Tag Archives: Consent

The Problem with Consent

Imagine, if you will, a seven-year-old me going to her 2nd grade classroom to find the room filled with sugar cookies and balloons. It’s one of my classmate’s birthdays and their mom had brought in some store-bought birthday themed cookies to celebrate. I was what adults called a picky eater; I still am actually. I hate those store-bought cookies—the ones that come in those difficult to open plastic containers and have frosting that sticks to the roof of your mouth like cement. My parents never bought these cookies and so the only times I ran into them were at events like these.

Before, whenever a parent would come in with these cookies, I’d be given one, which I’d immediately sneak into the garbage can when no one was looking. I hadn’t yet learned the skill of eating something just to be polite. This year though I didn’t want to do that. I didn’t want to waste the cookie. I told the woman passing out cookies that I didn’t want one, that I didn’t like them.

If you’ve ever been in a situation similar to this one you know how persistent people can be when you tell them that you don’t like a certain food. They’ll cajole, prod, and sometimes even trick you into eating the food. Convinced if you try it just one more time that you’ll love it. This woman bothered and harassed me so much about her gross cookies that I ended up taking one and biting into it, even though the taste made me gag. From then I started lying, telling people when they offered me those cookies that I was allergic to one of the ingredients inside.

On the surface this seems like more of an annoying thing that people do rather than a real societal problem, but it’s actually a larger symptom of the problems with consent in America. In that classroom that woman taught everyone in that room that it doesn’t matter what you want. “No” didn’t mean no. “No” wasn’t the end of the conversation, it was the beginning of a siege. You can see parallels in how people pressure others into drinking at parties or even having sex.

This woman thought she knew better what I wanted inside my body than I did. She wasn’t my mother, my doctor, or me. I’m not trying to demonize her, but to merely show that we have a serious problem with how we teach kids about consent. She taught every child in that room that the word “no” was meaningless and that others can and will bully you into doing things you don’t want to do. We can tell children that “no means no” all we want, but unless we put the weight of our actions behind it, then it’s meaningless. Teaching people about consent starts when we respect people and their own personal wants.

Whether its about cookies or sex, No should mean No.

 

Cover Photo from “Forks in the Road”

Katy Perry Kiss

We often hear about women having to deal with unwanted sexual attention, sexual harassment, and situations were consent was ignored or belittle. There are, unfortunately, many stories like that out in the world and it is never hard to find a recent one. Not to mention the recent “Me Too” movement that has happened in Hollywood and around the nation. But what happens with a women is in the place of the harasser and the man is in the place of the victim?

Katy Perry is a judge on the television show “American Idol” where she coerced a 19-year-old male contestant into kissing her. The contestant said that he had never kissed a girl before and Katy Perry beckon him over and got him to kiss her, despite his protests. Afterwards the contestant said he felt uncomfortable during the whole exchange, and that he had been wanting to save his first kiss.

This is unacceptable. If people want to make real advancements in ending sexual harassment, women have to be held just as accountable as men when they are the perpetrators. Katy Perry harassed this young man, and frankly it is creepy and gross. Many people are blowing this off because “who wouldn’t want to kiss Katy Perry?” Just because she is a celebrity does not give her a free pass to do as she pleases.

Imagine if this was a 33-year old man forcing a 19-year old girl to kiss him. There would be public outrage. The public as a whole would call for this man’s head. But because it is a woman, and a famous one, many do not see a problem there. It is a double standard, and one that should not exist. Men can and do experience sexual harassment and when it is done so publicly, this is the time to stand up for them and do something to support them and state that this type of behavior will not be accepted, regardless of the gender of the victim or perpetrator.

 

Cover Photo from E News