Sara Pascoe on Consent

I’ve just finished reading Sara Pascoe’s really brilliant book, Animal. Well, not actually “reading”; I listened to the audiobook, because a lot of my free time is in the car and literally reading while driving down the M3 is not very sensible.

I’d reccomend it to absolutely everyone. Honestly, I think something like this book should be part of the National Curriculum. 

And men: don’t be put off by the cover describing it as “The Autobiography of a Female Body”. The information and ideas it contains are just as relevant and important for men to absorb, maybe even more so.
Anyway, there are lots of difficult topics discussed but one thing that has been rattling around my head is what I think is a pretty genius piece of advice, for a particularly tricky area relating to sexual consent.

One of the greyest areas is when someone is conscious and apparently receptive but may actually be drunk, drugged or otherwise impaired. There is no getting away from the fact that, at this point, it is a judgment call whether the other person is truly in a state where they can consent to sex.

Some cases are pretty clear cut, but others are not so, and it’s very difficult to know where to draw the line, especially when maybe you’ve had a drink or two yourself. So, here’s Sara’s idea:

In the early 2000s, there was a political discussion about consent forms being a way to combat rape and, although they never really took off, there are loads of websites that do help you create them, if you’re interested.

But I thought: what about if we all had a virtual one in our heads? So that, if we are with a partner who is highly intoxicated, we ask ourselves:

If I was to get out a six-page legal agreement and ask them to read it and sign it, would they be able to? Would they be able to focus on the wording, hold a pen, flick through the pages?

If the answer is “no” then you, my friend, have found yourself a non-sexual partner to sleep next to respectfully.

Good night. And I hope they don’t puke on you.

I really think that if this kind of thought process was going on in people’s heads as a matter of course, the world would be a safer and better place.

[All rights and ownership to the above quote obviously belong to Sara Pascoe]

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