Sexual Offense Prevention Policy

April 6, 2008 at 2:47 pm (amazing things, feminism, injustice, LGBT, sex) (, , , )

In honor of the Gender-shenanigans that went down last night, and of course to afford Daisy and Emily more time to watch Lost, I am going to post briefly on something called the Sexual Offense Prevention Policy, or SOPP. It is a policy at my school designed to combat Rape Culture and make everyone feel a little more safe and secure about their sexual and gender identities, and the likelihood of harassment.

The main point of SOPP is consent. The two or more parties involved in physical activity of ANY kind, from hugging to making-out to fighting to naked jello wrestling, must VOICE explicit consent at every level of said activity. Basically, you have to hear the word “Yes” before you can throw your partner down and rub jelly in their face.

Obviously SOPP gets fudged a lot if you’re in a long term relationship, and its pretty darn ineffective against rape or any sort of real sexual harassment. But if something out of line does occur, under SOPP a complaint can be filed, and that person will be kicked out of school/banned from campus/reported to the police, etc.

But what does SOPP really do? It doesn’t stop harassment. My first month at Antioch I was verbally harassed very badly, in the form of questions. I would say no to one sexual position and I would quickly be asked if I was open to another, and this would go on and on and on. There is also definitely rape, fighting, and child abuse on this campus. Although I have seen some pretty bad situations, such as fights, adverted because of SOPP.

What SOPP does manage to achieve is an open dialogue. Some people have already gotten to this place on their own, and for that, I applaud you. But partly because of SOPP and partly because Antioch is a sex-positive campus, the conversations about sex are never-ceasing. In a society where you are forced to talk about what feels good to you sexually, how you identify, even what diseases you have, all before you actually sleep with someone, misunderstandings and some bad situations are avoided.

The SOPP: talking is good. Consent is good. Dialogue about important issues, such as sex, is very, very good. And I live in a community where if you don’t follow these guidelines, then you lose the right to be a community member. Because it’s that important.

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3 Comments

  1. humbition said,

    I’ve always been curious as to how this policy works in practice.

    For example, what about the very early stages of flirtation? Is it easier, or harder, to approach someone you might be interested in when you don’t know whether they are interested in you? What are the times and places where this happens? Is it more common for women to initiate such things (in particular, heterosexually) than in the culture at large?

    Does this atmosphere bring shy people out of their shells? or does it set up a dynamic where the socially integrated ones find each other easily and others just stay in the background? Does it inhibit some people, or does it pretty much disinhibit them across the board?

  2. Isabel said,

    Thanks for raising these questions, humbition. They’re very pertinent, although I can’t really answer them except in regard to my own experiences.

    Really the SOPP takes the guesswork out of it. If someone’s not interested in you, then you’ll know. It often makes physical interaction go much faster and smoother. I can say with confidence that it happens everywhere, all the time. People at Antioch are constantly asking if they can touch, or hug, or kiss. I believe that the SOPP gives everyone a chance to have this kind of dialogue and doesn’t leave shy people out, although if someone is shy they still might not be able to initiate.

    How one uses and is affected by the SOPP is a very personal experience, so I couldn’t tell you about women in general or heteronormative couples.

  3. SOPP Erotica « Our Descent Into Madness said,

    […] pm (education, fuck the puritans!, funny!, sex) For this to make the best kind of sense, please refer to back to SOPP and the guidelines […]

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