Relationships and consent: First of all, consent is not complicated and anything other than a clear and affirmed yes is close to a no. While many would like to argue the relevance of signals, we know that hints and signals often lead to confusions.
Are we really that naive and irresponsible to make the other person go through something they don’t really like just because we are not sure if they hate it?
When it comes to relationships, the dynamic is completely different. The person trying to wrongfully invade our personal space is no stranger but someone we like to be with. Well, most of the time if we exclude the toxic relationships from the discussion. We have on many occasion given them permission to hold us close, fulfil our desires and make us feel loved. But the real conundrum is when the same person starts demanding or in the worst case forcing the same things when we are not up for it.
Relationships and consent: Legal battles
We still don’t have laws against marital rape and such issues between unmarried couples are even more complicated when it comes to law. Court proceedings in so many cases serve as examples of how such issues are argued legally. Most of the time, lawyers of the accused put forth the argument that the survivor had consented to a sexual relationship with the accused in the past.
However, recently a case against journalist Varun Hiremath showed promise. When Hiremath’s lawyer told the court that the rape-accused journalist and the complainant woman had been in a sexual relationship for long, the judge immediately rejected the argument. The court made its stand clear by saying, “previous sexual experiences with any person shall not be relevant on the issue of such consent or the quality of consent.” So the law does get it? Then why some individuals can’t accept the fact that just because something felt pleasurable on other occasions doesn’t mean it won’t feel forced ever?
No matter how familiar or how much of a stranger crosses that line, people who have been through it can testify that the awful feeling of being touched against the will remains the same. One doesn’t even have to commit the ‘gravest’ crime because even an unwanted peck on the cheek feels just as horrible.
No matter how familiar or how much of a stranger crosses that line, people who have been through it can testify that the awful feeling of being touched against the will remains the same.
Is it really unfair to say no?
A lot of us have been asked to be “fair” and not say no to someone who has been kind to us. We have also heard people counting the efforts they made for us just so they can persuade us to do something against our will. ” I travelled so far to see you and now you won’t even let me kiss you?”, ” How can you not be in the mood when you know I worked so hard to make this moment happen,” and so many bizarre things are said to make the other feel guilty. The bitter truth is that most of us fall for that and tell ourselves that we did it to make the other person feel good. But is that good enough for us? Is it really worth it?
It is important to know that we don’t owe anyone that kind of liberty. While thanking people for being kind to us is one thing, letting them take advantage is another. Moreover, if someone tries to always get something in return for their kindness, are they really kind?
The hard part to know is that offenders aren’t always dangerous looking, strangers or of bad character and reputation. They are sometimes kind, thoughtful and even loving. This doesn’t mean that they also respect boundaries or give importance to their partner’s consent.
The views expressed are the author’s own.