Consent: Why is it Not Getting Through?

Last night I could not shut off my brain.  An exciting idea struck me that I would be doing my part for Online Dating by creating a PSA to talk about getting consent before having sexual conversation or sending nudity to a stranger.  I worked it all out, and fell into a restless sleep, where I edited it throughout the night in my head.  This morning I was fueled with motivation to film it, edit and publish it for the world.  Yes I thought, this would be a positive contribution, this video would make a difference in someones life.

And then, shortly after publishing it and sharing, I sobered up.  Reality struck me, and it struck me hard.  People do not want to listen, or change their behavior.  We are all stuck it this very weird place whereby we know sending an unsolicited dick pic is bad but we don’t do anything about it.  Just today I saw a Tweet of a guy who received a dick pic over facebook and he wasn’t outraged or offended, just rather surprised by it.  And I admit, that the first time I received a dick pic, I felt exactly the same.  It wasn’t a violation the first time, instead it was a curiosity and I remember showing it to my girlfriend and laughing about it over some wine.  But by the second and third time it happened, I got angry and wrote my piece called Dear Random Penis.  And are you ready for this crazy fact?  The guy who was the last straw with sending me dick pics, and inspired the writing of that post, to this day used Dear Random Penis in his searches to keep tabs on my blog.  And sometimes late at night he even comments lewd and harassing messages.  The point was not taken, in fact, it gave him a point of pride that I wrote a piece about him.  Are you starting to see my issue here?

When we receive a nude picture or a sexually driven message on an online dating site, what do we do?  Block?  Ignore?  Start a Twitter account aimed at outing all these uneducated souls?  For my part, I felt great relief when I wrote my post about dick pics.  And all it did was get agreement from people who already knew that, and created an abusive situation for me from the guy who inspired it.  My choice to discuss, and educate fell on deaf ears.

And here I sit, after posting my video about consent and online dating, worried that I have just created the same situation for myself.  That by speaking out and trying to educate people, I will instead be putting myself in harms way.  Or even more depressing, that I will be completely ignored.  That my words will fall yet again onto deaf ears.  And this makes me very sad.

Consent is not difficult to obtain.  Asking permission before you start sexting can even be fun, interesting or at the very least a great way to practice your communication skills.  There are blogs dedicated to teaching people fun and new ways to obtain consent.  But rather than educate ourselves, we prefer the push boundaries method and seek permission after the violation.  This way of thinking needs to end.  We don’t need apps, like Legal Fling (Use caution if you google this as it might send you into blind rage) to obtain permission or consent.  We need to grow the fuck up and start talking to each other.  To communicate and to stop looking for elaborate solutions to a very simple problem.  You want to kiss someone for the first time?  Ask!  You want to sleep with someone?  Ask!  You want to flirt and send sexy messages?  Ask!

I won’t stop trying to fight the good fight.  But today, I am tired.  I am worn out.  And I am saddened to read each new article about some woman who is speaking out for the first time about her experience with harassment.  I’m tired of feeling that #MeToo feeling.  I’m tired of all the memories of abuse, and sexual harassment that are a part of my past.  I’m ready for a world where consent is the expectation rather than a difficult burden.  Please don’t let this plea go unheard…

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