Can You Hear Me Now: A Teenager Talks About Consent

Mar 22, 2018

Dayton Youth Radio gives teenagers a chance to tell their own stories, in their own words. And we hear them trying to make sense of the world. We hope that stories like this promote dialogue and openness with the young people you care about.

The country has been talking non stop about sexual assault and harassment. And it turns out that this is a conversation young people are having and urging others to join them. 

My name is Adriana Harris, and I'm a 17 year old African American teenager. I want to talk about something very serious to me: rape and sexual assault.

Some of the things I want to say you might not want to hear, but you're going to listen to me.

Almost every woman I know at least 16 years of age has a sexual assault story to tell, and half of them didn’t know they were assaulted. Most of them didn't even know that it was sexual assault until I said, "Oh hey, you know you've been sexually assaulted."

Many women have been raped or know someone who has, but men don’t seem to know when their friends are predators. Your homeboy will brag about the chick he smashed without mentioning she said no one hundred times and eventually gave in. He also won't mention how he had to manipulate her to get his way.

“My homeboy wouldn't do that!" they say. Yes, he would, and you know he would.

Despite the fact that rape and sexual assault is a common occurrence, nobody ever believes the victim. Can we stop asking, “What were you wearing? Why were you drinking? Why didn’t you call the police? What did you think you were going to happen walking home alone?"

Any other question besides, “Are you okay?” is unacceptable. I believe you. Me too.

Consent is not a black and white, “yes” or “no,” and we need a better understanding of what consent is. The absence of “no” is not consent. Just because they didn’t say “no” does not mean they said “yes.”

Condom removal is also sexual assault. Someone who is too drunk/high/sleepy to function properly cannot consent. Stop blaming the victim, and start telling men to keep their hands to themselves

Do you know a woman who’s been sexually assaulted? If you're a woman, maybe you do; maybe it was you? If you're a male, you might not, but it could be your sister, your mother, your daughter. That's why you're going to  listen to me. Are you listening now?

Adriana Harris is a senior at Ponitz CTC High School. Special Thanks to Ponitz Radio media arts instructors Joanne Viskup and Jeffrey Crowell and to Katie Davis. Learn more at the school's website: http://ponitzctc.org/

Dayton Youth Radio is supported by the Virginia W. Kettering Foundation and the Ohio Arts Council