Skip to main content

Young men, get a 'yes' text before sex

By Roxanne Jones
November 26, 2013 -- Updated 2102 GMT (0502 HKT)
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
September 1, 2014 -- Updated 1221 GMT (2021 HKT)
Carlos Moreno says atheists, a sizable fraction of Americans, deserve representation in Congress.
August 31, 2014 -- Updated 1625 GMT (0025 HKT)
Julian Zelizer says Democrats and unions have a long history of mutual support that's on the decline. But in a time of income inequality they need each other more than ever
August 31, 2014 -- Updated 0423 GMT (1223 HKT)
William McRaven
Peter Bergen says Admiral William McRaven leaves the military with a legacy of strategic thinking about special operations
August 29, 2014 -- Updated 1611 GMT (0011 HKT)
Leon Aron says the U.S. and Europe can help get Russia out of Ukraine by helping Ukraine win its just war, sharing defense technologies and intelligence
August 29, 2014 -- Updated 1724 GMT (0124 HKT)
Timothy Stanley the report on widespread child abuse in a British town reveals an institutional betrayal by police, social services and politicians. Negligent officials must face justice
August 30, 2014 -- Updated 0106 GMT (0906 HKT)
Peter Bergen and David Sterman say a new video of an American suicide bomber shows how Turkey's militant networks are key to jihadists' movement into Syria and Iraq. Turkey must stem the flow
August 28, 2014 -- Updated 1516 GMT (2316 HKT)
Whitney Barkley says many for-profit colleges deceive students, charge exorbitant tuitions and make false promises
August 29, 2014 -- Updated 1434 GMT (2234 HKT)
Mark O'Mara says the time has come to decide whether we really want police empowered to shoot those they believe are 'fleeing felons'
August 28, 2014 -- Updated 1432 GMT (2232 HKT)
Bill Frelick says a tool of rights workers is 'naming and shaming,' ensuring accountability for human rights crimes in conflicts. But what if wrongdoers know no shame?
August 29, 2014 -- Updated 0243 GMT (1043 HKT)
Jay Parini says, no, a little girl shouldn't fire an Uzi, but none of should have easy access to guns: The Second Amendment was not written to give us such a 'right,' no matter what the NRA says
August 30, 2014 -- Updated 1722 GMT (0122 HKT)
Terra Ziporyn Snider says many adolescents suffer chronic sleep deprivation, which can indeed lead to safety problems. Would starting school an hour later be so wrong?
August 29, 2014 -- Updated 1330 GMT (2130 HKT)
Peggy Drexler says after all the celebrity divorces, it's tempting to ask the question. But there are still considerable benefits to getting hitched
August 29, 2014 -- Updated 1849 GMT (0249 HKT)
The death of Douglas McAuthur McCain, the first American killed fighting for ISIS, highlights the pull of Syria's war for Western jihadists, writes Peter Bergen.
August 26, 2014 -- Updated 2242 GMT (0642 HKT)
Former ambassador to Syria Robert Ford says the West should be helping moderates in the Syrian armed opposition end the al-Assad regime and form a government to focus on driving ISIS out
August 27, 2014 -- Updated 1321 GMT (2121 HKT)
Ruben Navarrette says a great country does not deport thousands of vulnerable, unaccompanied minors who fled in fear for their lives
August 27, 2014 -- Updated 1319 GMT (2119 HKT)
Robert McIntyre says Congress is the culprit for letting Burger King pay lower taxes after merging with Tim Hortons.
August 26, 2014 -- Updated 2335 GMT (0735 HKT)
Wesley Clark says the U.S. can offer support to its Islamic friends in the region most threatened by ISIS, but it can't fight their war
August 26, 2014 -- Updated 2053 GMT (0453 HKT)
America's painful struggle with racism has often brought great satisfaction to the country's rivals, critics, and foes. The killing of Michael Brown and its tumultuous aftermath has been a bonanza.
August 26, 2014 -- Updated 1919 GMT (0319 HKT)
Rick Martin says the death of Robin Williams brought back memories of his own battle facing down depression as a young man
August 26, 2014 -- Updated 1558 GMT (2358 HKT)
David Perry asks: What's the best way for police officers to handle people with psychiatric disabilities?
August 25, 2014 -- Updated 1950 GMT (0350 HKT)
Julian Zelizer says it's not crazy to think Mitt Romney would be able to end up at the top of the GOP ticket in 2016
August 25, 2014 -- Updated 2052 GMT (0452 HKT)
Roxanne Jones and her girlfriends would cheer from the sidelines for the boys playing Little League. But they really wanted to play. Now Mo'ne Davis shows the world that girls really can throw.
August 25, 2014 -- Updated 2104 GMT (0504 HKT)
Kimberly Norwood is a black mom who lives in an affluent neighborhood not far from Ferguson, but she has the same fears for her children as people in that troubled town do
August 22, 2014 -- Updated 2145 GMT (0545 HKT)
It apparently has worked for France, say Peter Bergen and Emily Schneider, but carries uncomfortable risks. When it comes to kidnappings, nations face grim options.
ADVERTISEMENT