Writing for online student newspaper The Tab, 19-year-old George Lawson from Rugby revealed that he rejected the invitation to the workshop because he took it as "a massive, painful, bitchy slap in the face". The article included a photograph of him holding a sign that read, "This is not what a rapist looks like." The image is captioned, "Do I really look like a rapist?"
"[The invitation] implies I have an insufficient understanding of what does and does not constitute consent and that's incredibly hurtful," said Lawson. "I don't have to be taught to not be a rapist. That much comes naturally to me, as I am sure it does to the overwhelming majority of people you and I know. Brand me a bigot, a misogynist, a rape apologist, I don't care. I stand by that."
He continued: "I already know what is and what isn't consent. I also know about those more nuanced situations where consent isn't immediately obvious as any decent, empathetic human being does. Yes means yes, no means no."
Lawson's views have caused outrage online. "The irony is that this is exactly the sort of twit who needs to go on a consent course," tweeted Jane Casey, while Lone Wells said she was "speechless at how someone can undermine such important education."
In response to Lawson's article, fellow Warwick University student and I Heart Consent volunteer Josie Throup penned a piece for The Tab titled, "Why consent workshops are a necessity".
Retaliating against Lawson's controversial sign, Throup is pictured holding a piece of paper with "This is what a consent educator looks like" on it. She points out that 80 percent of rape victims know their attacker, which is why it's so important to educate people. "I wanted to run workshops which debunk the common myth which people like this writer still seem to believe, that 'rape only occurs between strangers in dark alleys'," wrote Throup. "He took a picture with a sign, proclaiming 'This is not what a rapist looks like', when the truth is, it is."
Lawson isn't alone in his views. He's far from the only man who would take offence at being invited to a sex consent workshop, or see it as an accusation. Which only proves further that they are needed. Because unfortunately, and shockingly, the vast majority of rapists are "normal" men, men who consider themselves to be "decent, empathetic human beings", just like Lawson does. Men who are husbands, boyfriends, students sitting next to you in the lecture hall.
The I Heart Consent workshops are being held in student unions across the U.K. to encourage young people to have open, honest conversations about sexual consent.
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