In a conversation with a college friend of mine, the question of consent came up
Not in our conversation but in my mind. He wants to visit the beach town I am currently studying in. Exciting, yes! Since I am the only one he can visit here, the accommodations will be taken care by him (like he said); his request is that I live with him for the short period he is visiting. Pretty exciting. So preparations are to be made and he brings up the whole living together the scene and hopeful about the “blast” we are gonna have. His idea of a blast, I learnt later was sitting in the hotel room, getting high/drunk with me and presumably making out with me. I laugh at the joke. Turns out he is being serious.
“What if I kiss you?” to which I reply “Then I would push you away”.
“What if I do it again?”
“Then I would ask you to stop and remind you that I don’t want to kiss you.”
“Maybe if you are drunk, you will want to.”
“I have been drunk before. So I don’t think I will want to even then.”
A moment of silence is followed by:
“Don’t worry. I won’t do anything without asking you.”
“Don’t worry, it will still be a no.”
“I will just keep trying”.
So “just keep trying” is all about pestering me till he gets the consent or “keep trying” till I actually feel like kissing him, I never paused to ask.
In the wake of the Harvey Weinstein sexual assault accusations, victims have come forward. With #MeToo and #TimesUp raging the social media, it is proven how many people have been victimised by the ravenous clutches of assault.
Dating has been made so easy with all the apps dedicated to find people around you. Like instant noodles, finding dates takes less than 3 minutes. Dates made easy, the logic of consent is totally forgotten. Perhaps that’s the reason my friend assumed since I will be spending the nights together, we are going to be spending the nights together.
The correlation between dating and consent beg
ins way before you step inside the bedroom
A no means no – it is not an attempt for people to want you to keep trying till you change your mind. There was a recent article in Babe about comedian Aziz Ansari and his date who used “verbal and non-verbal cues” throughout the date but Ansari kept pegging her on. The date ended with intercourse but the date did not fully consent to it but did not clearly say anything out loud either. Opposing forces might debate on the validity of the date’s refusal to ask Ansari to stop, other forces might pin the accusations entirely on Ansari.
The dating game consists of blurry areas
What is consent in dating? How do we regularly give it or ask for it? Take the case of Tinder. You swipe right, begin a conversation and probably like the person. How often are we bombarded with unsolicited “dick photos”? Recently, I received a photo of a man’s junk over Instagram; the only problem is that I did not ask for it. It just popped up and I had to live through it. This action can be likened to a flasher flashing to a passer-by. Does swiping right give them the authority to behave in a lewd manner? Or is this considered adequate behaviour since no one was harmed in person? But imagine going on a date with this Flasher from Tinder? If he can send unsolicited nudes over virtual media, what are the chances he does not care much about consent in the real world itself?
The grey area in dating is justified well by Justin Meyers, a writer for GQ Magazine. He writes “We tell ourselves it’s a ‘grey area’, the rules around it so murky and undefined that all we can do is go for it and hope nobody gets sued”.
The signals for consent, as seen in the Aziz Ansari case, is not quite vibrant. The woman did not scream, push away but has somebody language showing her not-so-wholeheartedness to the post-date sex. The man, however, misreads the signals completely and hence the whole issue has been brought to the forefront. Justin Meyers’ words can be used again to completely analyse the situation. “He’s taught that this is the way he’s supposed to be, that we’re supposed to be virile. But, honestly, I can’t say that I’ve misread a signal for longer than a millisecond. You can tell yourself you’ve misread it, but really you just don’t want to believe the signal.”
So, my friend, about whom I have talked about at the beginning, who believes my repetitive ‘No’ to making out with him is quite equivalent to him trying harder for an enthusiastic ‘Yes’ is what makes the rest of us wonder if a bloody No can ever just be a NO.
Can the idea of consent be taught? And how?
All the assumptions about consent are rested on the fact that no one can really been taught about it. When children are playing in the park and one kid throws down a girl to kiss her on the cheek. Even when the girl is trying to push the boy away parents go “Aww”. This boy is being encouraged by elders and is growing up to think that this behaviour is okay. Asking for consent is so outdated that it is not even thought of as a matter of importance or a part of education to be imparted to people from a very young age. So these people grow up thinking if there isn’t any definitive No, it is assumed consent is given, even if they are shrinking away, cowering in fear or are not brave enough to speak up.
With the ease of dating in this millennium, campaigns like #MeToo are becoming an everyday affair. When “Can I kiss you?” before kissing someone becomes unromantic, movements like this never cease. And since men happen to be men, it is up to the women to act up whenever necessary and yell a big NO to teach the world a lesson or two about consent.