TW: sexual assault
Forgive me for barging into the whole ‘Consent is sexy,’ wave that has been going around since the past year or so, but I don’t think that consent is sexy. Don’t get me wrong, I’m glad that we’re finally giving consent the talking space it deserves, but I think calling something as essential as consent, sexy, is problematic in ways more than one. Sex requires consent, period. Non-consensual sex has another term for it, and it’s called rape.
Consent isn’t a piece of lingerie, six-pack abs, or a well-maintained beard. Putting it at par with other things we find sexy is reducing its value. What we consider sexy is never an ultimate – we can very well do without it. Consent isn’t a kink or a preference, it is a mandatory given. If you’re not practicing consent, you’re violating someone of their basic rights. Referring to consent as sexy implies that when there isn’t consent in a sexual activity, it is unsexy – when in reality, it is more than just that - it is sexual assault, in the least.
Do we say that breathing is sexy? Or that water oozes sex appeal? We don’t, because these are vital things, we don’t have to sexualise them in order to make to get more people to consume/practice them. Why should consent be any different? Isn’t it as necessary?
See, I understand where this movement is coming from. It’s like the ad campaigns that tell you to not rape a woman because she is somebody’s sister and daughter. Well intended but fundamentally flawed. Why does consent even have to be sexy? Why are we setting the bar so low?
Another problem with the whole ‘Consent is Sexy’ notion is that it assumes that rapists care about being ‘sexy’. No, seriously, what the hell? Who actually believes that a sexual assaulter will be bothered about whether or not you find him sexually attractive? They aren’t going to stop midway to ask you how you feel. Asking for consent isn’t going to make you want to be raped any less than you wanted earlier – asking for consent and valuing the response would mean that there would be no sex when you say no. Hell, half the time, rape isn’t even about sex – it’s about power and dominance.
You don’t have to find a way to ask for consent in a way that’s sexy or flirty. You don’t have to lace your question with adjectives that will make this conversation sexier – you just need to have this conversation. Consent isn’t sexy, it’s mandatory.