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consent

Ryan Murphy is reportedly in the process of developing a television series about the #MeToo movement. 

According to the New Yorker, the series will be called Consent and will follow a format similar to that of Black Mirror, whereby each episode would tell a different story with new characters. 

The #MeToo movement was created in response to a string of high profile sexual abuse allegations, as way of encouraging people to open the conversation and provide support for victims who have suffered in silence for too long. 

It's been reported that the anthology will feature episodes on disgraced Hollywood producer Harvey Weinstein and actor Kevin Spacey's sexual misconduct allegations.

Another episode is set to detail an ambiguous "he-said-she-said" scenario. 

The project has not been backed by FX or Netflix as of yet, though this is probably due to the fact that Murphy just left FX and his Netflix deal doesn’t officially begin until July. 

Either way, we hope to see Consent on our screen in the near future. 

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By Amy Donohoe 

Recently it has been made known that some males have a lack of empathy, warmth, and respect for women.

We have seen the appearance of toxic laddish sexual culture and spread by social media through WhatsApp groups – and social media has made it easier than ever for people to exchange degrading messages about others, and even share explicit content without people's consent. 

The recent Belfast trial has provoked questions about whether the behaviour of young men is being influenced by the free access to online pornography. The trial also highlights the importance of improved sex education in Ireland.

Louise O’Neill, author of the bestselling novel Asking for It said, 'When I saw messages sent by the men, I nearly felt sick. It was horrifying and degrading.' 

Sexual consent has recently been defined in the Irish law as: 'A person consents to a sexual act if he or she freely and voluntarily agrees to engage in that act.'

Currently, there is no law in Ireland that specifically rules on the act of switching private content online or non-consensual sharing of explicit content.

Last year, an investigation was under took by University College Dublin which investigated an alleged Facebook group in which male students were reportedly sharing explicit images of women with whom they had sexual relations and rating them.

The student newspaper reported around 200 students were members of the private Facebook group. The investigation found no evidence that the group existed. They were unable to find any individual who had any first-hand access to these specific postings.

Consent workshops are now common in colleges and universities. Dr McNeela said they should be also held in sports clubs and schools too.

Trish Murphy, a psychotherapist and student counsellor at Trinity College involved in consent workshops, said, 'If you are in doubt, I think you have to ask.' 

In a survey of 1,691 people, one in 12 young women are certain they have had sexual contact with someone in the past year as they were unable to give consent or stop what was happening due to drugs, drink, being incapacitated or asleep according to NUI Galway.

When you consent to something, you are agreeing. This applies to both genders. A person is deemed not to have given consent in many situations, including if they are asleep or if they are incapable due to alcohol.

There are many ways to communicate consent indirectly. You can ask if the other person is okay, ask if they are enjoying themselves, ask are they sure this is what they want, etc.

What Irish law states on consent Extracted from the Irish statute:

(1) A person consents to a sexual act if he or she freely and voluntarily agrees to engage in that act.

(2) A person does not consent to a sexual act if- (a) he or she permits the act to take place or submits to it because of the application of force to him or her or to some other person, or because of the threat of the application of force to him or her or to some other person, or because of a well-founded fear that force may be applied to him or her or to some other person, (b) he or she is asleep or unconscious, (c) he or she is incapable of consenting because of the effect of alcohol or some other drug, (d) he or she is suffering from a physical disability which prevents him or her from communicating whether he or she agrees to the act, (e) he or she is mistaken as to the nature and purpose of the act, (f) he or she is mistaken as to the identity of any other person involved in the act, (g) he or she is being unlawfully detained at the time at which the act takes place, (h) the only expression or indication of consent or agreement to the act comes from somebody other than the person himself or herself.

(3) This section does not limit the circumstances in which it may be established that a person did not consent to a sexual act. (4) Consent to a sexual act may be withdrawn at any time before the act begins, or in the case of a continuing act, while the act is taking place.

(5) Any failure or omission on the part of a person to resist an act does not of itself constitute consent to that act.

There is a Law Reform Commission currently reviewing laws on cyber-crime affecting personal safety, privacy and reputation.

There are barriers to the non-consensual sharing of explicit images being prosecuted under section 10 of the Non-Fatal Offences Against the Person Act 1997 because of the definition of the term ‘harassment’.

For behaviour to be considered as harassment it needs to be continuous and direct with the victim.

Data Protection Acts 1988 and 2003 Other legal principles to be considered when it comes to non-consensually sharing explicit images are privacy and data protection.

Under data protection law, individuals haven’t the right not to have their personal data (including their image) published without consent.

Anyone who publishes private content online could be violating data protection laws and could have a civil lawsuit brought against them.

It’s a school’s duty to take care of its students and it extends to ensuring students aren’t exposed to bullying. Given the nature of non-consensual sharing of explicit images, a school would be expected to take active steps in ensuring that its students are informed of the dangers and consequences of it.

The courts still must consider the extent of the duty of care in respect of cyber-bullying or non-consensual  sharing of explicit images.

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To be a woman in Ireland is to constantly feel like your body is a battleground. From the upcoming referendum on the Eighth Amendment to the larger discussion around consent, it's clear we have a long way to go in terms of equal rights.

And let's be honest – it's exhausting combatting misogyny day in and day out. However, we have to keep fighting the good fight, and this playlist is here to keep you going.

These songs are for you to listen to while smashing the patriarchy – whether it's at protests, as the only woman working in your office, or while teaching your younger siblings that things can change.

It's comforting to hear the voices of these women who are still rocking, or who have come before us to pave the way for bad bitches like ourselves. 

Without further ado, here are the songs that will make you feel like you can kick ass, or simply help you remember you are not alone:

Dream Wife – 'Somebody'

This trio, originally formed in Brighton, is the coolest thing on six legs. Rakel Mjöll (lead vocals), Alice Go (guitar and vocals), and Bella Podpadec (bass and vocals) met in art school and have been making sweet, sweet music together ever since. 

Their 'bad bitches to the front' policy at their shows harkens back to the days of riot grrrl, when Kathleen Hanna of Bikini Kill and others would invite girls to come closest to the stage. And I'm not going to lie – at their latest gig in Dublin, I felt like I could dance freer than ever before knowing that there wasn't potentially a creepy dude trying to grind up behind me.

The song 'Somebody' in particular is near and dear to the hearts of the members of Dream Wife, and the words in it will resonate with many women. The lyrics 'You were a cute girl standing backstage/It was bound to happen' echo sentiments we've heard far too often in the news. One line stands out because of its simple truth. It should be painted on banners, written on toilet walls, and passed in every covert classroom note: 'I am not my body/I am somebody'.

Chastity Belt – 'Cool Slut'

Sexists often toss around the word 'slut' to degrade women, while praising men who sleep with multiple partners. In fact, when a man is referred to as a slut, people often tack on 'man' in front of it because we so strongly relate the term to women.

Well, Chastity Belt, an all-female indie rock band from Walla Walla, Washington, is taking back the term, à la the LGBT community's reclamation of 'queer'. The music video for the song shows band members Julia Shapiro, Lydia Lund, Annie Truscott, and Gretchen Grimm doing everyday things that sluts do – drink wine with their friends, hang out in the park, play instruments. Doing the actual slutty part takes up only a fraction of our days.

So here's to sluts everywhere – let's sing along together: 'To all the girls in the world/Trying to take off their shirts/Ladies it's okay to be/It's okay to be slutty'.

The Tuts – 'Dump Your Boyfriend'

A self-described 'three-tone girl band', these women are the best thing you've never heard of. Nadia Javed, Beverley Ishmael, and Harriet Doveton are vegans, feminists, and yes, we would like to be their best friends.Their bubblegum pop-punk sound is sure to get you singing into your hairbrush or moving on the dance floor.

To be honest, it was hard just picking one girl power song by them because their music is so imbued with feminism. Both 'Tut Tut Tut' and 'What's On The Radio?' voice their frustrations as female artists often passed over in favour of their mediocre male counterparts. 'Dump Your Boyfriend' is an absolute choon though, because we all know that one friend who needs to ditch the guy holding her back.

Anna Wise – 'BitchSlut'

This R&B artist is well known for her collaborations with Kendrick Lamar, and we can't help but love her after hearing her song 'BitchSlut'.

The lyrics capture how as women we can never get it right in the eyes of certain people – we are either too friendly or too cold. What we wear, the simple fact that we're sitting alone – a**holes will use any excuse to say we were asking for it. And if we say no? Well, we're automatically labelled a frigid bitch, obviously. Wise's dulcet tones perfect convey this catch-22 every woman finds herself in at some point in her life.

Mommy Long Legs – 'Cat Callers'

Like I said before, it can be exhausting battling sexism day in and day out. The members of Mommy Long Legs have their own wonderful antidote for this: humour.

Lilly Morlock (vocal and guitar), Cory Budden (drums), Melissa Kagerer (vocals and guitar), and Leah Miller (vocals and bass) wear wigs while they play what they have hilariously dubbed 'barf-core/fart-core/vomit garage'. 

In an interview with The Le Sigh, the band said of their music: "We are naturally silly people. That’s why our music is funny. We also think that humour is a good way of addressing and coping with topics that are, a lot of times, hard to talk about… There is a feeling of reclamation, or power, in being able to turn a difficult situation into something humorous."

Indeed, 'Cat Callers' is about something serious – being yelled at on the street by creeps – but the band manages to poke fun at the topic while also not belittling the experience of the women being catcalled.

Princess Nokia – 'Tomboy'

Princess Nokia, a.k.a. Destiny Frasqueri, takes back her sexuality and flips the typical script of the male gaze in this powerful rap.

Frasqueri, who is of Afro-Puerto Rican and Taíno descent, spoke about the song with Djali of Mass Appeal, saying:

"Both of us being women (of colour), we understand the extent to which our image has been moulded by patriarchy—and colonialism, for that matter—forcing us to conform to archaic notions of 'beauty', and 'sex appeal' to please the male gaze. This song dismantles that entirely."

Bleached – 'Can You Deal?'

'Can You Deal?' asks the listener to not 'label or package me please'. It's a fitting message considering that Jennifer Clavin, who's on vocals, guitar, and synth in Bleached, compiled a zine with fellow female musicians (also called Can You Deal?) about how they'd like to be known for their talent and who they are, not simply for their gender.

Jennifer is joined by her sister Jessica Clavin on lead guitar and bass, with Micayla Grace also on bass and Nick Pillot on drums. In the zine, Jennifer recalls how she felt uncomfortable with society's expectations of what girls are supposed to be like, so she dressed up like a boy and went to punk shows. Even though she now enjoys expressing her feminine side, she still feels frustrated with how musicians who also happen to be women as well are treated by society.

As she says in Can You Deal?: "Labelling me as a woman puts me in a box and forces me to conform to gender roles. This ignores everything else I am."

Girli – 'Hot Mess'

Hmm, how to describe Girli? Brash, bold, and incredibly fun.

The 20-year-old London native perfectly captures the condescension women are often subjected to by cis straight guys in 'Hot Mess'. Whether it's about our knowledge or our looks, either way, it's annoying and belittling to be talked down to.

Girli always manages to get the upper hand, though, and changes the narrative by the end of the song so it is she instead who puts the puffed-up dude back in his place.

Bikini Kill – 'Rebel Girl'

We've got to include this classic! While the riot grrrl movement was by no means without its problems (intersectionality was not exactly its focus), Bikini Kill remains a watershed band in terms of female empowerment.

Kathleen Hanna (vocals), Tobi Vail (drums), Kathi Wilcox (bass), and Billy Karren (guitar) came together in the town of Olympia, Washington to start a revolution (or Revolution Girl Style Now! as their 1991 demo was called). They wanted to make feminism accessible in a time when people were saying the movement was dead, and they ended up giving hope to teenage girls everywhere who were fed up with the harassment they experienced in school, on the street, and at shows. 

'Rebel Girl' loudly and proudly celebrates women who are unabashedly themselves. It's the ultimate lady love song, and a welcome battle cry in a society that so often pits women against each other. Why give in to tired narratives of jealousy when instead you can sing 'Rebel girl you are the queen of my world'?

Alien She – 'Death Sentence'

Katie O'Neill (vocals and guitar), Aoife McDonagh (bass and vocals), and Darragh McCabe (drums) are a trio of Irish artists who are brilliant on their own, but also shine in their genre-defying band Alien She. Their music proves both intelligent and expressive.

One notable example is 'Death Sentence', which is painfully honest in describing the issue of abortion in Ireland. 'People face this every day/Tell me what's it gonna take?' they sing in an angry plea.

As well, this track can be bought with a print or tote on their Bandcamp page to support the Goodbye 8 Campaign. 

 

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Richard Bruton has ordered a major review of sex education classes in Irish schools.

The Minister for Education believes that every pupil should have access to information about sexual health, relationships and sexuality.

He said, 'This must be delivered in a factual manner in every school. This review will help to inform decisions regarding the content of the curriculum and how it is delivered.”

Relationships and sex education has been a staple part of the curriculum since 1999, however, some of the content in our school’s sex education lessons is over twenty years old.

The review will look at adding important topics that have an impact on today’s students, including social media and consent.

Minister Bruton has asked the National Council on Curriculum and Assessment to look at the following:

  1. Consent: What is it and it's importance
  2. Contraception, as well as developments in the area
  3. Healthy, positive sexual expression and relationships
  4. Safe use of the internet
  5. Social media and its effects on relationships
  6. LGBTQ+ matters

Both primary and secondary school programmes will be altered in the review, but the new curriculum will be age-appropriate.

Lessons in primary schools will focus on relationships, reproduction and the body.

Secondary students will be informed about consent, which is one of the main issues the NCCA are looking at, developments in contraception and LQBTQ+ issues.

Minister Bruton stressed the importance of the review. He hopes the new curriculum will meet the needs of young people today, 'who face a range of different issues to those faced by young people in the late 1990s.'

They will also ensure that teachers are fully equipped to deliver the lessons, 'It is essential for the curriculum to be delivered by teachers who are fully supported and who feel comfortable teaching the curriculum and talking to their students about sexuality and relationships.'

The National Council on Curriculum and Assessment review will focus on issues including consent and internet safety, as well as self-esteem.

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The French government looks set to reassess its laws around sexual consent following two cases where men were acquitted of raping 11-year-old girls.

As it stands, the age of consent in France is 15, however prosecutors must still prove that the sexual act was non-consensual in order to charge the offender with rape.

According to reports, the country's Justice Minister, Nicole Belloubet, confirmed that officials were considering the introduction of a fixed age, below which “consent is presumed not to exist.”

“The question of the age below which the minor's consent is presumed not to exist is crucial, because there are obviously extremely shocking and unacceptable situations,” she said.

There are currently no laws in place that classify sex with someone below a certain age as rape, meaning that if there is no violence involved, many offenders may only be charged with sexual abuse of a minor.

According to The Irish Independent, Marlene Schiappa, a junior minister for gender equality, said that the cut-off could be between the ages of 13 and 15.

“Below a certain age, it is considered that there can be no debate on the sexual consent of a child, and that any child below a certain age would automatically be considered to be raped or sexually assaulted.”

The news come after two recent court cases highlighted the need for stricter laws in relation to the age of consent.

Two men, 29 and 30, who abused two 11-year-old girls in separate incidents, were both acquitted after it was deemed that their acts did not constitute rape under French law.

According to current legislation, a person can only be charged with rape of a minor if the sexual act is committed “by violence, coercion, threat or surprise.”

In Ireland the age of sexual consent is 17, with additional protection in place to protect children under 15.

Other European countries like Germany and Portugal have a lower age of consent at 14.

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Discussions on rape, sexual harassment and consent have been more prominent than ever in recent weeks, as case after high profile case is exposed in Hollywood and the music industry. 

Yesterday, Hozier gave his two cents on the manner. 

Taking to Twitter, the singer penned a poignant tweet t in favour of consent. 

 

A post shared by Andrew Hozier Byrne (@hozier) on

The Take Me To Church musician framed his tweet in a manner intended to address the commonplace (and incorrect) argument that consent is a grey area, and that articulating consent between adults can ruin the mood.

'Consent is sexy. Lads, if you're not convinced that consent, audible consent -something uttered, something whispered, something called for loudly- is sexy, then chaps I'm afraid you may not be doing this right,' he tweeted. 

'Be well.'

He then followed this with: 'Before I get butchered for using this language, of course it is first and foremost *mandatory*.'

'I'm more addressing a commonly found aversion to "ruining the mood" by discussing sex before an act of sex, which is frankly, nonsense.'

Many people applauded the singer for making a positive contribution to the discussion surrounding sexual violence, and for using his platform to publicise an important issue. 

However, others criticised the singer for framing his comment in such a way. 

'I understand the sentiment but framing consent as sexy isn’t necessarily sending the right message,' tweeted one. 

'Consent isn’t sexy, it is wholly and absolutely necessary.'

In response, Hozier, aka Andrew Byrne, tweeted once more.

'That was a poorly worded tweet. I had seen something that annoyed me re people talking about, voicing, asking etc and provided absolutely no context at all in what I thought was an irreverent jibe aimed at lads. Language matters and framing it that way was silly,' he said.

Fans rushed to his defence, saying 'you're an ally dude. We all see that.'

'If what you said offended somebody then you must be doing something right lol – people on this site at this time are so vitriolic anyway,' said another. 

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So, as examples of poorly executed graphic designs go, we reckon this condom wrapper may be at the top of the list.

One reddit user shared an image of a condom which had been handed out on a college campus, appearing to be branded with the words “Go further without consent” alongside a picture of a rather out-of-place donut.

And as you can probably guess, the image sparked outrage among social media users. 

“Who approved this?” one wrote, while another asked: “How did they arrive at this final product?”

The wrapper is literally telling people to continue with sexual acts whether their partner has consented or not, right?

Well, not quite.

See, the little donut in front on the text actually stands for the words 'Do Not' (apparently), and is part of Say It With a Condom's Consent range.

While the addition of those two, all-important words completely change the message, no one can be blamed for thinking it meant quite the opposite.

We're glad it's all cleared up, but to be honest, we're really struggling to understand how the condom even made it into the production in the first place.

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Today, the issue of sexual consent will be brought before the Cabinet. 

Tánaiste Frances Fitzgerald will seek Cabinet approval to define sexual consent in Irish legislation for the first time ever. 

She will present a memo to this morning’s meeting outlining the inconsistency in Irish law and how she would address it.

The changes will include a definition that a person is incapable of consenting to a sexual act if they are asleep or unconscious.

This includes those who are unconscious due to intoxication, and those who are mistaken about the identity of the other person.

The changes to the law will also stress that a person cannot consent if they are being unlawfully detained, if they are unable to communicate due to a physical disability or if consent is offered through a third party.

A Department of Justice source told the Irish Times that the provisions would provide additional clarity for the legal system in sexual offences cases.

They would also serve “ as a clear reminder to those who would take advantage of persons who, in particular circumstances, are unable to consent.

The Criminal Law (Sexual Offences) Bill, is due to be debated in the Dáil on February 1.

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How many times have you said yes for fear of causing offence, creating tension or engendering ill will?

As women, we’re offered daily reminders that we frequently take on too much or put ourselves out for others due to an innate desire to please all of the people all of the time.

Self-help features and handy listicles on the phenomenon regularly saturate our news feeds – Setting Boundaries And Saying No21 Ways To ‘Give Good No', How To Stop Saying Yes When You Want To Say No – and call to mind the countless times we’ve found ourselves reluctantly complying in daily life.

While these quirky write-ups generally focus on the holy grail that is the ‘perfect’ work / life balance, they do, inadvertently, act as a reminder that when it comes matters of consent, a simple ‘no’ is sometimes not an option.

And yet despite this, it does not mean that the matter of consent is any less black and white.

We may live in a Fifty Shades Of Grey society, but suggesting that the matter falls under any one of those shades is the reason why so many sexual assault cases fail to make it to trial.

If we struggle to say no to a party invite, tie ourselves in knots over declining an after-work coffee or utter a resigned ‘yes’ to an unexpected and totally inconvenient task, how can we be expected to properly articulate ourselves when in fear for our lives?

The matter of consent has dominated headlines in recent months and beneath calls for judicial review and longer sentences in rape cases, there lurks a narrative which suggests that when she doesn’t say no, she ultimately means yes.

From Brock Turner’s laughable three-month stint behind bars to the number of rape cases which collapse before and after making it to trial, there is no doubting the fact that society, as a whole, needs a lesson in consent.

Highlighting the stark difference which exists between consent and submission in last night’s episode of The Fall, Gillian Anderson’s character, Stella, attempted to placate the husband of a woman who struggled to understand his wife’s reaction to being abducted.

Stupefied that she hadn’t screamed or raised the alarm, and instead linked arms with her assailant, he frantically sought answers.

“Men always think in terms of fight or flight. In fact, the most common instinct in the face of this kind of threat is to freeze,” Stella told him.

“If she didn’t fight, if she didn’t scream, if she was silent and numb, it’s because she was petrified. If she went with him quietly, it’s because she was afraid for her life.”

“In that state of fear, she might well have been compliant. She might well have submitted. But that does not mean she consented.”

If we struggle to say no when pressed for an after-work drink, how likely is it we can say no when we’re not certain we’ll make it out of the exchange alive?

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The international meet-up of a controversial "pro-rape" online group will include an event this weekend in Co. Kildare.

Return Of Kings, a site which calls itself a "blog for heterosexual, masculine men" and states that "a woman’s value significantly depends on her fertility and beauty" is planning 165 meetings across 43 countries this weekend.

Ireland's meeting is scheduled to gather in front of the main entrance of Naas Courthouse at 8pm on Saturday, with the site adding that protests will be "likely."

The website also lists a bizarre question ("Do you know where I can find a pet shop"?) and answer which participants can use to find their "fellow tribesmen" at the event.

Return of Kings is led by a blogger named Daryush Valizadeh, who recently pledged for rape to "not be punishable by law" once it took place on private property.

His views led to a 50,000-signature petition aiming to prevent Return Of Kings gatherings taking place in Scotland. 

Other meet-ups have been scheduled for various US states, Australia, China, Chile, Colombia, Mexico, Austria, France, Germany and the UK among other places.

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