Sisterhood With Shaili: Navya Naveli Nanda, Dr Yuvi and Swati Jagdish Talk Consent

Indian society has always somehow given in to the idea that a yes hides in every no and if not, the no’s can be provoked to be changed into a yes. Thanks to Bollywood, the idea of “ladki k na mein haa hoti hai,” but let me stop you right there, if consent can be manipulated as preferable for the recipient, how is it really consent?

Our generation has come a long way into accepting the value of consent and appropriating it, however, what if our generation has got it completely wrong? In case, even you believe consent is just about yes or no, here is something for you to think again.

In the latest episode of Sisterhood with Shaili, Aara Health founder Navya Naveli Nanda, gynaecologist Dr Yuvraj Jadeja and Swati Jagdish, who uses social media to teach consent to her daughter joined SheThePeople founder for a conversation regarding consent and if it is really about just a yes or no.

When asked if this generation’s women are really rethinking how they approach their bodies, Nanda answered, “It’s always the health of the child, the health of the husband, the health of the overall household that primarily comes before the health of the woman herself.”

Nanda went on to explain that a woman’s understanding of consent and her own body is much influenced by society. This is because right from the childhood, they are used to hearing things like you’re too skinny, you need to put on more weight.

“And it becomes more of a family event than something that stays between the man and wife. That has almost led to this problem of women not being able to prioritise their own health”.

Nanda added that consent is not always about sex and the more basic elements of our daily lives. It can be barging into someone’s room without knocking or posting a picture on Instagram with a friend and not seeking permission before.

Since consent is not just about sex, Swati Jagdish said, “I strongly believe that consent should start with nonsexual situations at home. And that’s exactly what me and my daughter we have been practicing here. For me, it starts with simple things like tickling her, for example. So, even in little things, the parents can make sure that they are following and respecting the child consent.”

Men And Consent

While speaking about consent, we often tend to overlook the fact that consent of men matters. Dr Yuvi said, “unfortunately, the conversation around men is not that much. But as you said, it’s quite important, because the laws revolve around them, right? When you talk about consent, all the laws are him and her.” He added that laws in India are not gender neutral.

Consent being a direct and literal knowledge of someone’s permission can often be accused of “taking away the charm” of sexual activity.  “We’ve been taught that sex should be hush hush. It should be more of a language of eye and language of your movements rather than the language of words,” Dr Yuvi said.

Breaking down the stigma of sex being an act of subtle expressions and indirect “signals”, Yuvi added, “Honestly, a lot of science and mental health and psychology and psychosocial analysis have actually found that communicative sex is even better.”

We know for a fact that consent can also be revoked and it should be perfectly okay. Swati Jagdish who is much known on Instagram for her videos of teaching her daughter about consent and boundaries, said, “I have told my daughter very clearly that if she is okay with something, she can give me a big yes enthusiastically. She is free to give a no also with the same enthusiasm and Mama will not feel bad about it. This is something that I repeatedly tell her.”