A common rhetoric within the realm of activism against sexual assault is the misusage of the phrase "Consent is sexy!" We see it on billboards, we see it in videos, and we see it in campaigns similar to ours. In the most recent months, it seems as if we can't bring up the topic of consent and rape culture without someone proclaiming consent as a "sexy" idea, as if that's supposed to be the selling point.
At Project Consent, we disagree with the sentiment that consent has to be sexy.
We understand the purpose of the argument and even believe it is well-intended, if ultimately misleading and harmful. Talking about consent, of any nature, is an incredibly difficult and off-putting task. Sex education is failing, rape culture is pervasive, and no one really knows how to bring up consent without feeling like they're entering a realm of confusion. Words get thrown in the air and ideas get misinterpreted. It happens but it needs to be resolved and, in this case, obliterated. We would like to take this opportunity to remind ourselves, as well as others, that mistakes can be made even with the best of intentions and the best thing to do is learn from them. Activism is nothing without the constant strive for education.
Truth be told, we don't know who started "Consent is sexy" and it doesn't really matter to us either way. We just want to shed some light on all the reasons why the term should never exist in the first place, much less leading the push to end rape culture. So, without further ado, here are some arguments on why it's time to put “Consent is Sexy” concept to rest:
Consent isn't sexy; it's necessary.
Look, guys. We get it. Sex sells. It's the foreground of capitalism and every marketing scheme to exist. But the thing about consent is that it shouldn't have to be something that has to be sold like underwear. Sexy is debatable; sexy is an idea that you can pick up when you're in the mood. Consent is none of those things. Consent is an inherent right that is too often disregarded. Consent is not a privilege, mood, or an abstract concept that can be interpreted in a hundred ways. Consent is a necessity and sexiness shouldn't be a factor when promoting consent.
Sexual assault is not about sex.
Contrary to popular belief, sexual assault has very little to do with sex itself. Sexual assault stems from a place of violence and dominance. "Consent is sexy" frames the argument as "sexy" being the opposite to sexual abuse but the truth is that "sexiness" has no place in either side. Sexual assault ultimately boils down to physical harm against another human being and, considering the magnitude of the crime, sexiness is the last thing on either agenda.
Consent shouldn't have to be sexy.
To put it bluntly: I don't care if my consent is sexy. I don't care if my "no" is considered to be sexually appealing. My right to refuse doesn't have to cater to your standard of what sexy is. The words "sexy" and "consent" should never be thrown together in a phrase to promote the idea that human beings have automatic rights to their own body. By implying that "Consent is sexy!", it automatically takes on the assumption that consent has to be sexy in order to be present. That's the last message we want to send. Consent doesn't have to be anything because it's a goddamn human right. Can consent be sexy? Sure, I suppose. Consent can mean a variety of things as long as it's present in the first place. But sexiness should never be the leading point in the push for consent culture.