Tea, Cake, and Consent

Consent has become a bit of a buzzword around sex and sexual assault in the last 5 or so years.  Generally, there seems to be a consensus that consent means not just not saying “no,” but an active choice of saying “yes.”  But decisions based on actions and body language are not as clear.  The following video was made to clarify consent.

The tea video has been critiqued by some as not addressing some of the more nuanced contexts and interactions that happen around sex.  Instead, Cathy Young argues consent is more like a piece of cake.

“So, let’s say you’re visiting a friend and she asks if you’d like some cake and you say, ‘You know, maybe I would’. So she puts the cake on the table, cuts off a slice and puts it on your plate, and then you think of all the extra calories (or maybe you see that it’s a kind of cake you don’t like), and say, ‘You know… thanks, but I don’t think I should’. No one needs a consent class to understand that if your friend grabs a piece of cake and starts forcibly shoving it in your mouth, they’re committing assault. Shoving cake in someone’s mouth is generally a no-no, unless you’re at a wedding and that person is your newly minted spouse. Ditto for threatening someone with bodily harm unless they eat the damn cake. That’s illegal, you know.

But suppose your friend says, ‘Oh come on, just one slice. It’s really delicious!’ And you say, ‘okay, sure’. Or maybe you keep saying, ‘No, I really don’t feel like it’, and your friend keeps pushing, coaxing and wheedling you until you finally say yes. Maybe she uses guilt: she slaved for hours baking that cake just for you, or made the rounds of a dozen bakeries trying to find the perfect cake! Maybe she tells you you’ve ruined her whole evening, or just sulks and pouts visibly. Finally, you agree to eat the damn cake just to get her off your back. And maybe then she badgers you into having another slice. Or two.”

And though discussions of consent are becoming more commonplace, there are also considerations complicating the idea of consent in a misogynist culture.


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