We Need to Talk About Consent

sexual consent
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Sexual consent has become one of the most important conversations worldwide. Madhura Sansare delves into the depths of this much-talked-about philosophy and reminds you that yes means yes, and no means no.

What is Consent?

sexual consent
Image Credits: Blouin Artinfo

It is not as tricky as it sounds. Consent is given only when both partners have explicitly agreed to a physical act, together. If one partner has said no or hasn’t said anything, or either of you hasn’t bothered to ask the other explicitly, in simple terms, you do not have their consent.

The idea of consent is often misunderstood in our society. Not just our society in India, but human society as a whole. It is often said that wearing sexy clothing is equal to ‘asking for it’, that silence during the act is equal to consent, that if there are alcohol or drugs involved, it is clear that neither party is going to deny it, hence they have each other’s consent.

Let us be clear. Unless you have looked a prospective partner in the eye and asked them, explicitly, if they want to engage in a physical act, and they have said yes, you do not have their consent.

Why is Consent important?

People have a right to their own bodies. Every person, whether man or woman, has a right to decide what happens to their bodies, what they do with it, and who they choose to have as a partner. It is always said that trust and respect are the founding stones of a healthy and happy relationship. It is vital to understand that this applies to the physical part of a relationship as well, and you can’t expect to have trust and respect in other parts of your relationship without having it here. Even if the two concerned partners are not in a monogamous relationship, you owe it to your prospective partner to be respectful of their wishes and decisions. Consent isn’t a privilege; it is a basic human right.

Why is it important to educate the youth about the same?

There are a lot of misconceptions about consent prevalent among the youth today. Maybe it is so because this topic is considered taboo because there isn’t enough awareness about the topic, maybe it is even because of the gender roles prevalent in society, but it is commonly found that the youth tends to rely a lot more on misinterpreted physical cues than on direct verbal ones.

Things are changing in our society now, though. Specified gender roles are slowly diminishing. Sexuality is being brought out from that dark, damp cave that it was always hidden in, and being celebrated. These changes are slow and gradual, but they are definitely happening. In the wake of these changes, we cannot stress enough on how important it is for the youth to completely understand the idea of sexual consent.

For example, there is a very common misconception that heterosexual men specifically, don’t need to be taken consent from. The societal gender norm that a man will never deny the chance of having sex is the culprit for this misconception.

Consent is not categorised into genders, sexual preferences, race, or any of the other categories that we as humans have divided ourselves into. Consent is uniform, and it applies to everyone. Basically, yes, if you are a heterosexual woman who wants to engage in a physical act with a man, it is just as important that you get his consent as it is for him to get yours.

Sexual consent may have become a very confusing topic of late, with almost everybody talking about it over the net and giving their opinions, but the essence of the entire worldwide conversation can be stripped down to one simple phrase; Just ask them. There is no alternative to consent, and honestly, there needn’t be one. Talking about what you want to do is humane, legal and well, sexy. So go on, just ask.


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