If a woman or man is asleep or unconscious, that person isn't going to say anything, which means they can't consent to any kind of sexual activity. So unless that person gives you a firm "yes," it's rape.
That's what the new "Know No" campaign is hoping to teach young men and women across the U.S., as the sexual assault epidemic on college campuses continues to rage on.
Earlier this year the team at Marc USA Chicago, in partnership with Red Snake, took to the streets of Chicago with a few dancers. Each dancer pretended to sleep on a bench or a mattress with a sign reading, "If I can't say no. I can't say yes," in front of them.
Two women at Marc USA, Snake Roth and Stephanie Franke, came up with the idea for the campaign following news the Brock Turner, the man convicted of raping an unconscious Stanford University student, would serve a very short sentence for his crime. After seeing the overflow of outrage from friends and family, the two women got to thinking about how they could make an impact and help stop incidents like these from happening in the future.
What the women learned was that there is still a very large grey area around what consent is. People didn't seem to understand that consent is only given when a woman or man says "yes." "No" is not consent. Silence is not consent. "That made us step back and say we really want to do something about this and maybe that's it. Maybe it's clearing up the grey area so that kids make better decisions. We want to give them a tool and try to start to make a difference," Franke said.
On the Know No website, the team created a series of questions designed to teach young men and women when consent is given and when it is not. "If someone consents to sex on one occasion, is that consent for any later occasions?" or "If someone is overtly flirty, is that consent?" are some of the questions. After answering any number of questions the user can share the quiz with friends on Facebook or Twitter.
The goal with the campaign is to teach as many people as possible what consent is and start some conversations among families and friends around the topic.
The campaign was originally slated to launch later in the month, around peak homecoming season on college campuses, but with news of Turner's early release from prison, the team behind the "Know No" project decided to move up its launch date.
"Yes we are mad about Brock Turner and then there were a couple of other cases following. We started questioning why. Why is this all happening? Why do the victims feel like they can't speak out?" Stephanie Franke, vp creative director at MARC USA, said.
Added Roth: "We created the door for someone to say I'm going to go talk to my little sister, my niece, my nephew. It's one of those things where you start the conversation and that's all you need to do."