As a male sex worker for women, consent – giving it, getting it, and ensuring that it is still there – is something that I have to do with every client, especially when I don’t know them well, or with women with disabilities who may not be able to communicate effectively.
I also go out of my way with women who have little or no experience – or sometimes bad experiences – with sex and consent to try to help them learn how to ask for what they want and reassure them that they are allowed to say no, to withdraw consent for things that they may not want.
I believe that I do this well and provide a service that is safe and respectful.
That this is even worthy of note indicates just how big a problem “consent”, its practice, and our understanding of it is in this country.
So I am delighted to see (via this article – https://www.abc.net.au/news/2022-08-29/consent-education-mandatory-australia/101375564) that the teaching of consent is to be federally mandated in all schools in Australia.
This is exactly how we make our society a better place. We teach our children in school and it creates generational change. Over time the young people who have learned what consent means, how to ask for it, and how to give it become the majority and “the old ways” die a natural death.
Some people fear this sort of education by the state and will claim that it’s the job of parents to teach these sorts of values. To that I say “You can’t teach what you don’t know”. Which doesn’t mean that all parents don’t necessarily understand consent – just that knowing something that you probably learned more by watching what other people did than actually being shown isn’t a great basis for teaching that thing effectively.
We very obviously have issues with consent in our society – I literally hear it from women regularly – and I for one am very happy that we are taking real steps toward addressing it.
It won’t be an easy road though. As mentioned in the linked article teachers involved in this kind of education need to be taught themselves about how to provide it, how to be sensitive to the impacts that what they are teaching may have on students who have suffered abuse for instance.
It’s a complicated problem that requires sophisticated thinking and solutions. It won’t be resolved over night, but every year that students receive this training we will be making a better society and giving kids the chance to live better, healthier, safer lives.