On Oct. 5, 2018, theSenate Judiciary Committee voted to move forward with the nomination of Judge Brett Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court, despite Dr. Christine Blasey Ford's allegations of sexual assault (which Kavanaugh has denied) following a three-day long FBI investigation. On Saturday, Oct. 5, 2018, Kavanaugh was sworn into the United States Supreme Court, a position he will presumably hold for the rest of his life. The nationally televised hearings have not only inspired many women and men to come forward and speak out about their experiences with sexual assault and harassment, but it has also launched a much-needed conversation in the social sphere regarding consensual sex. What happened on the Senate floor draws a distinct parallel to the internalized fears verbalized in homes across the country: Manymen and women alike remain unclear about what consent does and does not like in practice. Butgiven all of the stories that have been publicly shared about assault and rape, and the discussions these stories have started, what remains confusing about consent?
In anepisode of VICE's HBO Special Report, which aired on Sept. 29, 2018 and is aptly named "Consent," sexologist and sexpert Michelle Hope spoke with a panel of millennials about the gray areas. Hope read out a sexual scenario and each panelist stated whether on not they considered the act to be consensual. A particular scenario, which painted a woman performing oral sex on a man — whom she had met and had sex with the night before — while he was sleeping, caused a stir amongst panelists and audience members alike. Was their interaction consensual? A disagreement arose in the room, the tension palpable. One thing grew clear: definingconsent does not provide a one-size-fits all solution for giving consent in real-life circumstances. But why is it so confusing to understand?
"I work a great deal with dating singles — and men in particular — who are extremely confused about the issue of sexual consent," licensed psychotherapist and relationships expert Dr. Gary Brown tells Elite Daily. "It is completely understandable that men and womenare sincerely struggling with this very confusing issue. They need to be more open about when and how they want to be intimate."
In recent weeks, there has been an outpouring of discussion among American women about consent, what it means to give it, to not give it, to be ignored, and to have your agency for consent taken away. Our society teaches women from a young age about giving their consent, but it does not place the same responsibility onteachingmen how to properly ask for it. Movements such as #MeToo (the movement, which was founded by Tarana Burke in 2006, just celebrated one year since the groundbreaking Harvey Weinstein exposé), and #TimesUp, are the result of this discrepancy. But the true consequence lies in the fact that it has now become a woman's duty to educate the men in her life about consent — and the weight of that responsibility on one gender is not only unfair, but unrealistic.
If you're not sure you have the ability to thoughtfully and respectfully understand what someone is telling you, that's a signal that you should not ask someone to have sex with you.
Consent is an issue that concerns and affects everyone, not just women — and our culture surrounding consent is only going to evolve if men are actively re-considering how consent plays a role in their own sexual encounters, not solely from a woman's point of view. Doing so provides more opportunity formen and women to engage in thoughtful conversations about what consent looks like for them.
So, in order to further the conversation so that the dialogue will no longer be one-sided, Elite Daily asked seven men about the areas of consent they continue to find confusing. In order to better understand where the lines literally blur for men in many instances, we also asked experts to respond to each of the responses in an effort to define those gray areas once and for all.