Consent and Silence

Consent.

It’s a hot topic around here lately.

Sometimes it seems like it’s not talked about at all, and sometimes it seems like it’s the only thing being talked about. Some people seem to read or write about it all the time, others seem to never have encountered the concept, and others are only just realizing it exists as a Thing.

There are lots of ways to talk about consent, from sexual to non-sexual, from kinky to vanilla, from boundaries to negotiation, from safewords/gestures to none at all.

These are all important things.

But I think the most troubling thing is when I hear people say, “We need to stop talking about consent.”

Why? Why would we need to stop?

I understand the feeling of swimming in that river of C O N S E N T, being near-drowned in arguments about it. I understand feeling like I’m beginning to have a good grip on consent–what it means, what it looks like, what some good models and practices are around consent–and to therefore maybe feel like Idon’t need to be educated about it much.

But.

There’s always a but.

Just because I am educated about it doesn’t mean the next person is–or even that I actually am. I may actually have quite a bit to learn on the topic and just not realize it. Either way, my feeling of being deluged in consent topics doesn’t mean we should stop talking about consent. Stopping the talk about consent would mean not educating people about consent. Not educating people about consent will more than likely lead to more cases of harm, assault, broken boundaries, breached trust (however intentional or unintentional, however ‘gray’ these cases may be).

When I feel drenched in consent topics, I take a step back. I take a breather. I spell myself. I go find another topic to read or write about. And then, when I’m ready, I come back. Because this is an important topic, one that is not well understood in any of our communities and not well-taught in most places. I come back, because I’m a survivor, and too many of my loved ones are survivors, and too many of theirs are survivors.

Silence isn’t the answer here.

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