Understanding consent

It should not be a question of maybe; it is the presence of “yes.” It is clear, unintoxicated, a complete “yes.” An answer which may be withdrawn at any time, for any reason, and one which even if given while alert, should be assumed to be withdrawn once any mind-muddling agents have had their play. In college, lack of consent at the very least will hurt someone, perhaps destroy reputations, but what it will likely do, is seriously injure and derail one person’s life. The factor of drugs is one of the most concerning elements. When two intoxicated individuals who are unable to provide consent and one of them takes issue with their actions the next day, who is to blame?

Consent for all actions is important; just because someone wants a cookie, it doesn’t mean they want all of your cookies. Some people like chocolate chip or oatmeal raisin. If someone wants chocolate chip cookies but not oatmeal raisin, that doesn’t mean you should force feed them oatmeal raisin cookies. Even if they eat all your chocolate chip cookies, they still may not want oatmeal raisin. It also doesn’t matter how much money you spent on cookies; if the person of your interest says “no” or looks unsure, then don’t keep asking. If they say “yes” and are not inhibited or pressured in any way, continue to ask if they still want more cookies in case they change their mind. Even if they say they want some of your cookies, they could still decide against having milk.

Perhaps they’ve agreed to a relationship instead of an exchange of mutually accepted actions. This is not permission for abuse, verbal or physical. Relationships, just as familial relations, are not a declaration of ownership; it is not a permission slip declaring, “Anything goes!” It is, however, meant to be a construct of respect and trust.

Any form of relationship is not a guarantee for permanence.

Domestic violence, which includes any form of abuse, is unacceptable. The beginning of the end of any healthy relationship is thinking your actions have no consequence, that you have no faults, and that the other person isn’t impacted by what you do. At the end of my elementary school career, my mom was arrested for domestic violence; the physical aspect was not directed at me, but the verbal abuse was toward everyone in the household. We had tried to solve our problems at home, but my mother is not a reasonable and understanding individual. The cops, who had been called by people concerned for my mother’s safety, had warned my father that Social Services would take my sister and me if my father did not file a domestic violence report that night. He did. We are relieved to not have her around. Physical abuse is abominable, but so is every kind of abuse; mental and emotional abuse often leave scars that are the hardest to see, especially when it is inflicted by those who claim they love you, by those you thought you loved too.

Kalli Joslin

Section Editor, Web Editor, and resident cat-lover at The Sandspur.

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