Consent – A Journey When Given, A Trainwreck When Not

14 Oct

reality check aheadHello to you, good people of the internet. Come with me, if you will, down the golden path of consent. Imagine that you wake up to a message from someone inviting you out for coffee. You accept this offer and think that you are going out on a friendly date with an unmarried person later in the day. You meet, greet, and the friendly coffee date is going great. They don’t have 2 heads or bad teeth, there is a lot of flirting occurring and plenty of witty banter back and forth. Suddenly your date turns to you and says “OK, before this goes on I have to tell you that I am married and my partner wants me to bring home another person.” O_o

The friendly coffee date with an unmarried person suddenly turns into an awkward, somewhat shocking date with a very married person who has clear ulterior motives. (Don’t get me wrong, there is nothing negative about adding another party to your established relationship – as along as every member of that party is aware and consenting.) In this situation, you did not consent to going on a date with a married person nor did you give consent to the couple’s possible attempt to include you into their fantasies/wants.

Websters Dictionary describes consent as the following:

verb
:to agree to do or allow something :to give permission for something to happen or be done

Consent is necessary for everyone, even outside of the stereotypical physical or sexual understanding that many people have regarding what consent is. It is necessary to obtain or give when engaging with others in many facets of life including friendly interactions, friends, coworkers, dates, and relationships. Your friend simply does not barge into your home without knocking, they obtain consent from you before entering your space. Consent was completely disregarded by the person asking you out on a date in the above scenario because they did not keep you informed of their situation, nor did they offer you the opportunity to accept or decline. They imposed their wants, their fantasies, and their will upon you recklessly.

The importance of consent is not only personal, there are social and ethical implications involved as well. Any situation occurring with a lack of consent is abusive and disrespectful. All parties need to be well-informed of any potential risks involved in an activity and all parties must have, of sound mind, offered preliminary consent to engage in the aforementioned activity. To keep it simple – no one wants to feel or deserves to feel like their personal boundaries have been violated. No one wants visitors barging into their house without knocking!

Furthermore, no communication is ever perfect; no matter how well we know someone, we can (to be frank) screw it up. We are talking about situations where we are essentially making ourselves raw and vulnerable to harm; trust is absolutely key. And the only way to create and engender that trust is to constantly affirm it. Consent is an affirmation of trust, not of distrust. Consent shows that you recognize the other party’s needs, and want to make sure that your needs are in line with theirs. It is the job of each individual to be honest about their needs. By skipping consent, situations are created where, deliberately or recklessly, you are opening your partner (or date, friend, fellow human being) up to hurt, too.

We understand, dear reader, that consent and communication are ongoing and we are here to affirm that they are essential elements in any relationship. We do not expect you to be a communication aficionado; Fear not, you are not alone. Stay tuned for our follow-up post that addresses communication difficulties, how to better manage those difficulties, and how to gain skills that will allow you to safely obtain consent in any relationship.   

consent is mandatory

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