Dictionary.com says that consent is: to commit, approve, or agree. So my question is, why is this such a hard concept for some people to grasp, and why are we not teaching this to young people?
Within her chapter Beyond Yes or No Rachel Bussel discusses how youth need to know the importance of consent, not just in the beginning, but all through sexual activities. She gives the example of a Yes, No, Maybe Chart to go through with a sexual partner as a way of recognizing what you or your partner may potentially find erotic. Bussel goes on to discuss enthusiastic consent which states “unless you get an affirmative yes from a sexual partner, you don’t know what they really want” (Yes Means Yes, 2008, p. 46).
The reason that consent is so important is because both partners need to feel comfortable voicing what they are/are not comfortable with. By doing this we may begin to eradicate the idea of the sexual double standard, in which, men are allowed to have all the sex and women are not. A perfect world would be on where everyone was free to do what they wanted with their bodies without scrutiny, particularly women.
In the chapter Hooking-Up with Healthy Sexuality Brad Perry continues the discussion on consent. He describes his first sexual encounter, which did not go well. He was denied by a young girl who he tried to “hook-up” with. Instead of getting angry and blaming the girl, he took his actions and really thought about what he did: was it right to try and get her drunk first? Later in his life he found out that one of his close female friends was raped by her boyfriend and he again looks back at his choice to comply with Janice’s refusal to perform sexual activities with him and questions himself on the idea of: what if he ignored her request?
Perry explains that as a young boy he thought that the only way to “get some” was to have the girl be under the influence. I’m sure he is not the first male to believe this notion and he won’t be the last. This directly links to Perry’s idea that school systems can’t teach young people about sexual health promotion and sexual violence prevention separately, they must be intertwined. Healthy sexuality and knowledge about sexual violence go hand-in-hand. Which means, government funding cannot continue to pump funds into abstinence-only programs because they are proven unsuccessful, and this needs to be recognized.
In closing, I believe in the words said by both Bussel and Perry. We need to create sexual education programs in which students learn to become knowledgeable about their bodies, and potential sexual violence. To continue to build stronger programs we must take into account other important factors in young people lives, such as: sexuality, gender, race, and class, among others. By beginning to recognize these multiple aspects society may begin to see break downs in violence, stereotypes, and discrimination.