The Importance Of Consent

Respecting that individuals have the right to make decisions about their bodies has been a short-lived notion, despite it being a pretty straightforward concept. Informed consent in regards to medical treatment and trials has only been around for about 100 years. The landmark case of Schloendorf v. Society of New York Hospital in 1917 determined that “[E]very human being of adult years and sound mind has a right to determine what shall be done with his own body…”. Let’s think about that for a minute. In those one hundred years, people still haven’t seemed to be able to respect bodily autonomy, particularly towards women and minorities [Current abortions debates; Tuskegee Study (1930s-1970s)].

Now I’d like to turn your attention to the concept of sexual consent. In today’s world, we stand on the shoulders of giants in regards to the idea that everything that exists did not just come out of the blue. Our society is a product of all previous time periods that were lived before us, including moral and social values. Up until very recently there was a general social consensus that women were possessions, objects, something to own and use at your leisure, and they were used to instill a sense of power in the men who controlled them.

To this day, it still seems necessary to argue that women are more than just baby making machines or objects of desire and are capable and justified in making their own decisions. I believe that the problem of consent is more than just an issue of understanding what consent means. Respecting consent is an idea that goes against most of the morals throughout imperialistic, misogynistic history. We must recognize this in order to understand that this is not a surface issue. It is an issue that is ingrained in our society, in our understanding of power, in our vocabulary and in our collective unconscious. It is an issue that deals with a type respect that just hasn’t been present in most of human history.

In order to try to better explain this idea of consent, this video that is presented uses tea as a substitute for sex in order to put consent in even more clear cut terms. This helps with the concept by taking away the word sex and replacing it with tea, a hard concrete noun that everyone generally has the same definition of, as well as taking away the ambiguous interpretations of what constitutes sexual desire and replacing it with thirst and decisions about food for oneself. This reduces the idea of objectifications of persons as it regards sex as the object instead of an individual and leaves no room for “ifs, ands or buts” with regards to respecting other people’s bodies and choices.

 

Anna Drobny

Anna Drobny has been volunteering with STSM since October 2015.