Whenever I tell people that I’m a sexual misconduct consultant and sexologist the thing they most often say is, “Oh have you seen the “Tea and Consent” video? It’s so good.” Yes, I have seen it. In fact, I have used it myself - especially when talking to students with limited English language acquisition - as the illustrations help overcome some of those language barriers. But what I don’t get to say enough is that consent isn’t actually as simple as tea. I wish it were. It would make my job and life super easy and breezy, but this is just not the case.
Read: Why Consent Is More Complicated Than a Cup of Tea
As a community, we need to explore the complexities of culture, consent and where we want to go with this paradigm. In order to achieve a culture of consent, we must first unpack the cultures of rape that we ALL grew up with.
When we talk about sex as teens, we say things like “bumping uglies,” “tapping it,” “smashing,” and “tearing it up,” all of which invoke a sense that sex is dirty, inherently rough, and that good sex should always involve some sort of aggression and dominance. While, as the kink community would say, none of those things is inherently wrong or bad, they can be when taken out of context or when touted as the only way to be sexual.
Our movies, music and oral histories about sex tell us that consent is a second thought at best and a literal joke at worst. We often want to say that “no means no” should cover effective sexual assault prevention, but we fail to address the topic of token compliance (when a person is pressured to say yes) and token resistance (when a no is expected, so a person feels afraid to say yes). We avoid these intricacies because, well, they are tough. They don’t fit into a cute, catchy video or tagline, and they require a ton more effort, transparency and honesty. But here’s the good news: by having these hard and in-depth conversations we start healing the festering wound that is abuse and assault, instead of placing another band-aid on this hemorrhaging problem. So, let's get started.