Do you know what consent means?
Like, what it really means in practical terms?
Chances are lots of Squamish folks don’t.
A recent Canadian Women’s Foundation study found that 55% of people in Canada do not fully understand consent when it comes to sexual activity.
“This gap can increase the risk of unwanted sexual activity and assault, and is a clear sign that Canadians desperately need more education on the meaning of consent,” said Anuradha Dugal, director of violence prevention with the foundation, in a news release.
Younger generations are more knowledgeable in this regard.
The same study found 52% of those under the age of 54 understand it, while only 34% of those above that age get it.
“It’s not a surprise to me because I feel that younger people not only are having these conversations much more and navigating this ... but also, I think they care about justice. I think they care about consent. And I think that’s a really hopeful piece,” said Andrea Gunraj, vice president of public engagement at the Foundation, adding that older folks have to take the lead from youth.
This matters because more than 11 million Canadians have been physically or sexually assaulted since the age of 15, according to Stats Can. This represents 39% of women and 35% of men.
It behooves us to remove cases resulting from a lack of understanding about consent.
So what is it?
According to the provincial definition, consent is:
• A freely given enthusiastic yes
• Ongoing, continuously discussed
• Can be taken away at any time
It is not when someone:
• Repeatedly asks until they get the answer they want
• Someone uses their power or authority to manipulate your answer
• When you are intoxicated or incapacitated
“It’s about saying yes or initiating or enthusiastic participation; it’s body language; it’s voice. It’s also continually saying yes ... during sexual activity. So just because you said yes, before doesn’t mean that you say yes now. Those two elements are very important for us to say that consent is valid. And for us individually, we have to really prioritize that we need to have both of these elements in place to feel certain that we’re going forward with consent,” said Gunraj.
It is awkward in our culture to talk about these things, but the bottom line is that not talking about it is dangerous for all involved.