'Dear men and boys: this is what I want you to know about consent.'

The following discusses sexual assault and consent. 

This is an extract from Consent Laid Bare by Chanel Contos (Macmillan Australia) 

Consent Laid Bare is an educational book that factually and, in an of-the-moment-way, reports on a number of prevalent issues that the majority of young people face every day. The subjects in this extract are further explained and thoroughly detailed in the other chapters of the book, available here.

We all understand ‘rape’ to be bad, in that we would all be furious if a strange man jumped out of the bushes and raped a woman. In fact, if he did it to someone you cared about, you would probably react quite emotively to the situation. But this type of rape is very rare.

Have you ever heard the fact that you’re more likely to be raped by someone who you know than a stranger? This used to confuse me, as I falsely believed that it meant that someone I knew was actually a creepy predator, and that they were just concealing this from me. I trusted my judgement of my friends and acquaintances too much to believe this. Turns out, what it actually means is that the most common types of sexual assaults are ones that do not fall into a stereotypical category of rape.

There are four different types of rapists; if you would like to learn about the other three, go to pages 43–51 where I elaborate further. But for the sake of brevity, I will skip straight to the entitled opportunist.


Entitled opportunists are rapists who have high social competence and commit their sexual assault on impulse. Their offences are predatory acts that are unplanned and show poor self-control. Little anger is exhibited, and minimal violence (often none), which means it is often sexual coercion that is the avenue that leads to them sexually assaulting someone, or using drugs or alcohol to make it so the victim cannot consent. In the eyes of an entitled opportunist, this is not perceived as so they ‘cannot consent’ but instead so they’re ‘easier’. Ever heard that before? As if consent is a challenge and alcohol lowers the difficulty of the game? Sounds like cheating the system to me.

Watch: Can You Spot The Red Flags Of Domestic Violence? Post continues after the video.

Video via Youtube.

When entitled opportunists are sexually coercing someone, they sound a little bit like this:

‘I’m going to break up with you if you don’t have sex with me.’

‘You’re not mature enough to be with me if you’re not ready to have sex.’

‘You’re going to give me blue balls, you can’t stop.’ 


'I’m going to send the photo that you sent me last week to your parents if you don’t give me head.’ 

It sounds like ten nos before a yes.

It sounds like absolutely nothing – because the woman froze, and couldn’t move or speak.

It feels like having your head pushed down onto someone’s dick when you have no interest in performing oral sex on them.

Their motivating factor does not come from a place of malice or sadism, but their belief in entitlement to immediate sexual gratification. These types of rapists are confident, powerful and opportunistic in other parts of their lives too, all socially admired values in men. This type of rapist can be perceived as a ‘nice’ person, and they are often unaware of the fact that they have sexually assaulted someone until they are older and learn about consent – if they ever do.

The reason they are unaware of this is usually because the people around them have often celebrated the sort of patterns they exhibit more often than they challenge them.

This means that the people around them indirectly tell them that their behaviour is normal and valid. People laugh when they make misogynistic jokes. People high-five them when they stick their hand up someone’s skirt on the bus. People do absolutely nothing when they call out the window of their car to a group of girls.

Entitled opportunist rapists are the vast majority of convicted rapists. When we factor for the legal system being unequipped to prosecute these types of rapists (the legal system can only really prosecute overtly violent acts of rape, which is why we should never equate a legal ‘not guilty’ with a social ‘didn’t happen’), the number of reports that don’t go further than the police station due to lack of evidence (it is hard to collate evidence for a rape, as most of the time it is ‘he said’/‘she said’), the number of people who don’t report to the police, and the number of people who don’t even know what happened to them constitutes rape since they’ve never been educated on consent and uphold stereotypes about rapists, we can imagine how much higher this true figure is.


This is particularly important when we think that it is this type of rapist specifically, and the type of rape that they perpetrate, that individuals would be more hesitant to report due to stigma and fear. Whereas, if someone was kidnapped and raped then escaped, it is much more likely that they would turn to the police system.

Entitled opportunists are made because the world around them has told them that they are entitled to the body of another, especially women. The entitlement the world has to women’s bodies has been subconsciously ingrained in us. Next time you are watching a man walk through a semi-crowded room, notice how often he may put his hands on the lower back of a woman in order to ‘scootch’ past her, but how he won’t do the same to a man. This does not mean the man is an entitled opportunist. It just points out how unbelievably habitual it is for people to touch women’s bodies without consent, even in non-sexual situations. Another example that pregnant women often mention to me is how many strangers (including other women) consider it okay to touch their bump. These examples sound so miniscule that they’re arguably irrelevant in isolation, but they feed into a wider and more insidious manifestation of entitlement over women’s bodies.


The good news about this type of rapist is that, unlike the other three types of rapists, where intergenerational trauma, abuse and physiological problems need to be addressed, an entitled opportunist can be prevented by education on consent and being raised with empathy, particularly towards women.

An entitled opportunist is unlikely to repeat offend if they have either been held accountable for their actions, or if they have been taught explicitly what consent is, when it’s required, how to ask for it, how to accept no, how to give consent and how to navigate all of the areas in between. It’s important to also note that this type of rapist is unlikely to offend in the first place if his misogynistic jokes and acts of sexual harassment have been called out by his peers; if it wasn’t normal to act that way towards women. Generally speaking, these types of rapists do not actively want to hurt anyone, but that does not mean that they do not when their entitlement for instant sexual gratification outweighs their empathy for the person in front of them.

Understanding consent.

When I speak with boys and young men about consent privately, they are often concerned that engaging in the conversation in a group context implies that they don’t understand consent, and that it somehow feels like they are, by default, exposing themselves as rapists. This is difficult, because we desperately need boys and men to be active in these conversations if we wish to change the reality of sex for women – but at the same time their feelings are valid. So how can we navigate this? A good starting point is to first understand that not all conversations about consent are about rape. In fact, it’s much more productive to have conversations about mutual pleasure and healthy intimacy when holding space for the topic of consent, and long-term, speaking about these things is a great way to avoid conversations about sexual assault and rape. While I understand that conversations about male violence and rape are difficult to have, the alternative, which is for these acts to continue, is significantly more uncomfortable.


Consent is generally perceived to be a ‘grey area’ riddled with intricacies and confusion. It is true that there are infinite intricacies as every situation is its own; however, this does not mean that it needs to be confusing. There are a few narratives floating around this idea of ‘consent’. The first is that ‘asking’ would ‘kill the mood’. It won’t. You know what kills the mood? Sexual assault. What gets tricky is when we consider that asking isn’t always enough, because a ‘yes’ doesn’t count if saying ‘no’ doesn’t feel like a safe option.

Women tend to report feeling confused about consent because they are more aware of the social pressures they feel to engage in sex with men, which blurs the lines in their own heads and when they think about the experiences for others. ‘I didn’t actually say no’ is a common afterthought following an uncomfortable sexual experience for a woman, alongside feelings of blame and regret for not doing so. It’s important to understand that if you are to be an ally to women in this pursuit to reduce the rates of sexual violence, you cannot rely on a ‘no’ to define not-consent, because it’s not always easy, and it doesn’t always feel safe to say that word. In moments of fear, humans react in ways that are most likely to get them out of a situation safely. Is it possible for a woman to run away from a man screaming, if generally speaking he is likely larger, stronger and faster than her? Maybe, especially if he’s not the type of person who would chase her – but does she know that in the moment? No. More on this in Chapter 2 if you’re interested.


The truth is, if a man’s behaviour makes a woman feel pressured or unsafe, if she even feels like running away screaming, then they have definitely gone too far. Consent is not only determined when a person lands on a ‘yes’ or a ‘no’; it’s an ongoing process of mutual understanding. It should never feel as though you are pushing or trying to get consent, otherwise the person may feel coerced into the situation and then the ‘consent’ is not true because it is not freely given.

I think this is where a lot of confusion arises: when people find it hard to imagine what it would be like to be in a situation with someone larger than you who wants something from you, and who isn’t too concerned about your pleasure. Think of consent as the absolute minimum required in a sexual interaction. It doesn’t always need to be verbal; it can be read through body language and specifically the enthusiasm of the person in the intimacy. If the focus is on a shared pleasurable experience between enthusiastic sexual partners, nothing can go wrong. When all parties are enthusiastic and empathetic, consent cannot be violated, and it will also be much more fun than if one person was just being compliant.


Growing up, I was taught the mantra ‘treat others how you want to be treated’. I think now that we are older, we can understand how this is a bit self-centred and doesn’t allow room to think about how other people perceive situations depending on their background, their age, their gender, their socioeconomic status, their race or their religion. Instead, I think we should evolve to ‘treat others how they want to be treated’. If you want to stop the rates of violence that women experience every day, please start listening to how we want to be treated, not just in the bedroom, but in all aspects of life. Just because a joke is funny to you, it doesn’t mean it is to the person bearing the brunt of it.

Featured Image: Supplied 

If this post brings up any issues for you, or if you just feel like you need to speak to someone, please call 1800 RESPECT (1800 737 732) – the national sexual assault, domestic and family violence counselling service. It doesn’t matter where you live, they will take your call and, if need be, refer you to a service closer to home.