Let's Talk About Consent, And Why You Should Be Talking About It Too
Consent is a sensitive subject. While this is understandable, the topic still needs to be discussed.
It’s no big secret – most of us have sex. I know, I said the s word. But let’s not be uptight about that. Our society describes anything that happens in the bedroom as hugely taboo, despite the discussion being relevant to many of us. If you’re happy taking your clothes off in front of somebody, you should feel happy talking about the stuff that comes with it too.
Consent is considered a very black and white thing. Yes means yes. No means no. Both of these statements are correct, and I support them fully. It doesn’t matter if you’re good looking, they’re wearing little clothing, or they wanted it yesterday – a no is still a no. But actually, I think there’s a much bigger picture.
To all those people (and I have to admit, a lot of you seem to be self-entitled fuckboys) who roll their eyes over the consent debate, I want you to listen carefully. While you sit there grumbling, do you want me to get their bloody signature before doing the deed?, or what ever happened to spontaneity?, you’re taking the situation too literally. It’s more than just a matter of saying yes or no.
Consent is, centrally, about permission. But a yes and a no can come in many forms. We’re not asking you to ‘kill the mood’ by laying down a term of agreement before getting with somebody. Just use your common sense. Do you want to take this further? Can I touch you there? Are you okay? Ask questions that, not only show you care, but allow you to know your partner is happy with what you’re doing – and probably likes it.
Not a chatty person? Communication is key, but there are other signs to look out for. What is their body language like? Have you been drinking? Are you in a position where the person feels they can’t say no? For example, they might only be saying yes because they feel they owe you something – rather than actually wanting it – or they may be afraid of what you’ll do to them if they’re rejected.
In our patriarchal society, problems with consent often overlap with lad culture. Some men will take what they think is rightfully theirs, without thinking twice about what the other person wants. It’s a big problem. Just think of the number of girls you know who have had an uninvited hand grope them in a nightclub, or the number of women who have spoken out in the #metoo campaign. But also consider that this entire discussion doesn’t only apply to men towards women. This heteronormative angle does not show the whole picture. Consent applies in any relationship. Whether that be mixed genders, two men, two women, or anything else.
And actually, women still need to be mindful towards their male partners. If he’s not into period sex, he doesn’t have to do it. If he doesn’t want to try out BDSM, don’t force him to. See? The rules still apply.
Consent has turned into an inconvenience for many, who complain that it’s political correctness gone mad. But in the same way that a person who isn’t mature enough to discuss contraception does not deserve your time, anyone who isn’t all for open communication and participants being on the same page can get lost too. Some rules are made to be broken, but in this case, just stick to what’s best.