The subject of consent is one that I feel extremely passionate about. What is consent? And under what circumstances do we consent to sex? Can consent ever be taken for granted? Should consent always be vocalised, or can you assume consent? I think this is still the area that a lot of people (*ahem* read men) still have challenges with. I’m thinking back to a recent conversation with two men, and one of them shared this experience with me:
My sister’s friend came over to visit her, but she wasn’t around and I was home alone. We got to chatting, and then started making out. I put my left hand in her jeans and started to rub her clit but whenever I tried to take them off she hit my hand away. I tried a couple of times and got the same reaction. Eventually I gave up. Later she told me, “you could have forced me you know”.
So what was going on in this particular situation? I wasn’t there but this is my reading. Women have been socialised not to give it up. Told time and time again that “sex is bad”, “women who sleep around are whores”, “kaneshie (insert any locality) mattress”, “everybody chop am”. If these are the constant messages you get from society why would you want to readily consent to sex? You don’t want the guy to think you are a whore/kaneshie mattress/woman that everyone has chopped do you? Unless of course you are a woman like Nana Darkoa who has learnt that it really doesn’t matter what you do, people will judge you regardless. And even if you haven’t slept with x, he will still go and tell the whole world that he fucked you behind the gutter of your house. And so you need to be you, and do what works for you. But afterall that is all easier said than done, because the truth is there are still so many consequences to being you. These men that I had the conversation with admitted that what they look for in a woman they would shag is different from what they would look for if they wanted to sign a contract (i.e marry) someone. And in a society where women (and men) are under constant pressure to get married this also plays into women and girls ability to negotiate sexual relationships with full agency.
On Friday and Saturday myself and some of my fav people in Accra will be participating in workshops on the subject of consent and sex. Join Esther Armah, Eli Tetteh and Kinna Likimani at the University of Ghana on Friday 25th November from 10am – 12 noon, and myself, Jessica Horn and Kobby Graham at Zylophone Media opposite Mensvic Hotel in East Legon. These workshops are being led and organised by Nana Akosua Hanson as part of her ‘Let’s Talk Consent‘ series.
Will we see you there?