By Kajaanie Kunanayagam
I’m sure you’ve heard of that one before. I got sick of hearing it time and time again. When I first learnt about consent, it seemed so simple to me. The definition is concrete : Yes means yes and no means no. Over the years, socialising with a range of people from different backgrounds, I’ve realised that the majority of people think consent is fluid, that a person being conflicting is a yes. I’m here to remind you again that during any sexual act, being indecisive is still a no. If it’s not a firm yes or an enthusiastic response then it’s a no. Being manipulated into consent is not consent. If you haven’t heard already: no means no.
It frustrates me that consent is seen as boring or vanilla. Respecting boundaries is a healthy thing to do, communication is key so I don’t understand why we are constantly questioning the existence of healthy, loving relationships.
A large contributing factor to this confusion around consent is society. We grow up in a patriarchal society that not only objectifies women constantly but also normalises toxic relationships. You see it on TV, on magazine covers, in the sexualisation of women doing everyday things (eating, sleeping, the media will literally sexualise ANYTHING). Continuous exposure of women as sex objects damages our everyday relationships. It unconsciously teaches men and women to not take women seriously, that our voice, our opinion and that our consent does not matter. We should be normalising an open dialogue rather than idealising lovers pursuing us relentlessly. Media loves to romanticise this obession of love, that being dismissive of a person’s feelings in return conveys passion. This is not normal, and this is why consent has to be a wider conversation in society.
Girls, I’m here to remind you that your consent matters, that your relationships shouldn’t be the toxic versions you see on TV or films, and that your opinion always matters.