Since 1923 • For a greater Loyola

The Maroon

Since 1923 • For a greater Loyola

The Maroon

Since 1923 • For a greater Loyola

The Maroon

OPINION: Consent is not just sexy

Grace Knight

What do you think of when you hear the word “consent?”

You probably think of sex, right?

Well, the first definition you can find on Google is “permission for something to happen or agreement to do something.” That is a very general explanation, though.

If you’ve ever taken a sex education class, your definition might be a bit different. It would probably be something more along the lines of “permission that is freely given, reversible, informed, enthusiastic, and specific.” While this definition is good for high school students who haven’t necessarily been introduced to the topic of consent yet, I think that older adults should have a more nuanced understanding of the matter.

For example, if a younger couple decides to have sex for the first time, the consent between the two should be enthusiastic, otherwise, miscommunications or a violation of each others’ boundaries might occur.

However, imagine an older couple that has been married for ten years. While the span of time that they have been together doesn’t impact the need for consent between the two, it might change the nature of that consent. After 10 years of marriage, sex might become a more regular or mundane activity between the two. Hence, both might not be ecstatic at the mention of sex, but they both still consent to it. This is not necessarily a bad thing.

The novelty of sex is bound to wear off after a certain amount of time in a relationship, and this can lead to a lack of enthusiasm to have sex. But this doesn’t make the sex any less consensual; it just means that the couple might need to have a talk about what they can do to make things more interesting.

But what about the phrase “consent is sexy?”

Most people have probably heard it by now and assumed it to be true. While the sentiment behind the phrase is to destigmatize consent as awkward and work against sexual violence, it isn’t the powerful slogan it appears to be.

Consent relates to many situations, not just sex, and this implication that consent is inherently sexual in nature hurts many people’s efforts to teach consent in schools, especially to younger children.

It is essential for people to know about consent at all ages so that they can exercise their right to have control over their own bodies and confidently assert their boundaries to others.

For children, this may be something as simple as letting them know how to tell another child or adult that they don’t want to be touched at that moment. Of course, the complexities of consent can be added to their understanding of the word as they age.
Consent in a non-sexual context also applies to adults as well. Signing a waiver is a form of consent. Consent could also mean telling your boss that you can’t work on the weekends when you already established this fact with him and he is pushing you to work despite this fact.

However, the fact is that consent, as a concept, is most crucial when it comes to sex. The phrase “consent is sexy” implies that there is sex without consent. After all, not all sex is sexy.

But the fact is, there is no such thing as sex without consent. If there is no consent, it is not sex but rape. Sex can take place without the added aspects of what makes it sexy but sex cannot happen without consent.

Consent isn’t an enhancement for sex; it is mandatory for sex to take place. And the fact is that not all initiations of consent are going to be sexy.

Sometimes asking for consent can be scary or uncomfortable, and even though many would argue that it shouldn’t be, this doesn’t change the fact that, for some people, it can be. It’s completely possible that you will not find every aspect of sex to be sexy.

Sex should be fun, but it’s unrealistic to expect it to be perfect every time. Bad or unsatisfying sex happens, even between couples. Figuring out what your partner (or partners) like or don’t like is a process that takes time, and, even then, their tastes are bound to change eventually.

It isn’t a formula to figure out but rather an ongoing conversation to be had.

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