The #MeToo movement brought conversation around consent to the fore. While that’s wonderful, we must avoid the trap of thinking that consent matters only under the sheets. While yes, with enthusiastic and ongoing yes is the only way to get frisky, consent goes far beyond sex.
Is consent relevant only in the context of sex?
Absolutely not! Consent is important in every interaction with everyone – including children – and understanding this is crucial to building a world of kindness and respect. Consent is a culture, and not simply something that comes up in some conversations or types of interactions.
Consent culture – which came as an antidote to rape culture – is one where asking others about their preferences – whether it’s about dinner, movies, or secs – and respecting those choices, comes as naturally to us as breathing.
And no, we’re not there yet!
If we want to normalize consent in bed, it’s important to cultivate a consent culture outside of it, because respecting one’s individuality and autonomy is not a switch you can just turn on or off.
So, what does consent look like?
Here are the five characteristics of consent:
- Ongoing – Anyone can change their mind about what they’re interested in doing, anytime. For example, you can enjoy the first serving and not want a second serving!
- Freely Given – Saying yes without any pressure or manipulation, and not because you feel there’ll be consequences if you say no
- Specific – Saying yes to one act doesn’t mean you say yes to others. For example, saying yes to the main course doesn’t mean saying yes to dessert, if you know what I mean.
- Informed – Without any deception or lies, and with full information about what one is consenting to
- Enthusiastic – Meaning that the person is genuinely excited by what they are consenting to, saying yes because they want to and not because they feel they have to or should
Now, apply these five to any interaction with others, and think about how much consent there really is in your life.