Consent? You already understand it
Every time someone talks about consent, people always say they do not fully comprehend it. To them, it’s all too much to understand. But the thing is, we already understand consent.
In our daily experiences, we all have things we dislike and the dislike stems from an understanding of consent and boundaries. Here are four regular examples that show that we do not need any more explanations to understand consent.
Once doesn’t mean all the time
Imagine today is Monday. Monday is your busiest day at school. You have lectures that last from 7am till 4pm. By the time the lectures are over, you’re exhausted. You just want to get to your room, and relax. Maybe you’ll put on a movie, or play a little FIFA. Or get on the phone with your significant other and vibe for a while. Anything to de-stress. So today, you bought some Indomie and went to your room.
You enter your room to see Sammy sitting down with some other guys. Sammy is your next-door neighbour. A while back, as you were about to head out, you gave him a spare key because he wanted to play video games in your room. You allowed him to do this once, and you forgot to take back the key.
When you enter your room, you’re met with boys you don’t even know all up in your space. Sammy is lying on your bed watching a movie on your laptop. The bed that you made before leaving for lectures because you like to come back to a neat bed. The bed you’ve been dreaming about because you’re tired.
Sammy tries to say hello, but you’re upset. You ask him what he’s doing here with all these people. He tells you that he thought you wouldn’t mind because you allowed him that one time to stay in your room while you were out.
Because a person allows you to touch them once does not mean you get to touch them anytime that you want.
The food is not yours
Normally, whenever you buy waakye you like to share it with your roommate. It’s a tradition to invite him to join you whenever you’re eating. But it’s your food because you are the one who pays for it; he never contributes to the payment.
Today, when you bought the waakye, you bought extra meat because your mother told you that you’re losing weight and so you need to eat more protein. You got to your room and suddenly remembered that you hadn’t taken your change from the seller. You left the food on top of the fridge and told your roommate not to touch it because you’d be back shortly. Then you left to get the change.
When you returned, you were hit by the aroma of the food. You opened the pack to find out that more than half of the food was gone. You angrily asked your roommate why he ate the food. He told you that he was hungry, and because you guys normally eat together he didn’t think you’d be upset. Also, because you normally don’t eat a lot, he left you a small portion as usual. He had no idea why you’d be upset by this.
The fact that you and a person have sex regularly does not mean you have a right do it even if they don’t agree.
If it isn’t given to you, it isn’t yours to take
You’re someone who loves to give out money. Anytime you have money to spend, you spread it around so everyone can enjoy some. You are the guy that buys a thousand bottles at Bloombar every Friday. You like sending people money all the time.
One day you walked out of a KFC and were walking to your car. Some guy saw you and recognised you as one of the rich guys that like to go to Twist. He knew all about you. You’re one of those guys that had a lot of money to spend and didn’t mind spending it. You had no idea what to use your money for. The guy came to stand in front of you and greeted you. Because you had no idea who he was, you just nodded in response and tried to enter your car.
This made the guy angry. Who were you to ignore him? Is it because you had money? Before you could even understand why this guy was upset, he pushed you against the car.
All the people who were around pretended not to see. The guy pinned you to the car and there was nothing you could do because he was bigger than you. He put his hand in your pockets and pulled out a wallet. You were silent as he took out wads of cash from the wallet. For the guy, this wasn’t a mugging because you like to spend. He smiled and told you to pretend as if you had met a beggar on the street and given him your money. Only after he left that the anger hit you. You entered your car and called the police.
The fact that a person has an active sexual life does not mean they have to agree to sleep with you.
You can’t work everyday
Your friend calls and asks for your help to move out of his house this weekend. You agree because you don’t mind helping your friend. The day comes and you start to head towards his place. While you were driving, you got a stomachache.
You were able to reach a filling station to find a washroom to take a dump. It turned out that you had diarrhoea. There was a pharmacy at the filling station so you bought some drugs. But you still felt weak. You also have a headache because of dehydration. And yet you were still able to make it to your friend’s place.
When you arrived, you told him that you couldn’t help him carry stuff because you were ill. Your friend told you that he understood that you weren’t feeling better, but he still needed your help because he couldn’t carry any of the things alone. You told him that you couldn’t help him today, but tomorrow was also a good day to move. Your friend tried to force you to stand up to help him. You couldn’t, because you were in serious pain. You got upset and left his place.
The fact that a person has agreed to sleep with you does not mean that they cannot change their minds.
So you see? You already understand it.
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About the author: Fui Can-Tamakloe is a writer and poet based in Accra, Ghana. He enjoys writing, drinking beer, and tweeting about sex. He writes in English, and Ghanaian Pidgin.