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Consent for Women Outside of the Bedroom

When I first read this article on Vox about consent violations in the blockbuster movie A Star is Born, I thought it was interesting. I personally had not thought of the author’s observations of the situations as consent issues when I watched the movie. That was, until something happened to me.

I typically think of consent in regards to sexual situations, personal space, or when touching is involved. I recall feeling uncomfortable as a child when I was told, ‘give so and so a hug’ or ‘say I love you.’ Now, as an auntie and a sex educator, I realize, this is consent and it is important to give children a choice.

I was once in a situation where my new lover asked for consent for each step of our evening. While I appreciated it and understood, at the time, it seemed unsexy to me. Present day, I appreciate it much more.

The Vox article brings up situations where Lady Gaga’s character repeatedly says NO in a variety of situations, but the male counterparts keep asking and eventually, the no turns to yes. Author Aja Romano brings up a good point, “This version of A Star Is Born puts forth the idea that a woman’s “no” always secretly means “yes,” and that even if she does mean “no,” she can be worn down until she agrees, or else put on the spot and pressured into consent.” I don’t think this is typically done maliciously, but simply something that is so routine, it isn’t realized by men (or women, for that matter.)

Some of the situations Romano notes, I would have thought as coy, but in society, it rings true. I was recently in a professional situation where I declined an offer. Instead of a congenial, ‘Thank you for the consideration.’ I began to feel bullied by a series of events that continued to push for my involvement and support. I know I have strong opinions and my intentions are not always as I intended. I can be stubborn. I am aware of that. I do my best to be diplomatic, however, up until now, this isn’t my strong suit. I am passionate about sexual health and women’s health and I do know what I am talking about.

Today, all I could think was, ‘If my male counterpart had declined participation, that would have been the end of the conversation.’  There would have been no back and forth, demanding detailed rebuttals, supporting facts, and specifics, with another man. However, I felt that because I was a woman, my NO was secretly seen as a YES or NOT YET.

I would love to here your thoughts. Please comment below.