Woman with thought bubbleAugust’s online activism was all about #consent.

The month started with the unfortunate emergence of pickup artist, Roosh V, and a widely shared petition to ban him from visiting Canada. The petition didn’t keep him out but it did get people talking, and #DenyRooshV became a rallying cry for those opposed to his pro-rape message.

In the midst of this, Feminist Canada, We Give Consent and Fredericton Youth Feminists hosted a well-timed Twitter chat on #ConsentCulture.

The lively conversation engaged women’s organizations, activists and politicians across the country, including Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne and the Ontario Minister Responsible for Women’s Issues Tracy MacCharles.   The discussion included everything from the definition of consent, stats on Canadians’ understanding of consent, successes and challenges in #consentculture activism, and the roles of women, men, governments and community organizations in creating #consentculture. It also linked to the #ItsNeverOkay and #WhoWillYouHelp campaigns, which have been raising awareness about consent since March when Ontario’s action plan to stop sexual violence and harassment was launched.

The language we use to talk about sexual violence is changing for the better – and here at the Canadian Women’s Foundation we’re excited to be part of that change.

In May, we conducted an unprecedented study into Canadians’ understanding of and attitudes about consent. We found that while 96% of Canadians agree that sexual activity between partners should be consensual, 67% don’t understand what it means. We also found that 1 in 10 Canadians believe consent isn't required between spouses or long-term partners, and that 1 in 5 young adults mistakenly believe that if a woman sends a man an explicit photo this means she is consenting to sex.

Next week, we’re taking another step to raise awareness about the importance of consent and to build #consentculture here in Canada – join us as we launch a new campaign on September 8!

Together, we can change a culture that condones sexual violence – and we will.

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