To the Editor:
I would like to thank the Stowe House girls for setting an inspiring example about what consent really means. The “Yes Means Yes” policy, adopted by Stowe after legislation passed in California, is a pithy and effective way to express the idea of explicit verbal consent. There is another aspect to this concept of consent that is too often overlooked, however, especially in regard to sexual and emotional relationships. Every answer is a response to a question, and before one can say “yes” or “no” to hooking up (I use the term ‘hookup’ here as a blanket phrase for all forms of sexual intimacy), the other person has to ask explicitly, “Do you want to [fill in blank here]?” This idea isn’t new to our campus or to this discussion, but the social dynamic around asking for consent ought to be explored more.
There appears to be a stigma against casually and explicitly asking someone to hookup. This phenomenon is certainly not unique to our culture, but it is by no means universal. If we were all forthright and honest about our intentions and thoughts—I refer to honesty in the most fundamental sense of the word—this campus would be more enjoyable to live on. We are a community of independent, thoughtful individuals, and we can easily speak openly about a myriad of topics inside and outside the classroom. Intimacy should not and cannot be excluded—covering our doubts and fears in vague suggestions only leads to more doubt and confusion.
Moreover, as the “Yes Means Yes” policy exemplifies, honesty in relationships is essential for our wellbeing: large amount of sexual assault cases stem from unclear communication between the parties involved, and I am willing to bet that if we all make a deliberate and mindful attempt to convey to one another our wishes and expectations, the number of sexual assault cases would decrease significantly.
So to those reading this, I would like to pose a challenge. If you like someone, tell him or her. If you would like to be with someone intimately, say so—explicitly. Break down these awkward, uncomfortable walls that impede normal communication and hold yourselves to higher standards of what it means to be open and honest about your thoughts and feelings. At first this will be difficult, but soon, it will become refreshing, then addictive, and, finally, liberating. Eventually, you’ll never look back.
Keton Kakkar ’15