“You are not a victim. No matter what you have been through, you’re still here. You may have been challenged, hurt, betrayed, beaten, and discouraged, but nothing has defeated you. You are still here! You have been delayed but not denied. You are not a victim, you are a victor. You have a history of victory.”
~ Steve Maraboli
Sexual abuse, rape, harassment – words we hear almost every day.
But, what about consent? Why is it that people are so reluctant on talking about the one thing that should actually matter?
So let’s stop avoiding the subject, is time to address it!
For too long as a society, people have blamed victims – usually women – for letting themselves be raped.
“She shouldn’t have been so drunk”, “she should have worn those clothes”, “she should be out so late”. But the concern is much less if a guy is doing any of those things.
On the other hand, we constantly see rapists and assassins – usually men – being forgiven. Apparently, they’re acting on some kind of uncontrollable instinct, from which they must be protected.
The issue remains even less understood when the situation is between two people who know each other. And that is something that we as human beings need to change.
It may seem simple to understand what “consent” means, but still, lots of metaphors are needed to actually clarify it.
This is a good one. You wouldn’t force or pressure someone into having a cup of tea, and you can tell when someone wants a cup of tea or not.
If someone says they want a cup of tea one minute, they can change their mind the next and should not be pressured to drink the tea. If this sounds simple, then so is the issue to consent to sex.
Consent is beautiful, it is enthusiasm, it is a free choice, it is mutual.
It is NOT assumed, NOT a right of marriage, NOT said in the clothes you wear.
This is what consent looks like:
Communication is key!
It’s easy to get caught up in the moment, but it’s just as easy to make sure that both partners are consenting before or as they move forward.
You can ask your partner, “Is this okay?” or “Do you want to slow down?”, among other things, to make sure they are really comfortable with going with it. It’s important to communicate every step of the way.
Don’t assume that it is okay to move forward without permission.
There’s only one way to know for sure if someone has given their consent: if they tell you. It is important to be explicit about consent, by verbally saying “yes,” or using other affirmative statements.
It is extremely important that, if your partner communicates that they do not want to continue, you respect that! For sure you would like to be respected if it was the other way around, right?
Consent Isn’t Only Given by a Woman
Allow me to burst a few bubbles: consent isn’t something that’s gender-specific.
If you think women are exempt from being sexual predators, think again. And if you think men are excluded from being victims of sexual abuse, you’re delusional.
This is what consent does not look like:
Saying yes while you really want to say no
Saying “no” t can be awkward, uncomfortable, anxiety-provoking. But you are your own first line of defence. If you are unsure about it, say no. Nobody can force you to do something when you are not on board with it.
Assuming that a specific gesture means that it’s a “yes”
Dressing sexy or flirting is exactly that, and nothing more. Sometimes people just want to feel pretty, is their right.
Just because someone flirts with you, it does not mean that they are consenting to anything.
The attire of someone does not indicate whether or not they are giving you their consent. Consent only comes in the form of one word and that word is “yes.”
Consent is not implied
Regardless of whether or not you are in a relationship, or whether or not both of you have consented to the activity before, consent is not implied. The bottom line is, if the answer isn’t “yes,” it’s “no.”
It is also important to know that consent is necessary every time, not just one time.
If Consent Is Given For One Sexual Act, It Doesn’t Mean It Covers All Sexual Acts
Just because someone consents to one thing, it doesn’t mean they’re consenting to anything and everything else.
If you’re with your partner and have consented to everything you were doing up until a certain point, but he/she decides to try something else, he/she needs to have your consent first. You can only be sure if the other person consented to a thing by asking them about it.
You as an individual have the right to your words, mind and body.
If you are uncomfortable in a sexual situation or any situation, as a matter of fact, it is important to be explicit about this. Just as it is important to read someone’s body language and listen to what they are saying.
It’s high time that we as human beings know what is it that we can do to make this world a safer place. Not just for women but for men as well.
People should be able to understand when they might be a victim of a crime or a suspect of a crime. And they should feel comfortable and safe to do something about it. We should all know where we stand.
Slowly we are taking steps to reduce the inequalities that persist in the society. Let’s just be aware of the importance of having consent, every step of the way.
Again: if you don’t have consent, you can’t do it.
We would love to know more about your side of the story. Tweet us using the #WhatsYourIssue.
We at AIESEC have many projects for SDG number 5 (gender equality) around the world, for our Global Volunteer program. If you’re interested and feel that you can contribute, check more about the program here.
If you liked this blog you may also like: Let’s talk about it. Period.
Studying bachelor’s in biotechnology, Aayushi is a really passionate person, who loves to read and travel. She believes people, places, and stories have the power to change anyone and help them understand the purpose of life.