In 2023 Australia will embark on a nationwide consent education program in schools hoping to reduce sexual assault and help develop better communication skills around sexual encounters.
Yet, it seems that every attempt to educate people on consent ends in misleading oversimplification.
For instance, the Thames Valley Police in the UK released their “Tea and Consent” video in 2016.
The video description reads, “If you’re still struggling with consent just imagine instead of initiating sex you’re making them a [cuppa].”
In Australia, the “Milkshake” video was pulled early in 2021 due to concerns over adding confusion to consent. Both videos addressed a serious topic but reduced it to cringey metaphors.
“We must be honest; Generation Z has a vastly different concept of sex and includes actions, behaviours and toys that’d make Hugh Heffner blush.”
Consent hasn’t changed, but to what people consent has.
“Consent education” often disguises a hidden subtext that as long as both/all the parties involved “consent,” then “anything” and “everything” is acceptable in a relativistic culture with no reference to the concept of human dignity.
We must be honest; Generation Z has a vastly different concept of sex and includes actions, behaviours and toys that’d make Hugh Heffner blush.
Where does Gen Z get the idea of what sort of blushing behaviours are ok?
Britney, Rihanna and Lady Gaga all have songs featuring mainstream BDSM references.
The HBO teen drama Euphoria, is heralded for “exploring modern sexuality” featuring numerous full-frontal male nudities in Season 1 alone. Set in a high school, it features sex across the so-called “gender spectrum,” underage-sex hook-ups with older men (normalised), drug use and BDSM.
The main character does a voice-over in one scene noting, “I know your generation relied on flowers and father’s permission. But it’s 2019, nudes are the currency of love. So, stop shaming us.”
The award-winning graphic novel now found in many middle school libraries across the US, Gender Queer by Maia Kobabe, features graphic visuals of sexual acts and other disturbing behaviour: the main character masturbates while driving, is encouraged by her sister to engage in bizarre sexual activities, and is deep into gay porn and other erotica.
The text is brimming with other sexual acts and descriptions too graphic to mention here.
“Yet, with Gen Z’s anything-goes attitude toward sex, I’m hard pressed to believe that consent education will be little more than an ACME product purchased by Wiley Coyote when it comes to helping teens navigate the minefield of unmarried sexual expectations.”
A Colorado School Board deemed the book “inappropriate” for their adult meeting when a concerned parent tried to read passages from it.
Consent education typically encourages Gen Z to simply consider what they might be “comfortable with”, as if writing a Christmas wish list. Yet some sexual behaviours have become so “normal” for Gen Z that they don’t even know it’s not normal.
Yet, with Gen Z’s anything-goes attitude toward sex, I’m hard pressed to believe that consent education will be little more than an ACME product purchased by Wiley Coyote when it comes to helping teens navigate the minefield of unmarried sexual expectations.
At most, consent education will be a band-aid applied to a gaping wound needing more robust medical treatment – treatment which must first begin with a healthy understanding of who it is that is consenting: a human person with dignity made for more than pleasure.