Una Mullally, sexual consent classes, and dissent

I’m not on Twitter, but my fella is; so I’m obliged to annoyingly look over his shoulder occasionally to sneer at something. Anything.

I spotted this gem earlier from some bloke re-tweeted by Róisín Ingle:

“any1 justifying why they don’t need to attend a sexual consent workshop NEEDS to go 2 1 ASAP”

An obvious reference to the dissent greeting Una Mullally’s piece in the Irish Times’ today instructing readers on why we need “a solid framework of education around sex and consent”, which apparently amounts to compulsory sexual consent classes due to be introduced for freshers to Trinity in the coming year.

Mullally makes no reference to proven models of good practice that exist within youth work provision; the comparatively higher success in exploring these issues at a younger age in a non-formal educational setting in which young people are facilitated to explore the responsibilities that come with sexual development along with their peers rather than top-down instruction; and the on-going cuts to the sector that attack this vital function.

Instead, the reader is treated to a blunt defence of the approach, and a neat comparison of these classes with the similarly necessary imposition of breathalyser tests, and other put-’em-up tactics designed to undermine the legitimacy of any chin-stroking or reservations about the move. The limits to the elasticity of consent in the context of debate are seemingly off-limits. And that might well be the most annoying sentence I’ve ever written, but let me not interrupt my own righteousness any further…

The problem with reserving the right to reflect on the issues a little longer than the length of an opinion column and its umpteen curled lips, is that one is obliged to share question marks with strange bedfellows. By strange, I mean bonkers, as a cursory read of the regular commentariat below the line of columns on the Irish Times website will confirm.

Similarly, the problem with having a left-leaning feminist outlook is that that broad value system is shared with what appears to be an increasingly bug-bite ridden band of bed-fellows intent on knocking themselves (and the validity of their own argument) out with spectacular feats of intolerance. Shutting down the need for all ideas to be given a good kicking appears very much at odds with their own philosophy.

The quality of the debate is one thing, but the rush to paralyse it with such thoughtful and insightful comments as the tweet above is further evidence that elements of both the Bonkers and the Left are becoming indistinguishable. Or as my new best friends over at the Irish Times’ comments section would put it – what a load of shite.

For a more rounded, open-ended, view on the issue that treats the reader as an adult, have a read at Fionola Meredith’s take from the same paper. Or as my new best enemies over at the Irish Times’ comment section would put it – what a load of shite.

And your Ma smells of wee.

4 thoughts on “Una Mullally, sexual consent classes, and dissent

  1. Is it not a bit late by the time they get to Uni? Surely it makes more sense to change attitudes throughout the time at school. Consent isn’t just about sex, it’s an attitude issue as well. I read both articles. I’m a bit perplexed as to why Lawlor got such a hard time. His comments made sense to me. It’s unlikely that any amount of compulsory consent classes will make much difference after the beers kick in. Those who pay attention when sober will probably still do so. And those who don’t give a shit anyway won’t.

    • I’m probably with you on this one. Fionola is taking umbrage at the mandatory nature of the approach, as opposed to the need for on-going education about consent, but she and others daring to raise a brow are being dismissed outright as not understanding the problem, and perpetuating the downplaying of rape culture. That on-going arrogance would be laughable if it weren’t so dangerous. There’s a world of difference between reflecting on the purported benefits of mandatory lessons, and making crass jokes about the topic as per the usual troll behaviour. Lumping folk together is irresponsible, and responsible debate is integral to changing any attitude. Lawlor was treated appallingly without justification.

  2. You should be on twitter! I’d probably stalk your tweets. Not to freak you out or anything. We’re the opposite in my house, himself actually logs into my account all the time.
    I couldn’t agree more with Fionola Meredith’s piece more. What screamed at me when I heard this story last week is that university age is way too late to be addressing these issues. Proper education and open discussion for both sexes at a much younger age is needed.

    • Indeed. I don’t doubt both Una Mullally and Fionola Meredith are well-intentioned, but there’s this leap from certain commentators, and the ardent supporters and ‘mates’ of columnists to dismiss any hang-on-a-second appeals with snooty certainties that the dissenter OBVIOUSLY doesn’t understand the extent of the problem. That truly is a load of condescending shit. Defining the problem is one thing; and there is broad consensus on that. Debating solutions another. When it comes to the latter, no-one can be so all-knowing, except me obviously. Which is why 140 characters is insufficient for the wisdom I have to impart. 🙂

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