Tell Me What You Want: Radicalizing Consent
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Politics and Activism

Tell Me What You Want: Radicalizing Consent

I really, really, really wanna... establish consent as culturally mandatory.

Tell Me What You Want: Radicalizing Consent
Pixabay / Aktim

Trigger warning: This article contains material regarding sexual assault and rape culture.

The Spice Girls had it right: tell me what you want, what you really, really want.

I really, really, really wanna... radicalize consent.

I want us to cultivate an environment in which asking for consent is the norm, even if it's, "Is it okay if I hug you? Is it okay if I touch your shoulder? Can I hold your hand?" or "Is it okay if I sit near you? Are you comfortable with this?"

I want people to teach their children to ask for consent the way they teach them their colors or saying "please" and "thank you." I want adults to ask for consent before touching children in any fashion, and I want them to respect the child's right to say no. I want children to understand their right to bodily autonomy. When a child tells another child on the playground not to touch them, I want that to be respected and not laughed off. I want schools to teach consent the way they teach multiplication or five-paragraph essays; I want fifth-grade students to be able to recite the definition of affirmative consent the way they can recite the pledge of allegiance.

I want consent to become so second-nature to us that it transfers naturally from platonic to sexual acts. I want us to advertise consent as mandatory, not sexy. I want everyone to recognize that only yes means yes (legally, in California!). I want us to stop blaming consumption of alcohol or drugs, lack of resistance and attire for sexual assault. I want sexual assault to be an anomaly, not a likelihood. I want people to be believed when they report it; I want everyone to support Emily Doe and to condemn her rapist (and stop saying his damn name). For that matter, start calling her a survivor rather than the "Stanford Victim."

I want less of this:

And more of this:

I want to tell you what I want. I want you to tell me what you want. I want everyone to feel comfortable asking for consent, and I want everyone to feel comfortable rejecting that request. I want everyone to respect everyone else's bodily autonomy, no matter what. I want radical consent, and I want it now.

That's what I really, really want.

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