Though well-intentioned, the “consent is sexy” phrase and movement recently sparked in modern society misses the mark by quite a bit; “sexy” has never been synonymous with “necessary.” Why are we painting it as if it is?
According to the official Consent Is Sexy website, the welcome page has a slogan stating, “Sex with consent is sexy. Sex without consent is rape.”
This phrase concocted by the movement is problematic simply because consent before engaging in sexual activity should not have to be sugarcoated and attractive in order for someone to feel the need to practice it. To be sexy is not an obligation, but getting consent from one’s sexual partner is absolutely necessary.
The specific phrase given by the Consent Is Sexy movement website seems as though it is not even capitalizing on the necessity of consent, but it is instead dancing around it.
The movement itself seems very focused on the overall aesthetics of the literature it hands out to different colleges and high schools that sign up for its services, more so than the message of the literature.
The mindset that the literature must be aesthetically pleasing in order for students to pick it up is understandable, but at the same time, it is over the top. Sexual education does not, and should not, have to be attractive and entertaining in order to be paid attention to by the public.
Overall, another error with the overall “consent is sexy” phrase is that rapists do not care what is sexy and what is not; that is not their main mission. They do not care if they are being attractive or not. They are out for their own selfish needs.
According to a blog post on AC Voice, consent should not be simply utilized to amp sexual pleasure, but is about showing one’s sexual partner that their feelings matter and are being paid attention to in a time of intimacy.
By just projecting “consent is sexy” on pieces of literature and over the internet, it is effectively minimizing the importance of its presence during sexual activity to simply be attractive, thus masking the fact that it is obligatory.
After all, sexual activity without consent is sexual assault. When putting it so bluntly, it does not at all make sense why anyone would say something so vital is just “sexy.”
What if the answer to the consent being asked for is “no?” Is that expected to be “sexy” as well?
If the answer to a sexual advance is no, the matter obviously needs to be talked through, which in no way has to be sexy at all. This is when the very distinct line between “sexy” and “necessary” shows its face. Being sexually attractive to someone isn’t exactly serious, but the matter of knowing whether or not one is sexually assaulting their partner or not is.
As a blog post from The Orbit stated, “sexy” and “sexuality” are two entirely different concepts. Sexuality does not have be sexy all the time; in fact, it is vital to be able to discuss with one’s sexual partner what one is and is not comfortable with doing.
“Sexy,” in this context, is painted as the fact that the answer will be “yes!” every time, and to everything.
It is time to become more realistic about the matter of asking consent and giving it. “Consent is sexy” is a cute, cliche start to a more serious societal conversation at hand, but is it really stopping those who don’t care whether or not they are being sexy? Is it really capitalizing on the fact that regardless of being sexy or not, it is necessary to ask first?
Let’s separate from this “sexy” concept and officially replace it with “necessary” or “obligatory.” Whatever one’s preference is for the word’s replacement, sex is not sex without consent on both ends.
The intimacy discussion that must take place between sexual partners does not have to be flirty and attractive, it just has to take place.
Christina Beals is a sophomore journalism major, from Cary, North Carolina. Follow her on Twitter @christinalala_
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