For too long we've been reluctant to talk about rape, unless it relates to a story involving a predatory sex attacker previously unknown to the victim. Seldom does it get discussed in context of marriage for instance, or for that matter war, because we know male rape is being used increasingly now as an act of terror on captured soldiers and civilians - young lads are apparently particularly at risk of this form of abuse with some so injured they spend the rest of their lives wearing incontinence pads and sanitary towels as a result of horrific injuries.
Rape is a heinous crime which inflicts enormous physical and psychological trauma on victims - I don't imagine any intelligent person would say otherwise.
Unless a man is absolutely certain a woman (or man) is a willing and consenting sexual partner of course he should never attempt to have sex with her - this protects both parties - obviously. If he finds himself coercing her in any way he leaves himself open to the allegation of rape or sexual assault at some point after the event - we need to be emphasising this message to teenagers. But are we?
Although rape has always existed in our society, we know sexual assaults have increased dramatically over the last couple of decades, and as it happens that seems to have coincided with a tidal wave of increasingly graphic pornography people can access very easily from their living rooms now - without the previous embarrassment of having to go to seedy looking shops to ask for girlie mags, as they would have been known in the 50s, 60s etc...
We also know that sex, including the suggestion of very rough sex, is increasingly being used as an advertising tool, such as the ad launched by PETA earlier this year which caused outrage from many women's health groups. Please be aware before watching that this advert has an adult theme...
And then there's "Fifty Shades of Grey" - the erotic novel which is selling even faster than the UK's beloved "Harry Potter" books - over 40 million copies have been sold around the world. The focus of the book is the sado-masochistic relationship between a wealthy business man and a college graduate, and women apparently are lapping this up... It's OK.. they say ..because the male abuser buys the women expensive presents, creams and things for her injuries, showing he does care for her, it's just that he can't stop abusing her. A story I'm sure many women's refuges hear every night of the week "I know he loves me really...", "When he's nice he's lovely though..."
The concern for many of us is, that this type of novel is being presented as some sort of love story and the male abuser as a romantic hero.
Some have drawn similarities between scenes in "Fifty Shades of Grey" and Fred West's abuse of young girls which sickened most of us to the stomach back in 1994 - and yet 18 years on women are seeing this sort of sexual depravity as erotic. Is that really what we've become as a gender having been dragged away from caring for babies at home from the 80s onwards and forced into fulltime work to help pay for extortionate mortgage payments if we wanted to keep a roof over our heads. Are we losing the very qualities men still say they desire in women?
And adding into the equation also, the way in which an increasing number of young women opt for behaving like young lads, going out each weekend to get extremely drunk - staggering along drunk in the early hours, fighting with other women and throwing up in the streets - it's like a lot of women have lost all sense of self respect.
And when you factor in as well, that both men and women have a lot more casual sex now than was once the case and one night stands are far more common, it all paints a pretty ugly picture of society where the positive values communities need to function successfully are getting more and more rare as people care less and less for their own physical safety and mental health and struggle to really respect other people either in the process.
I would suggest if we're serious about bringing the incidence of sexual assaults against women down, we need to look at this hideous mess which has evolved since the 1980s and we have to think about how we're going to encourage people to start valuing themselves again and not putting themselves in positions where they become more vulnerable to an attack.. whether that's being drunk outside in the early hours, or waking up in the bed of a stranger.
Yes men have to take responsibility, of course they do... but so do women... We all have to address this problem and the way we seem to be saying rough sex is sometimes OK when it's a turn on!
In the past, religion offered some sense of morality and social guidelines but I don't think that would work anymore - too many people in the church have been found to be as lacking in morals as the people they used to condemn in their Sunday sermons!
Don't get me wrong, I don't want to return to a time when women were shackled to the kitchen sink - that must have been a miserable existence for so many. But I don't think this so-called liberation is making women happy and fulfilled either...