Getting Clear About Consent With Teens
Written by Martina Hughes
Many of you may have or know someone with teenagers, and in Australia you have likely heard about the milkshake and consent video that the Australian Education Department had made recently in an attempt to educate teenagers about consent.
For those of you fortunate enough to have not seen it, you can watch it here.
In short, it’s terrible, it’s insulting to the intelligence of our teenagers, it lacks clarity and direction due to the overly diluted nature of the message.
It fails to support our teens to safely navigate consent in an intimate setting.
When I first watched it last week, I was lost for words.
One thing I do appreciate is they are trying to broaden the topic of consent to be applicable across all relationship choices and decisions. This is excellent. But trying to capture such a broad array of topics in one video has failed. Epically.
A clearer approach would be to break these down into smaller segments specific to each topic.
What we really need is the education and space to be having real conversations with our teens about sex.
Our teenagers need healthy and supportive spaces to understand consent. Beyond just saying yes or no.
If a teenager doesn’t understand the value of her/his body, if they don’t have healthy self-worth and self-value, they may say yes to things that were not okay for them, or that they regret in the future.
Giving them space to understand some of the nuances and depth of sexual activity is much more empowering and will make them significantly more engaged in the topic of consent.
Potential conversations about sex include:
• Is it the right time and reasons for you to engage sexually? If so what are they? What is important to you?
• Sex is sharing your life force with another person. Do you understand the potential effects that may have on your connection with this person?
• Yes it can be intensely pleasurable, but also highly clumsy and awkward. Do you know how to share that experience with another? Do you have the tools and skills necessary to have that experience and conversation?
• Do you know the difference between a casual experience and one with someone you love and care for?
• Did you know there are ways of being with your own value and worth that will greatly enhance your experience?
Personally, I am still a fan of the cup of tea and consent video made in the UK some years ago.
Why? Because it’s clever, witty and very easy to watch. In watching it, I can very easily switch out the word tea for sex and the message is clear.
Imagine how our early sexual experiences could have been different if we had known more about our self-worth, the incredible gift that our body is (to ourselves and another), how to engage with our own pleasure and how to say a wholehearted yes or no - safely.
So many of the sexual conversations in our society right now are creating more fear and anxiety.
Now is the time to be having REAL conversations about sex.
Let’s support this current generation of teenagers to have a more empowered experience of sexuality than the previous generations.
With Love, Martina
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