Skip to main content

Young men, get a 'yes' text before sex

By Roxanne Jones
updated 4:02 PM EST, Tue November 26, 2013
Roxanne Jones says to avoid any doubt, young men and women should text consent before sexual encounters.
Roxanne Jones says to avoid any doubt, young men and women should text consent before sexual encounters.
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Allegations of rapes during college and high school drinking parties are plentiful
  • Every year 97,000 students 18 to 24 are victims of alcohol-related sexual assault
  • Roxanne Jones urges young men about to have sex with a girl to get her to text it's OK
  • Jones: No means no, but boys can protect themselves with a text if she says yes

Editor's note: Roxanne Jones is a founding editor of ESPN The Magazine and a former vice president at ESPN. She is a national lecturer on sports, entertainment and women's topics and a recipient of the 2010 Woman of the Year award from Women in Sports and Events. She is the co-author of "Say It Loud: An Illustrated History of the Black Athlete," (Random House) and CEO of Push Media Strategies.

(CNN) -- "Watch out for the stupid girls," I tell my son. "They are trouble."

You know the type -- the party girls, the girls who thrive on attention. The girls who will do anything to get a guy to notice them, as the pop star Pink riffs on one of her best-ever songs, "Stupid Girls": "If I act like that, flipping my blond hair back, push up my bra like that ... that guy will call me back."

Roxanne Jones
Roxanne Jones

The problem is that all the kids in college are smart or they wouldn't be there in the first place, as my dean's list son likes to remind me. Admittedly, it's a tricky conversation to navigate, but I'm not giving up. There's too much at stake.

It seems nearly every week, we hear news stories about sexual encounters at parties where everyone is drinking -- and a young woman says she was raped, and a young man insists the encounter was consensual.

Make no mistake, no woman -- no matter how much she parties -- is asking to be raped. But too often when heavy drinking is involved, the meaning of consent can be misconstrued on both sides. According to the National Institute of Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, each year about 97,000 students between the ages of 18 and 24 are victims of alcohol-related sexual assault or date rape. And those are only the cases that are actually reported.

So understandably, parents worry about how best to prepare their daughters and sons for college. We spend a lot of energy learning to navigate the academic and financial requirements. We give years of thought to which colleges are a best fit for our kids. Once they are accepted, we make sure our children are sent off to college with every overpriced, not-so-necessary item listed on the "what-to-pack-for-college" list. And just before we drop them off on campus, we make sure we have "The Talk" about focusing on grades and not getting caught up in the party scene.

Never have sex with a girl unless she's sent you a text that proves the sexual relationship is consensual
Roxanne Jones

In my case, I filled my son's duffel bag with about 300 condoms and told him watch out for party girls but have fun; meet new people but stay focused on academics.

But I know from my own fun-filled years at Penn State that campus life can be confusing even for the best of kids. So I taught him how to do his own laundry, grocery shop and cook -- just so he wouldn't have to depend on anyone else to do those things. But lately, I've been worried that I left out one important piece of advice that is a must-do today:

Never have sex with a girl unless she's sent you a text that proves the sexual relationship is consensual beforehand. And it's a good idea to even follow up any sexual encounter with a tasteful text message saying how you both enjoyed being with one another -- even if you never plan on hooking up again.

Crazy, I know, but I've actually been encouraging my son and his friends to use sexting -- minus the lewd photos -- to protect themselves from being wrongly accused of rape. Because just as damning text messages and Facebook posts helped convict the high-schoolers in Steubenville of rape, technology can also be used to prove innocence.

How to protect yourself from false rape allegations is a constant conversation among professional athletes. I've covered many rape cases over my career, including those of Kobe Bryant, the Duke lacrosse team, and many others that never made the headlines. Sports agents and athletes have tried everything from openly or secretly recording their sexual encounters, which is illegal in some states, to asking all women they have sex with to sign a pre-consent form. And though the public may scoff at stories of athletes who frequent strip clubs or solicit prostitutes, many athletes say they do this to avoid unwarranted sex assault charges.

NIAA research shows that more than 80% of college students drink alcohol, and almost half report binge drinking -- five drinks for men, four for women, over two hours -- in the past two weeks. And binge drinking can cause many of us, no matter what age, to make bad decisions.

Let's face it, the sexual revolution is real -- but because we still fail to discuss sex and evolving sexual mores frankly with our sons and daughters, all this freedom has led to confusion about the ever-changing rules of engagement when it comes to sex. But one thing is a constant: When a girl tells a boy no, he must always believe her and stop.

Parents need to step up. I'm doing my part, raising a son to respect women and himself by talking to him about how to navigate the freedom that comes with college life.

But we need to do more work to teach our daughters that women also have an equal personal responsibility to respect their bodies. And true equality means that we are also held accountable for our actions. Partying and drinking until you are no longer in control of your body or mind instantly sets you up to become a victim of rape or bodily harm -- or even to die.

Nobody wants to be a stupid girl. It's time for us girls to smarten up. And it's time for guys to understand -- when a girl is way drunk, it doesn't make it open season on her. In fact, it's just the opposite: If she's falling down drunk, stay away, far away.

Follow us on Twitter @CNNOpinion.

Join us on Facebook/CNNOpinion.

The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of Roxanne Jones.

ADVERTISEMENT
Part of complete coverage on
updated 2:12 PM EDT, Fri August 1, 2014
By now it should be painfully obvious that this latest round of the Israeli-Palestinian crisis in Gaza is fundamentally different than its predecessors.
updated 5:24 PM EDT, Fri August 1, 2014
Sally Kohn says like the Occupy Wall Street protesters, Market Basket workers are asking for shared prosperity.
updated 7:31 PM EDT, Thu July 31, 2014
President Obama will convene an Africa summit Monday at the White House, and Laurie Garrett asks why the largest Ebola epidemic ever recorded is not on the agenda.
updated 2:03 PM EDT, Fri August 1, 2014
Seventy years ago, Anne Frank made her final entry in her diary -- a work, says Francine Prose, that provides a crucial link to history for young people.
updated 7:50 PM EDT, Thu July 31, 2014
Van Jones says "student" debt should be called "education debt" because entire families are paying the cost.
updated 3:41 PM EDT, Wed July 30, 2014
Stuart Gitlow says pot is addictive and those who smoke it can experience long-term psychiatric disease.
updated 7:00 PM EDT, Thu July 31, 2014
Marc Randazza: ESPN commentator fell victim to "PC" police for suggesting something outside accepted narrative.
updated 2:45 PM EDT, Thu July 31, 2014
Mark O'Mara says working parents often end up being arrested after leaving kids alone.
updated 4:31 PM EDT, Wed July 30, 2014
Shanin Specter says we need to strengthen laws that punish auto companies for selling defective cars.
updated 12:45 PM EDT, Wed July 30, 2014
Gabby Giffords and Katie Ray-Jones say "Between 2001 and 2012, more women were shot to death by an intimate partner in our country than the total number of American troops killed in the Iraq and Afghanistan wars combined."
updated 7:58 AM EDT, Wed July 30, 2014
Vijay Das says Medicare is a success story that could provide health care for everybody, not just seniors
updated 1:43 PM EDT, Wed July 30, 2014
S.E. Cupp says the entrepreneur and Dallas Mavericks owner thinks for himself and refuses to be confined to an ideological box.
updated 9:11 AM EDT, Wed July 30, 2014
A Christian group's anger over the trailer for "Black Jesus," an upcoming TV show, seems out of place, Jay Parini says
updated 4:28 PM EDT, Wed July 30, 2014
LZ Granderson says the cyber-standing ovation given to Robyn Lawley, an Australian plus-size model who posted unretouched photos, shows how crazy Americans' notions of beauty have become
updated 3:39 PM EDT, Wed July 30, 2014
Carol Dweck and Rachel Simmons: Girls tend to have a "fixed mindset" but they should have a "growth mindset."
ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT