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Issue 17 Out Now

Consent Kills No Vibe!


It is a relief to see that people have started engaging in conversations about consent culture and hold one another accountable. Having the power to choose is critical, but having people respect your choices and not convince you to change them is even more powerful and needed. Staying out of trouble, or avoiding being canceled, should not be the only reason to ask for consent. It is necessary to ask for consent because you trust the person involved to make their own decisions regarding how they share their space, body, and anything else. That means that asking for consent when a person is incapable of giving one is a predator move as it indicates the person “asking” never wanted to receive consent in the first place.

What is consent? Consent is an affirmative, unambiguous, and voluntary agreement to engage in a specific activity — sexual activity during a sexual encounter that can be revoked at any time. It is crucial to recognize and accept that consent is something that the person that gave it is allowed to revoke at any given time. The whole point of consent is to let people choose and respect their choice, so if at any point they lose the ability to do that or someone (and something) takes their power to choose from them, consent leaves the equation. Let me give a simple analogy: imagine you go to a restaurant. You select items on the menu that you want, but at some point, you need to take some of them off the table. You ask that a specific food item be removed from the table, but instead, someone brings more of that food and starts feeding you even though you do not want anymore. That sounds wrong! Right? Unfortunately, that analogy does not even come close to how disgusting it is when someone’s will to choose is taken from them or when someone does not respect their choice.


Who needs consent? Everybody. It doesn’t matter whether you are in a relationship or not. We often exclude platonic relationships when we talk about consent, but we really should not. It is not only when there is a sexual activity that someone should ask for consent. Asking for consent should be incorporated into platonic friendships. Consent does not only pertain to sex — it pertains to touching someone, initiating skinship, talking about something specific to a person, etc. People have different views on different things such as skinship, so even if they are your friend, it is wise to ask them first! Asking for consent does not and should not change the mood. Back to another analogy, asking whether you can get cheese or not does not change the taste of whatever cheese you asked for. Similarly, asking for consent does not change the pleasure associated with any form of intimacy. It means you respect yourself and your partner (or friend, stranger, whoever) enough to eliminate any entitlement one might feel over the other because no one owns definite access to someone else’s body or personal space.

If one finds it embarrassing or awkward to ask for consent, it is an indication that they fear that no could be the answer. Still, if one asks for consent without acknowledging that a no is as valid an answer as a definite yes, then consent is not what they are after. A yes should be open, unambiguous, given with a free will, and given under no external influence like threats, drugs, etc. Anything other than that is a NO! There are no two ways about that — one must prepare to receive a no and BE CONTENT with it. Manipulation of any kind takes consent out of the situation and constitutes assault. If the person one asks for consent from only says yes because they are scared to say no, then that is not a yes. I could go on and on and list many things that make ‘consent” null, but one must make it a personal responsibility to educate themselves on consent culture.


If one is scared that asking for consent kills the vibe, then the said vibe is nonexistent. Maybe not being boring and a sexual predator is a more appropriate vibe. Instead of coercing someone to say yes, find ways to hold proper conversations where all parties can contribute and enjoy! There is no shame in asking for consent. If anything, people find consent sexy and attractive! Regardless of gender identity, everyone should respect themselves and the people they interact with enough to not take them for granted. Consent should not have double standards because, as already established, no one owes anyone access to them in any way! This should be a basic tenet that people remind themselves of daily and educate themselves and others on. Parents and people who raise others should find ways to teach young people the importance of asking for consent.


One more thing before closing this essay, it should be a conscious practice to call out abusers and people who disregard consent when the answer they receive is not one they liked or hoped for. Starting from our family and friend groups. Keeping quiet in conversations involving the mockery, implication, and perpetuation of sexual assault or neglect of consent makes one as complicit as watching either of these happen before them and choosing to ignore it. So, as I like to say, we all must not only do better but be better, so we can collectively mount a society we’ll be pleased to live in!

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