Valentine's Day is not about giving roses; but about consent and respect

Yeshna VOY

It's 14th of February and all the stores are filled with red and pink candy, balloons, flowers, and teddy bears. It's that time of the year when we are celebrating love, but everything is not a bed of roses.

Valentines' day is about love, but it's also about having a safe, healthy, emotional and physical relationship with someone. It's therefore VERY important to discuss consent and promoting a Consent culture  which “is a culture in which asking for consent is normalized and condoned in popular culture [and] believing that you and your partner(s)  have the right over your own bodily autonomies and understanding that each of you know what is best for yourselves.”

Consent is as easy as FRIES and it is of paramount important to teach kids consent from a very young age. 

Consent is Freely given, Reversible, Informed, Enthusiastic and Specific. 

Freely given: Consenting is a choice you make without pressure, manipulation, or under the influence of drugs or alcohol.  With regards to alcohol, kindly note that "if a person is unconscious or their judgment is seriously impaired by alcohol or drugs, legally they are unable to give consent".

If someone pressure you or guilt into accepting, then there is no real consent. Similarly, just because someone pays you an expensive dinner does not mean that you owe them sex.

Silence is not consent. 

Reversible: Consent can be withdrawn anytime. Anyone can change their mind about what they feel like doing, anytime. Even if you done it before, or you said earlier, you can change your mind and say no anytime. It's your body, and you decide. Your partner has to respect that. 

Informed. You can only consent to something if you have the full story. For example, if someone says they’ll use a condom and then they don’t, there isn’t full consent, and that's rape. 

Enthusiastic:  When it comes to sex, you should only do stuff you WANT to do, not things that you feel you’re expected to do or that you owe to them.

Specific. Saying yes to one thing (like accepting a drink) doesn’t mean you’ve said yes to others (like having sex).

Consent is NOT: (Source: RAINN)

  • Assuming that wearing certain clothes, flirting, or kissing is an invitation for anything more
  • Someone being under the legal age of consent, as defined by the state
  • Someone being incapacitated because of drugs or alcohol
  • Pressuring someone into sexual activity by using fear or intimidation
  • Assuming you have permission to engage in a sexual act because you’ve done it in the past
  • Your partner reacts negatively (with sadness, anger or resentment) if you say “no” to something, or don’t immediately consent.
  • Your partner ignores your wishes and don’t pay attention to nonverbal cues that could show you’re not consenting (ex: pulling/pushing away).

Consent is very important in building relationships. Consent is a thin line between rape/sexual assault and sex. When it comes to love, we often ignore red flags, and compromise with our self-respect, bodily autonomy. We often do not want to leave behind toxic relationships; not realizing that relationships are already broken the minute there is no consent.