I had the pure luck, as an male adult educated in a different era (1970s and 80s) to end up aware of and sensitive to others feelings, stresses, conflicts and things people couldn’t or wouldn’t easy talk about, and to care for good quality open dialog. That was simple pure fortune (‘there but for the grace of god go I’), and like many traits, requires life experience, peers, educators or caregivers to open ones eyes to its crucial importance.
The importance of this measure, or campaign, should be evident to every thinking human being. Others will have spoken eloquently, added personal anecdote, or cited research and studies, and I add my support of those as well.
I would like to add a view on one area, easily overlooked and even somewhat daunting to figure how to measure, convey, or educate. Nonetheless I feel it is one that crucially underpins this and perhaps other topics to pass on to children as they grow, and needed in our hopefully healthier society of the future.
When we teach consent, it will be tempting (and surely come under well-meaning pressure) to reduce it to a near-checklist. Asking ‘what must this cover?’, or rote answers, can lead that way. Consent is one part of a bigger theme: considering others feelings. While consent impacts sex and intimate space, the awareness that others feelings may need explicit checking, that others may not always feel able to speak or feel safe to do so (and what might be done if aware of the possibility), other people may see the same thing radically differently than we do, use words or body language radically different than we do, have hidden fears that lead them to act outwardly in ways hat are not their inward reality… These apply to consent. They drive consent. They guide us when a checkbox of ‘did they consent’ may not be the right answer. They inform usÂ to look for real, that double checking may be relevant, that surprises may lurk, that sometimes even consent may not be assuring enough and to decide ‘no’ out of caution regardless.
When you teach consent, please add my hope, that we teach it as one outcrop of a far more fundamental perspective that informs consent, empathy, protects against well intentioned disaster, and comprehends difference. Please, please, *please*, teach these things, when consent is taught.