Myths about consent

Whether you’re in a sexual relationship or not, each and every sexual engagement you take part in requires respect and consent. There are a lot of myths regarding the concept of consent and even though I have highlighted a few in this article, there are more myths that need to addressed. These are a few of them:

You can (or should) change their mind 

Just because you’re in the mood and the next person is not, this doesn’t mean you should convince them to change their mind. If someone doesn’t want to do anything and you can see that they don’t want to (or they’ve said they don’t want to) – don’t keep trying to get them to do it. Even if they don’t say ‘no’ outright, it still doesn’t mean they want to. A nervous giggle or silence doesn’t mean “yes”.

Only visible discomfort means ‘no’

People confuse consent or saying ‘yes’ as someone laughing, smiling or not “looking” uncomfortable. Someone could say no without fighting you or being mad at you and that no still means no. They could be laughing when they say no and it still means no. If you are confused about whether someone means no or yes, just ask them. Before doing anything with them say “Can I do x” or “Would you be fine if I did x”. Only if they say yes is it okay for you to go ahead.

You don’t need consent in a relationship

Consent also applies in relationships. Just because you’re in a relationship with someone, it doesn’t mean that they automatically own your body and are owed sex or sexual favours on demand. A person is always in control of their own bodies so you still need to check if they’re okay with doing something before you do it. It’s easy for a partner to sexually violate another in a relationship because there’s this assumption that being in a relationship means that your partner has access to you whenever they want, even when you don’t feel like it.  Either person in the relationship has the right to say no, and their partner should always respect that. 

What you wear signifies consent

A lot of women are victims of street harassment because of what they wear but believe me when I say that what somebody wears has nothing to do with wanting sex nor is it an invitation to be touched without their permission. Even if someone is naked, it doesn’t mean that they automatically consent to anything sexual. Again Choma, someone’s body is not anyone else’s and absolutely no one has the right to violate anyone based on what they look like or wear. 

They have to say yes once

Anybody can withdraw their consent at any time. This means that if someone said yes last month or an hour ago, they have a right to change their mind, and them doing so, is absolutely okay and it’s not unfair on you. They don’t owe you sex, no one does. Remembering that is key to understanding consent. 

Statements like “yes” or “no” don’t require any definitions because they are crystal clear. If someone says no, believe them. If you’re unsure, ask for their permission – read this article for advice on how to ask for consent. Conversations around consent should always be had, especially because so many women are raped and harassed as a result of people not understanding or respecting consent. We all need to talk about this more so that we can spread awareness about its importance and help end violence, harassment, rape and victim-blaming. Don’t forget to share this article with your friends and family members. 

Remember, if you or a friend need advice or help, you can contact me here on Ask Choma, send me a Facebook Message, a Twitter DM, or a WhatsApp Message (071 172 3657).