I was reading a blog by Accidental Devotional, titled The Day I Taught Not to Rape, and it made me realize young people truly do not know the definition of consent. Looking at my family and friends interact with their loved ones, it appears they do not know the definition of consent either.
I recall tickling my little brother to the point where he said “stop!”, and the second he said it I stopped tickling him. He became confused and asked, “why did you stop?” I explained why: I stopped because you said to stop. He didn’t understand.
I often watch my little brothers grapple with each other, with the youngest screaming, “No, stop it!” Yet, even after the little brother’s pleas to stop being wrestled with the older brother continues. Neither of them knows what “stop” means, and I fear this will affect them in their romantic relationships later on. Why happens when their girlfriends say “no, stop”, and they continue anyways? That’s how my rape happened, and I want them to know what consent truly means.
We usually relate consent to sex, but consent is not always in a sexual context. It can be consent to be tickled, consent to going out on a date, consent to play a game. Most of these types of consent are implied, but for me, I always ask myself “do I consent to this? Is this really what I want to do?”
Here is the dictionary definition of consent:
1. to permit, approve, or comply; agree, as to an expressed wish or a proposed action (often fol. by to or an infinitive).
2. Archaic. to agree in sentiment or opinion.
3. permission, approval, or agreement; compliance: He gave his consent to the marriage.
4. agreement in sentiment, opinion, or a course of action: by common consent.
5. Archaic. accord; harmony.
Looking at this definition, I’ve realized I have done things, or been forced to do things, which I did not consent to. The most important examples I have of not consenting are my experiences with molestation and rape.
As an adult we learn children do not have the right or ability to consent. Children, like my brothers, have the ability to consent and also deserve the right to consent. However, when it comes to consent of a sexual nature children do not yet have the understanding to make proper and educated judgments; so we assume they cannot consent sexually.
As I child I felt I had the right to say no and I tried to say no as a child and an adult. Sometimes it worked, sometimes it didn’t. The problem is: did I ever have the right to say no as a child?
Consent means the right to say yes, and the right to say no. If children do not have the right to consent, then they do not have the right to say no.
As a child we cannot say yes to sex, we cannot consent. As a child we also cannot say no to sex either. I want to sincerely believe I was in control when I said no as a child, but I wasn’t. I didn’t even have the right to say no. Does that seem intuitively wrong to you? Because it seems wrong to me.
I’ve just now realized that the rape and molestation is partly the fault of those who were uneducated to know what consent means, and the fault to those who did not educate.
I call for action. Educate your children on what the definition of consent means. Let them know what their rights are, let me know what sex means, what it is, and what it can do to a person if they do not consent.
When I didn’t consent and I was raped- it destroyed me for almost two years. I don’t want rape to happen to anyone else. Please, tell them what no means, and tell them what happens when no is not respected.