Do I Need to Sign a Contract Before Sex?
Talk to a group of young men about sexual violence and there’s a good chance that they will bring up a list of things that they are required to do before engaging in a sexual activity. They might talk about how they need to outright ask their partners if their intentions are ok before each and every sexual act in complete sentences. They might talk about vetting the mental health and sexual history of their partners. Or they might just ask if they should have their partners sign a contract before getting into anything. Or maybe even record their partner’s consent just in case a dispute later arises. Their intent in bringing up these things is almost always to point out the absurd and excessive expectations place on men by today’s politically correct society – a world in which innocent and well-intentioned men routinely find themselves as targets of #metoo-inspired accusations.
Are these expectations excessive? Before weighing in on that, I want to visit the life of Daisy Coleman who was a noted activist on sexual violence. She is perhaps best known for a Netflix documentary that featured her alleged victimization by a classmate when she was 14. Her name has sadly been in the news as of late because she committed suicide at the age of 23. Her mother’s statements following her death indicated that she never fully recovered from her childhood assault.
Daisy’s passing is a stark reminder of what’s at stake when one chooses to initiate sexual contact. The consequences of a misstep can be life-altering and enduring for those involved. Not only is there the potential trauma that you can inflict on somebody else but there’s the risk of criminal and civil sanctions against the initiator. And then there’s the massive potential for harm to one’s reputation and that of their school, team, fraternity, etc.
All of this risk of changing the trajectory of a life is brought on by what is quite often just a few moments of sexual gratification. Considering what’s at stake, you would think that men would be anxious to get their hands on as many tools as they could in order to ensure that their actions are consensual. They should be having active conversations about the merits and flaws in potential approaches. In short, they should be practicing a skill set that many men do not possess. And if men truly believe that there is great potential to be targeted by false accusations in the current climate, isn’t this even more of a reason to develop strategies to confirm consent? Yet many remain mired in cultures that insist that all sexual behavior is casual and consequence-free. Nothing could be further from the truth.