Consent is an agreement.
It is an act of free will.
It is an energy exchange.
It is an act of faith.
To question consent is to question the most fundamental qualities of our social structures and relationships. Consent, in a confused cross cultural reality is an interesting conversation. Its blurred lines and blasé attitudes are largely misunderstood and the landscapes of consent are not ideas made for the courtroom, yet so often end up there.
What it comes down to, is do we respect people? And do we trust them?
Let’s start at the G spot… sex.
Welcome to a new era of sexual liberation. Where gender is not a physical quality, but an archetypal and energetic. Where we are not defined by labels but by the purest truth that we are simply, sexual beings. If we open enough to our essential nature, perhaps we would find ourselves orgasming from earthly beauty alone. Who is to box us in on what gives pleasure, when that realm is infinite and exploratory.
Sexuality evolves not only through individualisation and the privilege of freedom; but through conversation. Social media is catapulting a new era of sexual liberation into an interesting philosophical, religious and cultural meeting between generational beliefs. Where once sex was a hush hush conversation, it now can find its way onto the dinner table passed around with pepper. A little spicy, but nobody minds the heat.
Our generation is demanding more from our world and in return our world is demanding vulnerability from us. Only in vulnerability can we learn from one another. With the transparent and (moderately) confidential robe of technology, deep sexual desires are being unearthed and destigmatised; remoulding our understanding of ourselves and one another in the process. Conversation creates culture, and culture is defined by sex, love, relationship and spirit. But this is not a one shoe fits all. As a white, western woman; my voice is a flower amongst a forest of ideas. Each leaf, a different voice, a different ancestral tree; giving oxygen to our ideas of respect and consent.
What happens when a nudist meets a monk?
Last year on a trip to Nepal, off the road in a quiet landscape, my sisters and I swam in the cool blues of the Himalayas. Our hiking mama, an outspoken American woman with a tiny slim ex ballerina body, strode into the waters completely naked as our three hiking friends, young (westernised) Indian men became seriously triggered.
The uncomfortability of the interaction was both amusing and culturally inappropriate. In my reality, this Crone deserved the freedom to be in her skin embracing herself completely; inspiring my own complete and powerful expression in my nakedness. In a cultural reality, the shock discomfort of these men I put down to two things. Firstly, the new experience of seeing an elderly woman naked in public but also the perhaps sexual repression that it stirred.
What is the middle point of cultural appropriation and liberated empowerment?
We are powerless to our global evolution, whether we resist or fear change or embrace it; our cultures are shifting. Still, we are in this moment where empowerment is not a universal language, rather it is defined within religious and cultural beliefs.
Take for example the cultural effects of porn on Indian culture. You walk the streets of India and you will see most women adorned in their traditional attire, both sexes respect and honour a distinct religious view of the relationship between men and women. A white western woman walks the streets, in modestly western dress; yet the two associative realities are distinct. The white woman represents a pornographic reality, the Indian a religious reality. And the sexual impulses, associative desires and the language of consent becomes sticky.
Across the globe, we may pick up our phones and become accustomed to social media infiltrated by naked bodies, we may be a click away from porn; but we put down those screens and are back in widely different cultural realities. The translation of visual expressions of sexuality to experienced person to person sex, is not a clear path. Although we have a growing global culture, we still live in largely different realities. We each walk a different street, whose people see us in a different lense; moulded from a cultural and religious history with specific ideas around sexuality and gender. A woman whose research and teaching experience of consent once demonstrated to me a handshake example of how consent can be confused. A woman and man shake hands, the woman is uncomfortable and slowly pulls her hand away ~ the man thinks shes into him. The response that men understand as a clear ‘i’m not into you’ is to directly pull the hand away. Which feels rude, yet rude is a language we need to use to have boundaries in a society who are not attuned to their feelings. We have to feel our way into consent.
If women are having sex but won’t get wet, or a man can’t stay hard; is the body really giving its consent?
My generation, children of the baby boomers, are only a fingernail away from a reality where sexual consent was not a common conversation. Especially in marriage. For me, having grown up in privilege, my younger self easily dismissed the need to be a feminist or activist as they weren't direct necessities in my field of experience… so I thought.
Yet as I grew I learned to see beyond the shimmering light and into the sludgy undercurrents of simple statements degrading women or race or sexuality. I learned to see oppression where I once saw freedom, I learned to see inequality where I once saw equality, I learned to see deeper, higher and wider; I learned to see I was living in The World and not My World. And that I would never be free, until we were all free. I learned that as long as I live in an unhealed society, part of me will remain unhealed.
Consent is not just a conversation about sexuality. It is a conversation about the deep distrust and betrayal we face in our relationships, and our society. When the law endorses illegitimate claims and lies as the political pathway to making a consensus or a government we are laid to question; what is True Consent? They appeal to our empathy only to use the power of the collective ‘choice’ to do exactly the opposite of what is the collective good.
It is no wonder we have such a difficult time trusting people, letting our guard down and living vulnerably, intimately and with faith in the good of the world. Even the most conditioned folk are seeing through the veil, as politicians are widely accepted racist, sexist, homophobic assholes. Today we can see the lies, but still we are tied to the system from which they are built. We have centuries of betrayal in leadership, the Australian government is built on the betrayal of the first people. Australia is in pre-school for what is respectfully consensual, in terms of language and use of Aboriginal land. In a healed culture, every building and business would ask permission to live, do ceremony, birth and inhabit a land that was stolen. Pathways for learning would open and both cultures would begin to heal.
We live in a system that supports disempowered choice. We have so many choices and so little education around them. We are not taught in our ‘free education’ how to navigate the system we are bound to. Or the fundamentals of how to save money, buy a home, grow food, create a community. Our idea of election consent is a cell in which we live. Life wants to be so naturally simple, humans want to live without financial burden, with their loved ones, doing their craft.
Humans are good people with a bad education and we’re all students in the school of love.