern towards “bad sex.” We need to talk to our friends and partners about the tools, resources and language required to mitigate bad sex. We need to hold each other to account, and ensure that we feel comfortable in talking about what makes us uncomfortable.
With that all being said, welcome to semester 2 and issue 8 of Debate. Sex is complicated. There are many avenues to explore, many conversations to be had and many things to critique. Our contributors this week provide insight into a number of different topics. Our feature writer Andrew Broadley talks about how suppression of desire can often translate into toxic relationship habits in his piece “Sex, with God.” And our beloved sex columnist Casta Lawson gives us some of her best work to date in the form of her much anticipated Minion erotica.
Lastly, for the past few months AUT has been in the spotlight, and rightfully so. This institution has not done enough to support its students. Whether that be block learning, a lack of support or poor communication. Currently AUT is undergoing an independent review for sexual harassment. AUT for years has not done enough to support their ‘zero tolerance’ status. After sexual harassment allegations were made towards Max Abbott, countless claims have come forward pointing to how AUT has facilitated a harassment culture for quite some time. Since Max Abbott, sexual harassment allegations have also been made towards Nigel Hemmington and another staff member yet to be disclosed. We demand transparency in this review. It’s time to pay up, AUT.