There's been an undeniable shift in recent years when it comes to the way people date. (That's why your mom gets stranger-danger concerns over Tinder and keeps suggesting you "hook up" with your neighbor for coffee.) But when it comes to the bedroom, has anything really changed? A new study says yes — Gen Z asks for consent more than millennials do, according to a 2020 survey conducted by SKYN by Lifestyles of 2,000 adults ages 18 - 39.
Here's the good news: 66% of Gen Z respondents say they frequently ask their partner for consent before engaging in sexual activities. While this rate leaves room for improvement — consent is mandatory 100% of the time — the survey found that no other generation does it better. Whereas 62% of folks 18 -29 ask for consent regularly, only 52% of people 30 - 39 do the same.
Though in an ideal world, people of all ages would be directly communicating with their partners, it makes sense that people who have grown up in the throes of the #MeToo movement and #TimesUp are more vocal about consent.
As Ava, a 20-year-old college student, previously told Elite Daily, the visibility of survivor stories have inspired her and her peers to demand and expect verbal consent. “Our generation has actually been lucky, thanks to the courageous women who have spoken openly about their experiences with consent. The conversation and attitudes on college campuses have completely shifted. [The concept of] consent is now ingrained into most college campuses."
While younger folks' tendency to ask for consent is undoubtedly a good thing, it's important to consider the intent behind these conversations. As Elite Daily reported in 2019, some young men might ask for consent primarily to avoid consequences after a hookup. In a survey of 142 college students conducted at the time, Elite Daily found that 39% believe men are asking for consent because they're afraid of being publicly accused of sexual assault, 17% think it's because men are afraid of "accidentally" committing sexual assault, and 5% say men fear being publicly shamed.
"I know from conversations with my guy friends that if I even mention that a girl they hooked up with was really drunk, they jump in fear of being '#MeToo’d' rather than jumping in fear of having hurt the feelings of the girl they were with," Faith, a 20-year-old college student, told Elite Daily. "Men are 1,000% more nervous about consent as it pertains to them and their reputation, rather than how the actual act affects the woman."
The more educated people are about consent, the better, says Donna Freitas, author of Consent On Campus: A Manifesto. "Consent is literally an act of concern for one's partner's well-being," Freitas previously told Elite Daily. "I'd like to see us teach consent as an overall attitude of respect, concern, and care for their desires, their participation in whatever intimacy is occurring, and for their overall well-being."
Regardless of people's motivations for talking about consent, it's incredibly important that these conversations are happening. The more people can talk openly and honestly about sex, the better it is — for everyone.