The Vermont Cynic

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Consent is not sexy, but it is mandatory

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Consent is not sexy, but it is mandatory

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Since it is such a hot topic on college campuses, I can say with certainty that everyone has heard of the word “consent.”

By The Free Dictionary’s definition consent means “permission for something to happen or agreement to do something.”

Generally, I have noticed that consent is referenced to as the moment of agreement between participants who are about to engage in sexual activity. Individuals are encouraged to obtain consent before making physical advances.

Although I absolutely agree that there should be a distinct moment before people agree to have sex, I believe sexualizing consent is selling it short of its importance to the harmony of life and to the well being of individuals. I seek to change the conversation from consent being a precursor to sexual activity to consent being a way of life.

Think about trees in a forest; when a tree grows, it grows in the direction of the sunlight. However, this is not a linear process, which is why trees are jagged and curved.

They live in the same space as other trees, who are also seeking the light. When one tree starts to steal the light away from another tree, the tree curves away and follows a new direction to get the light.

The tree that stole the light does not continue to follow
or possess the other tree, but rather continues to grow towards the direction of the light. There is no malice, there is simply light-seeking, and this is why trees can exist in a forest in perfect harmony.

I believe that people should be more like trees. It is okay to seek light, the same way it is okay to try to pursue friendships and growth with people.

However, when someone curves away, or in any way insinuates that their light has been stolen, it is pertinent to harmony to let them continue to grow and find their light. Imposing oneself on anyone, in any way, is wrong, and goes against the very nature of harmony. This is where the idea of consent comes into play.

No one should ever feel like they have no option to grow away from a circumstance that is blocking their light. But no one should ever have to feel like they even need to speak up or exert force in any way in order to achieve this freedom.

Consent should be in the mindset of every single person who seeks to interact with anyone on any level.

If one is going to approach someone on the dance floor, instead of putting someone in a situation when they even need to say, “no, leave me alone,” approach that person with the mindset of consent. Be receptive of the way they are feeling, their body language and their facial expressions.

If one is truly living within the lens of consent, they won’t even need to say “leave me alone” if they don’t want to dance, it will naturally be understood.

And even if it cannot be read immediately, at the very least, respect when someone expresses disinterest. It is nothing personal — the person who does not want to dance is simply perusing his or her personal light.

And you must now find pursue your own light in a different direction. And this understanding of one another will foster harmony and mutually positive feelings, because it will reflect the respect of each individual’s pursuit of happiness and growth.

Instead of reducing one another to “things” that can be possessed, rethink one another as individuals who seek to achieve harmony within themselves and with others. We are all on the quest to achieve optimal growth.

This notion of consent extends further than the realm of sexuality. In all interactions, when someone begins to curve away to find their light in any way, be receptive and allow for growth, just as trees do in nature.

If someone wants you to leave them alone, then leave them alone. Do not try and possess anyone or impose on anyone’s light.

Simply grow and find the light for yourself, while respecting the path of those around you, and by doing this you will achieve peace and harmony both internally and externally.

Consent starts long before the bedroom, and I believe it is time to change the conversation so that we can all grow to our maximum capacities as one functioning ecosystem.

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The University of Vermont's Independent Voice Since 1883
Consent is not sexy, but it is mandatory