The idea of consent is something that has been a recurring topic in our society in recent years. Whether it's in the context of a person being touched by someone in a way that makes them feel uncomfortable, or actual rape — for some reason, people have a difficult time agreeing what "consent" actually means. Which is completely ridiculous, if you ask me. And this parent's Reddit post about consent shows it's not just about sex.
Recently, a Reddit user started a thread titled, "An unconventional conversation about consent." And in it, they shared just that. The user prefaced the post by explaining that their family has always had open conversation with their kids about sex, bodies, and puberty — and that "the talk" is an ongoing conversation. With this in mind, the original posted delved into a situation they recently experienced with their three kids.
"Recently we’ve had an issue where my daughter (11) has asked her younger brother (10) to stop going in her room at night. They have always been very close since they are only 17 months apart and at night sometimes laugh and watch videos or read books, etc.," the original poster wrote. "But she’s just started puberty and doesn’t feel comfortable anymore. However, my youngest son will still show up in her room sometimes when he can’t sleep or wants to use her iPad/charger, etc."
The user went on to explain that their daughter was upset about her brother going into her room — yet again — after she had gone to sleep. (He did it in order to take the phone off the charger to charge his iPad. But still.) At this point, the parents threatened that if it happened again, he would lose device time for a week. Their 14-year-old son then came to his brother's defense, saying, "That’s not fair, she’s always telling him to come to her room so they can watch videos and I hear them talking and laughing in there and now she’s gonna suddenly say he can’t and he’s gonna get in trouble?”
That's when the original poster chimed in, explaining," it IS fair and he will get in trouble, because this is an issue of consent!"
They went onto explain, "Just because somebody invites you over one time, doesn’t mean you’re invited over forever. They are allowed to tell you when it is and isn’t ok for you to come over, and you have to respect that."
The OP continued:
Anybody has the right to say they aren’t enjoying something anymore, at any time, even if they were previously enjoying it, and you have to listen and respect that and stop. And most importantly, before doing something with someone, you need to get consent, every time, and sleeping/passed out people can’t give consent.
The Reddit user then perfectly summed it all up, writing, "So while it wasn’t about sex because it’s not a sexual issue, conversations about boundaries and respect and privacy are ultimately conversations about consent and we have to keep having them over and over so the lines never get blurred."
A. Freaking. Men.
In case you were wondering, Reddit seems to approve of the way this user handled the situation, too. One person commented, "Awesome job!! Hope other parents who read this will do that as well."
Another person wrote, "Yeah, we do something similar with tickling. When the child being tickled says 'stop' the tickling stops right then. It doesn’t resume unless they indicate they want to start again."
Yet another Reddit user had a suggestion, writing, "Nicely handled! Can I also suggest getting your daughter an open/closed style sign she can hang on her door and flip as needed? Could help remind him when he can or can't ask for things from her."
When it comes down to it, the definition of "consent" isn't difficult at all. An anti-rape campaign in Canada from a few years back sums it up pretty nicely. The project was called More Than Yes, according to HuffPost. And the ground rules are straightforward:
Real consent is mutual and sure. It is not muted, frail, hesitant, or afraid. It is never uncertain, assumed, or silent.Consent cannot be gained through manipulation, intimidation, or threatening behaviour. A person who is intoxicated with alcohol or drugs can’t give consent. Consent cannot be given by a person who is passed out or asleep. Consent must be continuous and can be withdrawn at any time during sex.
Yet, there are still people victim-shaming others for what they were wearing at the time of an assault, or for the fact that they were intoxicated at the time. Like they were asking for it somehow because of these details. That's what happened during the hearing involving allegations by Dr. Christine Blasey Ford. It happened during the Brock Turner trail — during which the Stanford student sexually assaulted an unconscious woman, but was only given a six-month prison sentence, as CNN reported. And it has continually happened as more victims have come forward in light of the Me Too movement.
Which is exactly why it's so important that parents — like this Reddit user — are having ongoing conversations about consent. Because regardless if a situation is sexual, it's about boundaries, privacy, and respect. And everyone has the right to revoke their consent at any given point in time. Period.