What is consent?
One of the most ignored and least discussed issues when it comes to sex is consent.
A lot of young people grow up and start engaging in sex without really understanding what consent is.
I often assist couples ‘rekindle’ the fire in their relationships, many of whom will have some form of underlying relationship issue that needs to be addressed. One of the unexpected issues is around consent. Some people seem to think that being in a long term relationship means having access to their partners’ body on demand.
I am often met with confusion by women as to whether or not consent can be taken away once it is given the first time. The answer is yes.
Just because you give consent to be touched once does not mean that your consent is indefinite. Your consent can be removed at any point during any interaction and that is your right.
This is probably one of the main reasons why date rape and intimate partner violence thrives and remains under reported. We think because we consented to previous sex acts with the person we do not have a good enough case despite feeling violated.
A common assumption is that because a woman agreed to go on a date she has automatically consented to whatever the partner wants and desires of her and her body during and after the date.
Often we are being coerced into undesirable sexual acts and the violation of our bodies under the illusion of romance. Even in fairytales, prince charming never stops to ask the princess if she wants to have sex with him. We never see consent being acted out in movie sex scenes and most times a woman who refuses sexual advances is often portrayed as a party pooper or playing hard to get.
Consent cannot be looked at in isolation, it forms part of a comprehensive sexual and reproductive rights education. We should all be taught to respect other people’s consent and be aware too, of lack of consent.
Women should expect their space and their bodies to be respected and in turn we should teach children the same. We should empower ourselves and them with the words to articulate when they feel that their bodies or space is violated or for when we just feel uncomfortable. The most important is No.
Written by: Dr Tlaleng Mofokeng @drtlaleng / firstname.lastname@example.org
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