Consent culture refers to a culture where the enthusiastic and informed consent of all parties involved is a basic and necessary component of any sexual or intimate activity. It emphasizes the importance of respecting boundaries and communicating clearly and openly with partners about what is and is not okay. Consent culture also promotes the idea that consent can be withdrawn at any time and that everyone has the right to their own boundaries and agency.
But consent culture is about much more than that.
It’s about having respect for one’s own and others’ autonomy and bodily autonomy, and making sure that all parties are willing and enthusiastic before engaging in any activity, intimate or otherwise. This culture is opposed to the traditional culture where consent is often assumed or not actively sought and where activities take place without the explicit consent of all parties involved.
There are of course different forms of consent. They include verbal, written, and nonverbal consent. Verbal consent is when someone explicitly agrees to something through spoken words, written consent is when someone agrees to something through written documents, and nonverbal consent is when someone agrees to something through actions or body language.
It is important to note that consent should always be freely given, informed, and specific to the situation at hand. Additionally, consent can be withdrawn at any time.
Often people want to assume consent, or to not bother to ask for consent for things that are not intimate.
An example of a non-intimate situation where people don’t typically ask for consent, but they should, is in sharing personal information. For example, if a person wants to share someone else’s personal information with a third party, they should first ask for that person’s consent. This applies to any type of personal information, including, but not limited to, contact information, medical information, financial information, and location data.
Another example in income tax. For most people, money is taken out of their paycheck without their consent.
And the problem with these examples is that when we show some areas in society where we say it’s ok to do things without explicit consent, we encourage others to also act without explicit consent, which may involve unwanted touching or worse.
Our support of consent culture has to be complete. There is no violation of consent culture that doesn’t weaken the idea as a whole.