Royal Military College cadets struggled with questions of sexual consent

Updated: 00:00 GMT, Jan 1, 1970 | Published: 07:57 GMT, May 23, 2015 |

The issue of drunkenness and sexual consent was part of a sex-assault prevention educator’s lecture to Royal Military College cadets last fall that provoked a hostile response from some of the mostly-male audience. It is also at the heart of two of the three allegations of sexual assault made in courts martials for two Royal Military College officer cadets on trial this week in Kingston, Ont. Julie Lalonde says some officer cadets at Canada’s only federal university resisted the presentation she gave, in which she highlighted the current law on consent in Canada — namely, the voluntary agreement to engage in sexual activity.

Lalonde’s campaign teaches that consent for sex cannot be given where someone is incapable of giving it, because of drunkenness, for instance.

Lalonde told Canadian press several cadets in one session argued, “women who drink too much are enabling their own rape.” Lalonde said it was the rowdiest and most hostile crowd she had ever addressed. The cadet, who spoke on condition of anonymity because cadets are not allowed to speak to media without permission, said the mostly male audience objected to Lalonde’s message that men are the problem when it comes to sex assault because most rape is perpetrated by men. More contentious, he said, was her responses when the cadets pressed her about sexual consent and intoxication, including sex when both participants were intoxicated. Under the law, Lalonde said, the male could still be accused of sex assault.

“At this point all respect for the presenter was lost and she struggled to carry on with the presentation in the face of people ignoring her,” he said, although the cadet added he did not hear “cat-calls” or threats made to Lalonde.