Granted, I haven’t been a teenager for a decade. Or maybe two.
But when I was a teenager, these slogans…
Don’t Drink and Drive Just Say No Buckle Up It’s the Law
…were not in the public consciousness. They didn’t exist.
Not all slogans work to educate; but often they do.
Wearing a seatbelt went from a cumbersome task to something you wouldn’t consider not doing.
And while my generation, and the generation before me, thought nothing of drinking and driving, from what I can tell, young people today simply don’t.
And the latest buzzword is consent.
According to a New York Times article, Sex, With a Syllabus, freshman at Trinity College are required to attend lectures that are part of a sexual assault curriculum.
Sex education activist Jonathan Kalin is bringing awareness to the issue. And a number of campuses have programs called, Consent is Sexy.
“When it comes to young people today, and college, and hooking up, and drinking, and rape culture, and consent there is enough confusion that the services of Mr. Kalin are in high demand.”
The New York Times article uses the analogy of convincing a friend to go on a roller coaster ride. What if the friend doesn’t want to go, what are you going to do to convince?
And so the question is, if you go on the ride, are you giving consent?
I want to say: Yes.
While I’m sure this is not the intent, consent curriculum seems to revolve mostly around men asking for consent, not women.
Our cultural beliefs play a part in our decision-making. Sometimes, even today, women are torn, and find themselves in precarious situations. They might be persuaded into activity because they don’t want to seem harsh, withholding. Or bitchy.
Drinking alcohol does not absolve us from responsibility. And men, even if persistent, in my opinion, are not responsible.
In Justin Bieber’s new song, What Do You Mean? the lyrics point to a woman’s ambiguousness. Bieber sings,
“What do you mean? When you nod your head yes, but you want to say no. What do you mean?”
Women need to be clear. They need to exert their own power, use their voices and practice agency in stating what they want, or don’t want; and then, they need to exhibit behaviors that match.
People of my generation might think consent education is superfluous because body language and participation should be good indicators of interest.
But then again, we thought we didn’t need seat belts.