Consent – There Are No Blurred Lines!

What does this word consent mean?

And look like anyway?

 

So let’s break this down, waaaaaay down. You’ve probably heard about consent by now. It is becoming a bigger part of our society so it’s time we added some easy to understand information about it for you.

 

Consent is actively (and hopefully enthusiastically) agreeing to any sexual activity with someone.

 

Not agreeing, or being forced to participate unwillingly in any sexual activity (including oral, penetrative, phone, photo sharing, sexting, groping/genital touching and verbal) is sexual assault and/or rape.

 

Pretty serious right?

 

Planned Parenthood describes consent as easy as FRIES

 

Freely given – it cannot be coerced

Reversible – you can change your mind anytime

Informed – you need the full story

Enthusiastic – only do what you’re excited about, not what you’re expected to

Specific- yes to one thing does not mean yes to everything.

 

You can always change your mind during any sexal act if you start to feel uncomfortable. You can even ask to slow down. The big ticket is communication. Make sure that you are comfortable enough to speak your mind with whoever you are being intimate with. If you don’t feel comfortable it might be an indication that you should wait. Go slow. Take your time. Check in with yourself frequently.

 

Now we’ve looked at ourselves and consent, time to look at the people we are with. We are not mind readers, and sometimes people don’t speak their minds, we get it, so it is very important to take everything into consideration in the heat of the moment even when you are super excited. What is their body language like? Are they leaning closer or leaning away? Are they hesitant? Are they excited? Check in with your partner? Ask them if they like this or that? Ask them if you can kiss them here, or touch them there. Remove this piece of clothing. If they say yes, green light. Do it. If they say no, stop. Ask them if they are ok. If they pause, slow down, check in, see if you need to slow down or stop altogether. They might just need to catch their breath. But you won’t know unless you ask. Communication is the key.

 

Consent violation is more and more pressing and recognised in society and comes in many forms. For years the topic of clothing and how a person dresses has been portrayed in news and headlines as “asking for it.” BBC’s Quickies portrays it quite well that what we wear does equal skiing for anything. We see one of the actors barging into a conference room, dressed professionally and saying “i’m here for my promotion. Clearly I’m asking for it.” or another dressed for vacation and leaving work stating that they didn’t need to clear it with HR because, I mean, look at what she was wearing. Her intent was clear. Wasn’t it? The clip sends a resounding message that what we wear is not consent. It’s a no.

 

 

Over time, many have felt the need to be silent about their consent being violated. But this is not the case. It is important to confide in people you are close to, and if it is a serious offence, to contact the local authorities to ensure that this behaviour does not continue.

 

Violating Consent can look like:

  • Refusing to acknowledge “no”

  • Assuming that wearing certain clothes, flirting, or kissing is an invitation for anything more

  • Someone being under the legal age of consent, as defined by the law

  • Someone being incapacitated because of drugs or alcohol

  • Pressuring someone into sexual activity by using fear or intimidation

  • Assuming you have permission to engage in a sexual act because you’ve done it in the past

#Thisdoesntmeanyes

World famous photographer Perou started the campaign #Thisdoesntmeanyes, photographing 120 women in london at random to outline the rape culture that was happening in London. Their website could not be more accurate when it comes to consent:

A SHORT SKIRT IS NOT A YES.

A RED LIP IS NOT A YES.

A WINK IS NOT A YES.

A SLOW DANCE IS NOT A YES.

A WALK HOME IS NOT A YES.

A DRINK BACK AT MINE IS NOT A YES.

A KISS ON THE SOFA IS NOT A YES.

WHAT I WEAR AND HOW I BEHAVE ARE NOT INVITATIONS.

THERE’S A MYTH THAT SURROUNDS WOMEN, A MYTH THAT EMBROILS THEM:

WOMEN WHO DRESS OR BEHAVE SUGGESTIVELY,

WOMEN WHO ARE PLAYFUL OR WHO ACT PROVOCATIVELY,

WOMEN WHO FLIRT OR OPENLY DISCUSS SEX – THEY’RE ‘ASKING FOR IT’.

IT’S AN INSIDIOUS FABLE, AND IT NEEDS TO STOP.

EVERY WOMAN HAS A RIGHT TO FREEDOM OF EXPRESSION.

NO WOMAN DESERVES TO BE RAPED FOR IT.

NO ONE SHOULD BE ABLE TO BLAME RAPE ON A SHORT SKIRT.

A SHORT SKIRT CAN’T TALK – A SHORT SKIRT CAN’T SAY ‘YES’.

THE ONLY YES SHOULD BE AN ACTIVE AND EMBODIED ‘YES!’

 

But it is not only Women. Consent is important regardless of gender, sexuality and diversity. Too often we disregard a no and even degrade the importance of such topics because men have been seen to “handle it”. Not only is it important to be respectful of ALL consent. It is important to remember that many people have also been taken advantage of saying that consent has been violated when in fact it wasn’t the case. So now in society not only are there Consent Violators, there are also False Stories of Consent. Both can gravely hurt and injure a person’s psyche, mentality, self esteem and trust.

 

So How can we tackle consent?

The above video is a brilliant representation of thinking of consent like offering a person a cup of tea. That you can’t force a person to drink tea if they say no. You cannot get an unconscious person to drink tea. A person can say yes, and then choose not to drink the tea once it arrives.

 

We can talk about consent. Make it normal and break the stigma around keeping silent. If someone discloses a moment when they were uncomfortable or their consent was compromised or broken, listen attentively and supportively. Sympathise and ask if there is anything you can do to help them, or get them in touch with someone who could help. Please try not to be dismissive when someone is visibly hurt or upset by something that has happened to them.

 

We can teach consent, constantly and consistently with everyone. Everyone benefits from talking about consent. The more we talk about our own experiences of asking consent in situations, the more we will all learn different ways to practice asking consent. And it can be sexy.

 

Consent Examples everyone can try:

 “Can I touch your arm.”

“Can I kiss you?”

“Can I take off your shirt?”

“Can I hold your phone to look at that picture?”

“I would love to hold you closer, is that ok?”

“Would you like to try anal play?

“Want to see some pictures of me naked?”

“Is this ok?”

“Does my ***** feel nice?”

 

Consent can be sexy and inviting when you use your imagination, when you’re enthusiastic and when you’re respectful.

 

At your Service,

 

Tiffany

OhZone Adult Shop Sales Assistant, Educator and Consent Advocate.

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