I know what you are going to think: we all know what consent is. On the 25th of November, we celebrated the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women. I couldn't help but think about my own experience with consent. And whilst I don't remember ever being taught about it, everyone around me seems to know what consent is. At this time and age, we are all well-informed about consent, and I strongly believe, the Internet is to blame. Don’t misunderstand me, I love the Internet, but I believe that in terms of consent, instead of educating, it has enabled us to learn what is acceptable and accepted by us.
Does that mean they are going to act accordingly? Unfortunately, not. According to WHO, 1 in 3 women experience physical/sexual violence globally, with the highest prevalence in the Middle-East. That got me thinking about all my friends, guys I went out with, and men around me who claimed to “know” what consent is, despite the staggering statistics. It made me realise that the discrepancy between what they say, and how they act is more significant than I thought, and that alarmed me.
Interestingly, many men’s arguments seemed to be centred around one reoccurring issue, rape. But that is an obvious example, everyone knows that’s wrong, right? Unfortunately, consent is much more than that. What about “day-to-day life”?
· What about that boyfriend who touches you even if you say you don’t feel like it?
· What about that woman who does it because she is “convinced” by her partner?
· What about that man you are dating who claims to know about consent, but then touches you, even if it does not result in having sex when you are both drunk? Without a sorry, s/he then “forgets” about it the next day.
· What about that acquaintance who makes out with you when you are drunk?
· What about that “feminist” friend who, on confessing a sexual assault accident, says: “I can’t believe it happened, he doesn’t seem that kind of man.”?
· “I can tell when someone wants to have sex, no need to ask.”
I can go on and on, but these are real-life examples from my own experience and people I know. And sadly, none of these involved consents, yet they happened under our noses. Thinking about consent in these terms left so few that I can count them on my fingers…and that’s unacceptable.
Consent is clearly still an issue, and if we need a day to protect women from violence, it means that NO is still not enough. This goes above and beyond sexual-consent.
· NO to toxic relationships
· NO to relationships where we always have to say sorry
· NO to relationships where your feelings are not acknowledged and respected
· NO to always feeling like you are doing more
· NO to chasing if you are not the person’s priority
We need better than this. We deserve better!
Consent explained like a cup of tea: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pZwvrxVavnQ
UN DATA: http://www.who.int/reproductivehealth/publications/violence/9789241564625/en/