Consent. You’d think it’d be a vital component of all sexual activity. Unfortunately there are many instances which show over and over again that consent is often the last thing to determine whether rape or sexual assault has taken place.
When we hear court cases where women are told that being inebriated or wearing skimpy clothing is “yes” enough for sexual activity to take place is one of the biggest failures of modern humanity.
In the US there are now only two states which have specific definitions of consent, New York and California, so that victims now actually have a legislative reason to be able to argue against perpetrators who claim consent was given via body language, a lack of a “no” etc.
While specific legislation is important, and needs to be implemented in every state and every country, it is going to take a much more concerted cultural effort to help society (and most importantly the younger generations) understand that consent is not a grey area.
To illustrate the point of how easy it is to understand the concept of consent, Everyday Feminism contributor and illustrator Alli Kirkham created a series of cartoon strips all featuring a variety of situations involving consent. She posted the images on her Tumblr, which regularly features her artistry tackling issues such as race, intersectionality, harassment and body image to name a few. This particular cartoon was quite popular with her followers she was asked to create a version minus the swearing so parents can use it as a resource to teach kids about consent. YES! This is the type of culture we need to foster – one that is dedicated to breaking cycles of misinformation and discrimination about an issue that should be clear cut.
In a post titled “What if we treated all consent like we treated sexual consent?” Alli uses everyday situations like borrowing a friend’s car, a wife making her husband breakfast (to illustrate the point about rape within marriage which in some countries is sadly still not considered rape) and playing music which when you read them, seem to make the issue of consent a no-brainer.
In order to change the victim-blaming and women-shaming that too often happens when it comes to rape and sexual assault (just watch the ground-breaking documentary ‘The Hunting Ground’ about rape on US college campuses if you don’t believe us) it has to start with an individual mindset shift. Let’s hope we start treating sexual consent like we treat everyday consent instead.
Take a look at the images: