Consent in our Daily Lives
After publishing my latest piece on consent via Medium, a horrible thought struck me. Are we reaching a saturation point, whereby we are overusing the word consent? Are we perhaps beating a dead horse and losing the momentum? The sex positive community knows what it means, and employs it regularly, whereas the primarily monogamous part of our society is ignoring the importance of what this actually means. When I talk about consent with people in person, I get the impression that people just don’t care about the word or it’s implications. It feels like it is reserved for situations such as rape, sexual harassment, etc. Not something that the average person really needs to think about.
We read in the news all about the extreme situations whereby a coach used their position of power to sexually abuse their athletes, or the serial rapist who drugged their victims then took advantage of them. We as a society see these actions as morally and criminally wrong, and leave it at that. We don’t think about, or want to think about everything that lead up to these extreme situations. We don’t want to acknowledge that in our day to day lives there are countless moments where we just go with the flow. We do not say no, or even yes with authenticity.
How many times in the past 24 hours have you been tasked with something that you did not want to do? How many times in the last month were you asked to do something that you morally felt uncomfortable with? Did it even cross your mind to say something? Or, did you just go with the flow, and choose not to ruffle feathers. To trust your superior, with blind faith? I for one, do it all the time, or at least I know I used to. I relied on a stable income, so I chose to not speak up when I felt uncomfortable with an assigned task. I chose to just do my job, and that would be the end of it.
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There is an added element to this, that I would be amyss not bringing up. I was raised, as female, and to always be the peacemaker. To try and find common ground, compromise, and above all, do not stand out or be bitchy. I know, I have written about this before, but, it is necessary to repeat. If you are raised, as I was, to be calm, level headed, always smiling person that people can count on, you are not in the same breath taught to assert yourself. You are not taught how to say yes or no. You are not raised to understand that your voice will be taken seriously, respected, or to have any impact whatsoever. Your role is to keep things even and balanced. But speaking up, and saying you are not OK with a situation is just, wrong. This in short is not your place.
Obviously, this mentality, is part of the reason so many of us struggle with consent. For my male counterparts, they were not raised to hear the word no. And I was not raised to say the word no. So therefore, giving this whole consent topic anything more than a passing glance would be a waste of time. This is a them problem. This is something that outliers need to deal with. No rational or normal person would take advantage of a situation or a person beneath them. Well, if you haven’t figured it out already, that is a complete farce. We all, are faced with choices, on a daily basis, and especially us, easy going Canadians, will not speak our minds. We do not utilize the yes or no in our verbiage unless it is an extreme situation. We choose not to offend within our families, or stand up for what’s right in our careers.
Saying yes or no is still taboo, and this needs to change. My voice matters, and your voice matters. My ability to assert myself is a fundamental part of who I am. Your ability to have autonomy over your body and actions are what make you… you! We must start talking about consent, and how we can start using these words with authenticity, and how we can teach it to the next generation.
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