By Priyanka Patnaik

The Importance of consent in a relationship

Recognizing and respecting the importance of consent in a relationship is paramount for fostering healthy and respectful interactions between partners. The media has been one of India’s greatest cultural assets. But, to date the industry has not been able to grasp the concept of consent, thus churning out stories after stories that teach nothing about consent to its viewers. Art is a reflection of society and vice versa. We tend to copy what we see on screen consciously or otherwise. In a hugely patriarchal country like India, the dichotomy of the oppressed and the oppressor has always existed, and this is something where the conversation around consent emerges too. If we take into consideration the sexual binaries, i.e., male or female, the female’s job is to satisfy the male fantasies, even if it is against her wishes. She is seen as the sexually available “other” that exists just for the male gaze. Heinous societal problems like rape, marital rape, molestation, and their likes emerge from such values. Let’s understand the basics first-

What is Consent in a relationship?

Consent must be a free and voluntary agreement to participate in a sexual/ close-to-sexual (touching etc.) activity. Consent does not exist only in relationships but in every sphere of human life. If your friend has bought a new dress and you wear it without their permission/ consent, they are bound to be mad at you and feel uncomfortable with your decision. In the same way, in a relationship consenting and asking for consent are about setting your personal boundaries and respecting those of your partner. Both people must agree to sex, every single time, for it to be consensual.

Remembering consent is very easy, just remember FRIES-

1. Freely given- Consenting is a choice you make without pressure, manipulation, or under the influence of drugs or alcohol.

2. Reversible- Anyone can change their mind about what they feel like doing, anytime. Even if you’ve done it before, and even if you’re both naked in bed.

3. 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.

4. 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.

5. Specific- Saying yes to one thing (like going to the bedroom to make out) doesn’t mean you’ve said yes to others (like having sex).

Why is consent important in a relationship?

Two adults in any sort of relationship (romantic or otherwise) will value consent because a “Yes will always mean a Yes” and “A No will always mean a No” in a relationship of equals.

Consent = open + honest (communication)

We hear again and again that the way to making your relationship last is through communication. It works best when two individuals effectively take part in it. You can’t settle on choices for your lover, since it will prompt them to feel cornered and may even become the sole reason behind them losing interest in you.

It’s just plain obvious, we as a whole need our lover to consider what we say. This is significantly more important when we talk about consent. On the off chance that you disregard your lover’s ‘no’, it will just cause them to accept that you couldn’t care less about what they need. At some point or another, this will stretch out to different circles of life, and before you even know it, the time to part will arrive.

Relationships should be a safe space

Don’t we wish to be with somebody who has a sense of security, permitting us the space to be vulnerable with them? All things considered; a relationship that does not have the concept of consent instilled in it does the reverse. It can end up being an awful encounter. At the point when wants transform into demands that don’t take no for an answer, it can make what should be wonderful very traumatic. One may wind up feeling constrained, violated, and imprisoned in the relationship; and that is not reasonable by any means.

The ongoing horror of daily news reports of rape around the country is a wake-up call for everyone to get a quick lesson on consent.

How to ask for consent?

Asking for consent can feel a little weird. This is especially true if you are new to the field of relationships or sex.

Here are some easy ways to ask for consent-

1. “Do you want to…?”

2. “Can I…?”

3. “Are you comfortable…?”

4. “Do you like…?”

5. “Is this, ok?”

6. “Do you want to keep going?”

7. “Are you still into this?”

Apart from these verbal consent cues, we should also recognize and respect non-verbal ones.

Here are some ways that a person’s body language can let you know whether or not they are comfortable with what you are doing together-

1. Pushing you away

2. Uncomfortable or painful facial expressions

3. Not responding to your touch

4. Stiffening muscles

5. Turning away from you or hiding their face

6. Holding their arms tightly around their body

Everybody has the option to say ‘no’ at any point in time, and it makes the relationship (no matter what kind) worthwhile if you respect your partner’s wishes. Consent is Cool!

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