trent mays

Quick Hit: How to not be Trent Mays

trent maysOne of the strangest things I encounter in anti-violence work is the number of people (usually young men) who are desperately afraid that, if we start really cracking down on rape, they will end up in jail. Their concern doesn’t seem to be that they’ve already raped someone, but that they might in the future despite their very best efforts–as though sexual assault were some kind of unfortunate accident nice boys happen upon occasionally.

Thomas MacAulay Millar at the Yes Means Yes blog posted a great essay yesterday urging teenage boys nervous about Steubenville to calm the fuck down. He doesn’t urge them to be any less vigilant in their concern for consent, but to recognize that their behavior (including, you know, not raping anyone) is entirely within their control:

Trent Mays isn’t a good guy who gave in to temptation to get off.  What they did, over the course of a few hours, was a long series of doing stuff to that girl and then documenting it in pictures and video, not really for their own sexual satisfaction, but because they thought that humiliating her in sexual ways when she was too out of it to do anything about it was funny…

Okay, so are you ready for the foolproof plan not to get charged with rape?

(1)  You’re probably not that guy.  The guy who gets girls drunk on purpose or looks for the really drunk girl at the party, planning on them being basically too messed up to stop you or even to say “no.”  If you are that guy, STOP IT.  STOP IT, they are human beings and you are doing a terrible thing, and someday you may get caught and sent to prison, or someone might beat you into a bloody pulp, and if you believe in hell this is the kind of stuff that sends people there.

You probably know that guy.  If you care about the women he may rape, you can and should cockblock his rapey ass.  I should do a post on that, but this one’s pretty close.

(2) If you’re not that guy, you may be worried that you miss or misinterpret signals.  What if you’re with someone and she seems into you, and then you’re fooling around then she sort of seems like she’s not into it anymore?  Well, there’s a huge difference between “she didn’t say no” and “she said yes.”  And what you want is the yes.  Some folks call that “enthusiastic participation” and some call it “affirmative consent” which sort of sounds more technical, but when you’re getting busy with someone, it sounds like “Yes!” “Take your cock out” “I want to touch it”, “I want to suck it.”  Which is way hotter than just laying there, right?  So how do you get that?  Ask.

You can read the full article here. When you’re done, share it with a young person in your life.

Washington, DC

Alexandra Brodsky was a senior editor at During her four years at the site, she wrote about gender violence, reproductive justice, and education equity and ran the site's book review column. She is now a Skadden Fellow at the National Women's Law Center and also serves as the Board Chair of Know Your IX, a national student-led movement to end gender violence, which she co-founded and previously co-directed. Alexandra has written for publications including the New York Times, the Atlantic, the Guardian, and the Nation, and she is the co-editor of The Feminist Utopia Project: 57 Visions of a Wildly Better Future. She has spoken about violence against women and reproductive justice at campuses across the country and on MSNBC, ABC, NBC, CBS, CNN, FOX, ESPN, and NPR.

Alexandra Brodsky was a senior editor at

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