Understanding Consent 0 671

In 2021, the need for an article explaining consent is disappointing. Haven’t we come to a point where we understand that no means no and that’s that? Although we have come leaps and bounds in terms of understanding what constitutes sexual assault and holding predators more accountable than ever, there are still many individuals out there who have a hard time grasping the severity and importance of the issue.

To put it simply, consent refers to the act of giving permission in order to perform an action. For example, agreeing to go to the movies with your friends would be a form of giving consent. It’s not a concept that is hard to understand and in our daily lives we give and seek consent for lots of different things. However, when it comes to the realm of sexual behavior, understanding the nuances of consent seems to be difficult to comprehend for some individuals. 

What most people understand about consent is that a simple yes means the green light in going forward, however, there are many other factors that play into the legitimacy of consent. If someone is under the influence of drugs or alcohol they may not be able to consent to anything because they aren’t in the right state of mind. If someone is below the age of 18 and doesn’t  fully understand what they are getting themselves into, they are also unlikely able to give consent. Sexual consent isn’t cut and dry because sex isn’t cut and dry. It’s an adult act and should be treated as such – only in the right state of mind, with all the information presented is an individual actually able to give consent. What you should be looking for is not a haphazard yes, rather one that is enthusiastic and excited to be in the situation with you. 

“A person’s value doesn’t stem from their sexuality and this misinformed narrative where individuals believe that being rejected or receiving a no equals a lessened value unto themselves is a major reason why people find it so hard to either grasp or – in the worst case- care about obtaining consent.”

At the end of the day, sex is a beautiful thing that brings individuals closer together. It can bring babies into the world and plays a huge part in the lives of many adults. However, because it has become such a taboo subject in our culture where we can barely even speak about it, so many individuals don’t understand how to (1) ask for consent or (2) determine if the consent they are getting is coming from a person who is actually able to give it. These small distinctions between an informed and enthusiastic yes or a pressure-induced inebriated yes are where the nuances of consent exist. Understanding this is the key to understanding consent.

Source: MCC

The only way around this is through education. Our school system needs to bring about the subject of consent from a young age. Only through normalizing that it is okay to say no and to respect the no of someone else, will we be able to bring up a generation of adults who have no issue comprehending consent. A person’s value doesn’t stem from their sexuality and this misinformed narrative where individuals believe that being rejected or receiving a no equals a lessened value unto themselves is a major reason why people find it so hard to either grasp or – in the worst case- care about obtaining consent. 

As a rule of thumb, remember that consent is key in creating meaningful physical and sexual experiences. We all have a right to make our own decisions about our bodies and who we choose to share them with. If someone says no to you, take it in stride and move on. Don’t try to guilt, persuade or force them into doing something they don’t want to. The only way that consent should look is with excitement and enthusiasm coming from a person who is in the right state of mind to make a decision – that way, you’ll definitely be in for a good time!

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How To Be An Ally 0 576

Being an ally means standing in solidarity with a movement, this movement doesn’t have to directly affect your life, in fact you can have absolutely nothing to do with a movement and still be an ally to it. For example, standing in solidarity with the #StopAsianHate movement while not being Asian. It may not be your lived experience but you can understand and empathise with the situation while backing it in whatever ways you can.

Being outside a cause and supporting it holds great power and responsibility. A lot of times, when individuals who are within an oppressed group speak out against their oppression, they aren’t taken as seriously because they’re seen as too emotional and in too deep. Obviously this is a ridiculous reason to discount somebody’s experience but unfortunately it’s what many people do to minimise and dismiss causes. However, when someone who is standing outside that experience perceives it the same way as the person experiencing it, this brings about a level of legitimacy to the general public* which can be very beneficial to a movement.

Here’s a list of do’s and don’ts:

Do: Listen

This is probably the most important part of being a good ally. It’s likely that you’ll never feel what the individuals within the particular cause is feeling so take time to listen and learn.

Do Not: Bring up a cause that impact you

It’s understandable that sometimes when you’re listening to someone speak about injustices against them that you’d want to speak up about the injustices that you face. However, there is a time and place for this so reserve those thoughts for a separate conversation.

Do: Question your own beliefs

In the process of learning about a cause, we can be faced with uncomfortable truths that bring our own prejudices or beliefs to light. Remember that we’re only human and forgive yourself for your mistakes but also consciously change those thoughts and challenge yourself to change the root of those beliefs.

Do: Research on your own

More often than not individuals who are at the forefront of a movement spend so much of their time educating the general public. This can be very emotionally and mentally taxing so do take some time on your own to read up and educate yourself.

Don’t: Assume you know more 

Even though doing your own research to lay the foundation of your understanding is imperative to being a good ally, this by no means makes you an expert on the subject. There is immense value to lived experience and be mindful that you’ll never truly be able to understand beyond those who have actually lived it.

Do: Share information 

This can be through conversations with friends and family or sharing on social media. It can feel just like a drop in the bucket but every share, every conversation and every acknowledgement of a cause is helpful and valuable so don’t underestimate your power in sharing information.

Don’t: Stay silent when hearing misinformation

Silence = compliance. If you hear someone spreading a false narrative or wrong information, don’t be afraid to speak up. It is important to at least try to rectify some of the ignorant beliefs that people hold, even if they aren’t as receptive to listening, it is important to at least try.

These are just some of the ways in which we can all be good allies to one another. In these challenging times it’s important to recognise and check our privilege while being empathetic to one another because the fact is existing on this earth is just easier for some than others. Let’s all do our part in creating a world where we feel heard and supported in the struggles that we face.

Comment below if you found this helpful or if you have any more do’s and don’ts of being an ally! 

*Just to note, this author by no means believes that allies make a movement legitimate, the people on the inside doing the hard work are the ones who make it legitimate. 

Equity 0 499

Let’s Get This Straight

A phrase that defines what Lemonaid and Yuzu are working towards is creating a more equitable world. But what does the word equitable actually mean? Let’s get this straight. 

The root word of equitable is equity, equity means being fair and impartial. It is a derivative of the world equal, which is what we’re pursuing – creating a world where everyone is treated equally and fairly while being given equal opportunities. However, there is a distinct nuance between being equal and being equitable that is very important to note.

In society, different people have different levels of privilege which make it easier or harder for them to be successful. For someone who grows up in a wealthy home with access to private school and university, getting a good job and having a nice life seems very possible. But for someone who grows up in poverty in a district where the schooling system is not very good and university is unaffordable, the chance of getting a good job and getting out of poverty to a better life is not as attainable. Treating both these individuals equally without accounting for their background ends up not being fair because their starting points are very different. This is where equity comes into play, when treating this situation with equity the child who is more disadvantaged would be given additional support to help them overcome those barriers and the playing field would be level so that both children have an equal shot at success. 

Equity works by taking into account the situations that people come from, thus giving them the ability to overcome barriers and have an equal footing as others who are more privileged. 

When we talk about creating a more equitable world we are talking about making things equal, but we are also talking about taking into consideration the advantages and disadvantages that individuals face. To us, being equitable is the only way to create equality. 

Do you feel like this helped you understand this topic a little better?

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