TRIGGER WARNING: This article discusses briefly rape and sexual assault.
Driving down the street the other day, I saw a giant billboard on the side of the road. "Consent is SEXY," it read. Immediately, I became extremely frustrated. You may be thinking to yourself, "Why were ya frustrated, Rach? Consent is good! You should be happy to see a billboard like that." Well, let me tell you why I find that phrase not only problematic, but just plain dumb.
I want to start out by attempting to make one thing clear; consensual sex doesn't exist. When the act of sexual intercourse (or any kind of sexual act) becomes non-consensual, it is no longer sex... it becomes sexual assault, or even rape. "Sex" simply cannot exist without consent. That's the way it works. For sex to happen, all parties partaking in it must consent. So, if you want to have sex with someone (or someones), you figure out if they want to have sex with you, too. If they do, that's wonderful! Go at it. If they don't, then you don't get to have sex with them because they don't consent to it. BOOM. It's that simple. Anything that happens after someone doesn't consent is therefore nonconsensual (duh), and is no longer sex. Really let that sink in.
Now, back to this billboard. I quickly want to create a little disclaimer, so here it goes: I recognize that there are much worse things that could be posted on a billboard. For example:
Am I right, ladies? But, I digress. My main purpose in attempting to expose the issues underlying in the expression "consent is sexy" is to hopefully show people that consent is essential, and shouldn't merely be viewed as something that will somehow make you more attractive. Consent is something that is absolutely vital 100 percent of the time any kind of sex is going on. It isn't something that should make you feel like a good person. It isn't something that you should do because it will make your partner find you ~sexy~. It's something that should be done without thinking. It's something that should be recognized as a norm. Consent doesn't make you hot. Consent makes you not a rapist.
Respect is something that is incredibly important. If you respect yourself as a (hopefully) decent person with decent morals and decent ideals, then you will get consent. If you respect whoever you are about to have sex with, then you will get consent. Do you want to turn someone on? Great! That's wonderful. Work with them to figure out how. Don't think that just because you don't rape them, you're somehow sexier than you would have been as a rapist.
Basically, consent isn't sexy. Consent is a basic human right. You should get consent like you roll the windows up in your car when it's raining. It just makes sense. (Not to mention, if you don't, you've really messed up.) Yeah, I understand that the billboard was trying to put consent in a positive light. Perhaps I should be more annoyed with the fact that today's society is so over-sexualized that it needs something as simple as not sexually assaulting someone to be sexualized in order for it to make sense than with the actual company sponsoring the billboard. But, in the end, maybe it would've helped if it simply said "Get consent." Nice and simple. You can't really manipulate that phrase, now can you?