A week or so has passed, and Julian Assange has moved from the front pages of the world as he stood on the balcony of the Ecuadorian embassy to the metaphorical chip wrappers. Good riddance I say, and I hope his welcome becomes ever more strained in the single floor of a London building that is forever a little piece of Ecuador.
We've seen the issue of sexual consent raised to the fore again over the Assange case, and if any good can be salvaged from the affair I think that's it. It's a message that needs to be propagated to the point at which it reaches self-evidence among all sections of the population, and at least the sordid details of Assange's conduct have helped do it.
Unfortunately though we've also seen some regrettable incidents. People who should know better, running off at the mouth about what does and does not constitute good sexual etiquette, or even defining crazy new terms such as "legitimate rape". And while those in the public eye who make such comments are likely to suffer the wrath of their electorates as a consequence, these moments are a symptom of basic misunderstandings by all sides of the debate which must be addressed if the aim of achieving proper respect of sexual consent is to be achieved.
If there is one thing transgender people alone can supply, it is a perspective on both sides of the gender divide. Growing up trying to be successful as a man has given me an insight into how men view the issue of date rape and sexual consent, and my impression of Mr. Average is one of confusion, worry, and anger.
You see, Mr. Average is not and will never be a rapist. Whatever the equipment he was born with gives him the potential to do, his sexual liaisons will not stray very far from the straight and narrow. He'll never cross any lines in the sand, never take advantage of something he shouldn't, and the Mrs'll make sure he never even thinks of invading her beauty sleep for a spot of uninvited rumpy-pumpy. Yes, Mr. Average doesn't get up to much beyond the confines of his Wimpey home and his Ford Mondeo.
But even Mr. Average has an ego. Deep inside he still fancies himself as a pick-up artist, a player if you will. Even though it'll never happen he likes to think he can find himself in a situation in which he meets the girl of his dreams in a pub and nips down to the Travelodge for a night of torrid passion. And it is this side of him that has made him confused and angry. When he reads of a date rape case, it comes across to him as though such an accusation could happen to anyone, to him even.
Nobody likes being called a criminal, and when someone sees themselves as being accused by association of a particularly vile crime they are likely to react with anger and, dare I say it, stupidity rather than reason.
So Mr. Average needs to use the brain God gave him for once, and think before he speaks. And anyone who is addressing him on the subject should take a moment to understand where his misunderstandings are coming from and try to frame their message within the confines of his understanding rather than their own. I really wish that more anti-rape campaigners came from the advertising industry, you don't get very far trying to sell a product in the commercial space by winding up your customers.
Ever since I first heard of date rape when I was a student back in the early 1990s I've felt the message has constantly become lost in the same shouty argument between the ignorant louts on one side and the shrill campaigners on the other. I hope one day common sense will prevail and both sides will realise it's not about them but the message. After all, it's not a difficult thing to understand, is it.