Dear Dr. J.
I am the mother of two teenagers. I see a lot of discussion around the topic of consent. What is consent, and how does this apply to adolescents and young adults.
Signed, Mama bear
The #MeToo Movement was established in 2006 to support survivors of sexual violence, more specifically Black women and girls, and other young women of color. The movement aims to bring awareness to the issue and to connect survivors with resources to foster healing and recovery. This campaign, like many others garnered international attention after the hashtag went viral; being acknowledged and advanced by women of all educational and economic backgrounds. The common thread weaving these women together? Either they themselves identified as a survivor of sexual violence, or they knew someone directly that had been.
As we end 2021, we are still hearing stories new and old, of women who were subjected to unwanted sexual interactions, and their accusers never brought to justice. I say this to say, consent is really very simple. If you want to do something to your partner, your friend, a family member or a stranger and they don’t want you to, STOP. If the other person doesn’t communicate that they want to engage in whatever activity it is that you are attempting, STOP. Even if your partner initially says yes, and they change they mind for any reason, STOP. This does not go just for women, and girls, it goes for men and boys, transmen and transwomen and non-binary people.
Any unwanted touching or sexual advances create an unsafe and traumatic environment. Sexual interactions should be a collaborative experience for all involved, not just the dominant, older or bigger person. Consent should be respected and not judged. If your partner didn’t agree to it, you had no right to do it to them. This is especially true when the partner perceives that they have no control over the situation or feel disempowered.
What this means for young people and adolescents is even more critical. An adolescent cannot consent to engage in a sexual relationship. In most states having a sexual relationship with an adolescent is illegal and considered statutory rape. In Texas, the age of consent is 17. Meaning that if someone is engaging in sexual acts with children younger than 17, they are committing a crime. Supporting young people in creating healthy and safe boundaries is a main tenet of their development.
Whether it is encouraging a young person to hug an aunt or uncle at a family function, or the random stranger complimenting a child’s hair while caressing it without their permission. Conversations around consent should and can happen at an early age. Children should have a sense of healthy body autonomy throughout their childhood years. From clothes that are comfortable, to how they greet family and friends, children need to understand what healthy and unhealthy touch is. Consent doesn’t just matter at a certain age and appearance, consent matters for all. So the next time you consider the forced lap Santa pictures that we all love, ask yourself and your child if it is okay.
Peace, love and orgasms,
If you or someone you know has been a victim of sexual assault, contact the National Sexual Assault Hotline at 1-800-656-4673
Do you have a sexual health related question you want answered? You know what to do. #goaheadandaskme. Send your questions and comments to firstname.lastname@example.org, or use the contact me form at https://drjsperkins.com/.
Column Disclaimer for Readers
The information contained in this column is for educational and informational purposes only. The information contained in this column is not intended as, and shall not be understood or construed as, medical or health advice. While the professional does address sexual health issues, the information provided in this column is not a substitute for medical or health advice from a professional who is aware of the facts and circumstances of your individual situation. The views and opinions expressed in Dear Dr. J. are of the author, and not necessarily those of Elite News.
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