When we talk about consent, especially in relation to sex, it seems pretty straight forward, right? Sexual acts often involve more than one person, which means we need to make sure we have permission from all parties participating.
Then why is it that every 73 seconds a person is sexually assaulted?
This is obviously a huge problem within our society. It can seem extremely overwhelming. Where do we start to make a change? For me, I believe the change can begin with educating the collective on what consent truly means. I feel like most of society does not even know all the boundaries of consent because the media does a horrifically great job at blurring the lines of consent. Then society unconsciously adopts those beliefs because we are constantly exposed to it through TV and social media.
Understanding this concept has helped me reach a point of no longer blaming my abusers. Through my healing journey, I have gained perspective. This perspective has allowed me to see that only one of my abusers were consciously aware that they inflicted sexual trauma onto me.
I asked myself, how is it that these people who hurt me didn’t even understand that they hurt me? The media, society, and even religion, have poisoned our minds. So much so, that the majority of the population does not KNOW they have abusive perceptions. That is what happens when people are living life unconsciously, using TV or social media as personal life guideposts, and not questioning the norms.
Living life mindlessly leaves us vulnerable to deeply absorb the toxicity that is all around us.
If we are not consciously aware of how we perceive the world, this is how we project suffering. Like I just mentioned, the media often blurs the lines of consent. Then society consumes this information. When we are consistently fed these similar unhealthy messages, our unconscious absorbs the messages. If we are not in tune or connected to our own thoughts, emotions, feelings, etc. this is how those unconscious messages leak into our own behaviors. This is how society unknowingly contributes to upholding the harmful narrative around sex and sexuality.
It sounds terrifying, because it is! This is very real. BUT, we have the power to re-program our unconscious mind.
Here are some sexual messages that misconstrued the meaning of consent I have noticed portrayed in movies or shows:
- Normalizing liquid courage to be sexual
- Getting a few drinks in people to loosen them up
- I’m just messing around
- Not taking no for an answer
- Prude shaming
- Assuming body language or clothing equals consent
- Portraying consent as emasculating
- Believing being in a relationship automatically means constant sexual availability
- Cultivating attraction around taking what you want when it involves another person
Just because it has been normalized doesn’t make it okay!
Just because it has been normalized doesn’t make it okay. I will continue to say that. This is where the narrative around sex and sexuality have to change! All of the things listed above have been justifiers in our society in achieving consent.
-If you wouldn’t do it sober, then you shouldn’t be doing it.
-If you need substances to get the job done (lure a person into sexual acts), then you shouldn’t be doing it.
-If you have to justify your behavior as “just messing around”, then you shouldn’t be doing it.
-If you are not taking no for an answer and waiting for the other person to cave, then you shouldn’t be doing it.
-If you are trying to shame a person into being sexual, then you shouldn’t be doing it.
-If you are consumed in “reading the signs” of a person’s body to take your opportunity instead of communicating, then you shouldn’t be doing it.
-If you think what a person is wearing means they are communicating they “want it”, then you shouldn’t be doing it. (trust me, if I want it, then I will literally communicate that to you with my WORDS)
-If you are tip toeing around direct consent for fear of being rejected, then you shouldn’t be doing it.
-If you find yourself continuously acting on sexual desires without checking in just because a person has consented in the past, then you shouldn’t be doing it.
-If you start to have a “take what you want” mindset when it comes to other human beings and sex, then you shouldn’t be doing it.
I would like to be extremely clear in that this is coming from a place of love and compassion. If this is what society is fed, then how is anyone supposed to know any better? Again, this is not a coincidence. We are all intentionally exposed to these hurtful perceptions around sex and sexuality that can easily turn into abuse. I share this concept a little more on my podcast, in episode 18.
That is why I am here to shed light on what consent truly is.
When you are watching TV or on social media, I challenge you to see if you can pin point any of these subliminal messages now. When you do, immediately reframe the message in your mind. Tell yourself, “That behavior does not serve me, but this behavior would serve me (then imagine a conducive scenario or thought process).” We all have the power to create a healthy and safe environment while also allowing ourselves to be sexual beings. It starts with you, individually. When you make a change, it ripples out. It is time to eradicate fear out of the equation of sex and infuse it with love. By incorporating proper consent with anything sexual is a great way to start that process.
When we see the light in ourselves, we create light in others.