Commentary

My Convictions On Consent

30 percent of students do not ask for consent in a consistent manner. I believe this is a result of students in committed relationships not feeling obligated to ask their partner(s) for consent. Consent is consistent, enthusiastic, and can be rescinded at any point. Knowing one’s partner is obviously preferential when dealing with issues of consent because you know who they are and what they are comfortable with. Andover’s hookup culture, however, complicates this issue slightly.

Random hookups, sans emotional commitment, enable people to easily hookup with others and not feel any sort of obligation. This can incorrectly translate to a lack of need for consent. I would argue that consent should be emphasized in random hookup situations, especially because you do not know the person very well.

Here’s where difficulty arises: do we need to ask for consent each time we do something with our partner(s) if we’ve done it before? I say yes. I believe it is always necessary to ask for consent throughout sexual activity with others. Even if you have done something with a partner before, one cannot assume that they will still be in the mood to perform that activity. Maybe they didn’t enjoy it, maybe they’re tired this time, or maybe they simply are not in the mood.

Additionally, it is crucial to be aware of any pressure you could be putting on your partner(s). Saying things like “Are you sure?” repeatedly, after you partner(s) has already said “No,” can make people extremely uncomfortable. If someone seems unsure or hesitant, you should definitely not pressure them into performing an activity they have already said, “No” to. Asking once is okay, whereas consistently harassing is not.

Communication solves all of these issues. Many people are afraid of communication because it can be awkward or too confrontational and, honestly, it might be. No matter what though, you need to talk to your partner(s). It’s completely unavoidable and necessary. Knowing your partner(s), speaking to them about their preferences, and voicing your own concerns will make asking for consent exponentially easier. Once you get over the awkwardness, which is supposed to happen as a natural part of teenhood, it’s so simple and sexy to ask for consent. A lot of people hold onto this image of consent as being very formal and interruptive. It’s not! Instead, you can say something as simple as “Is this okay?” It’s also important to be aware of your partner(s) and their expressions. Any hint of discomfort is crucial to pick up on so that you can talk about doing something differently.

Everyone deserves to be safe, including you, and both parties should be asking for consent. In contrast to what most people think, consent actually smoothes over the awkwardness of hookup culture, so please just ask.

May 19, 2017