What do blokes think ‘consent’ means?
I spoke to an assortment of men (scandalous) about what they thought consent was or should be seen as in 2018. Here are their wonderful, varied, personal and actually pretty thoughtful answers.
Henry, A Straight British White Bloke, 24
Consent means the dictionary definition of consent; giving permission for an act to happen. I don’t see many grey areas…consent is explicit, you either give it or you don’t. Yes means yes, no means no. No excuses.
N.B, A Straight Scottish White Bloke, 19
Well (consent is) a clear yes, obviously, but I think there are situations in which you don’t need to ask. For example if I was in a long term relationship, I wouldn’t call it sexual assault if she or I touched each other without asking.
Almost, like, there is tacit consent when you sign up to a relationship; however if the other person says ‘no’ then you do not go any further.
Also it can be strange with different sexual desires: the girl I’m seeing at the moment likes to role-play rape a lot…so we have a ‘contract’ and a safe word which is a real no.
With alcohol it can be a tough one (defining consent)…I’ve definitely slept with people I didn’t want to because I was drunk. But I wouldn’t say I was raped…but you always need to ask. Which can take the sexiness out of it…But who cares? If you’re with someone drunk there needs to be clear communication that you both want it. We all know rape culture exists and it’s important to eradicate it.
Martin, A Bulgarian Straight Bloke, 22
In native english, I know that consent means permission for something to happen, meaning mutual agreement for an action to happen. I would see someone as consenting when s/he gives a clear statement that s/he agrees something to happen, understanding the full conditions of the act.
Usama, A Pakistani Straight Bloke, 24
I know some people think its dull when you ask to kiss someone, because media has made spontaneity so desirable. But I believe in asking, even if it makes me look like an awkward uncle. I think clear verbal consent from both parties is important. Consent can be withdrawn any time so it’s important to keep establishing it at any point where one party feels uncomfortable. You may during a sleepover have to ask even 2–3 or 4 times whenever you initiate something. She should as well.
Consent is clear, unmistakable. If at any point its withdrawn, ask why it was withdrawn and make you dont repeat that behaviour.
Dominic, A Bisexual White British Bloke, 21
Well, I very much take a yes-means-yes approach, so I think consent involve a positive affirmation of willingness when presented with a legitimate binary option to do or not do something (with the free ability to opt out at any point). However, I can easily see how this creates a grey area, because humans very often aren’t literal creatures.We don’t just go around asking direct questions of consent and responding ‘Yea’ or ‘Nay’ because social interactions are far more complex than that. The grey area within consent exists in terms of what bodily signals and inexplicit language counts as consent I think. We can’t change the nature of human interaction (which is so often heavily non-verbal) to fit a consent model, so we have to find a definition of consent that accounts for that type of communication.
D.P, A Straight Northern White British Bloke, 21
I’d say that consent is the permission from someone to enter their self-defined personal space…and not just in a penetrative sense.
I think it’s (abuse of consent) like smoking — pretty much everyone who smokes knows the serious health risks that come with it, but do it anyway. I don’t think that society is unaware of what consent is — it’s not hard to understand — I think that some people make an choice to abuse someone’s personal space. There was a guy in a society that I used to be in, who used to touch me up when he was drunk. He’d be absolutely fine when sober, but when he was drunk he’d just come onto me; justified by the fact that I ‘had a camp personality and clearly had something I wasn’t sure about’. I remember him telling me at least twice that “I shouldn’t act so camp because faggots will get the wrong idea”.
A.C, A Straight Black-British Bloke, 23
I worry about this, because I’m scared I’ll misinterpret something and it will be assault. I don’t want to hurt no one. No guy wants to hurt a girl. But they never say when they are uncomfortable and asking all the time is not realistic, you know? Yeah, I worry. I don’t wanna be a rapist or anything. I was with a girl and she was a bit drunk, but not crazy drunk, and she started screaming at me halfway through sex. I stopped of course, but was that like, assault? I don’t know. I think most men don’t know and are scared (of committing assault).
Timo, A White German Straight Bloke, 21
(Consent is) ensuring that every participating person is fine with possible future actions? We should have a discussion about consent, about sexuality in general, too…and gender roles, and roles in society also.
U. M, A Bisexual South Asian Bloke, 22
Are there any grey areas in consent? Yeah. When both parties are intoxicated and deemed legally incapable of engaging in the process of verbal consent from each other.
Drunk sex should be like drunk driving: I think at some point it becomes imperative on 3rd parties to consider intervening to make it stop. Like, the way you take the keys away from someone drunk at a bar. It sounds invasive I know, people stepping in to prevent other people from making out, copping a feel or having sex when they’re both drunk. But ….yeah, I dunno, since 2 intoxicated people can’t form consent, we should consider a system where you could even call the cops and report it. Like… criminalize drunk sex. Parties would even have to take a breathalyzer lol. But that’s just me I guess, I believe in the state too much because of my past as a government employee.
Are you a man with an important opinion that disagrees with the public debate on consent? Comment angrily below. I promise to nod quietly.