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‘Worrying’ Numbers Of You Don’t Think It’s Okay To Withdraw Sexual Consent In Commonplace Situations

Who hasn’t found themselves glued to the developments of the #metoo movement? And why? Well, sexual consent is something that affects all of us at some point in our lives.

But it would seem – as shown in research released this week – that public understanding of sexual consent, is more than a bit amiss.

The findings, from the Family Planning Association, have revealed that almost half (47%) of young people don’t think you can say no to sex, if you’re already naked.

And if you’re in a bedroom but fully clothed? Then 9% think that is still grounds to follow through, regardless.

Natika Halil, chief executive of the FPA, described the findings as ‘worrying’. Which, ultimately, they are. Particularly when you add to the mix that 9% of young people also think you can’t say no to sex if you’ve:

  • Been bought dinner or drinks
  • Already kissed the person
  • Have had sex with that person before


    In the study, which surveyed more than 2,000 people about knowledge and experiences of consent – the theme of the FPA’s Sexual Health Week 2018 – it was also revealed that 45% of young people (18-24 year olds) learned about sexual consent from TV and film, rather than a trusted source on sexual health and relationships education or an accurate representation of real life.

    And a mere 13%, would feel comfortable discussing consent with a partner. A partner.

    Using this information, the sexual health charity has provided examples of films where they think a healthy illustration of consent is shown, and some where they believe it’s not. For a film to pass the consent test, they had to:

    • Show consent being verbally given
    • Demonstrate no coercion of any kind
    • Show no characters as drunk or on drugs
    • Contain no underage characters
    • Show characters giving verbal and non-verbal cues that they wanted to actually have sex


      As if anyone ever needs an excuse to retreat beneath a duvet and indulge in a bit of easy-viewing Disney. But now, it has an education purpose built in. The FPA lauded Frozen with depicting consent right when Kristoff exclaims, ‘I could kiss you…I mean I’d like to. May I, may we?’ Anna then kissed him on the cheek and confirms, ‘We may.’

      Meanwhile, cult teen favourite 10 Things I Hate About You was also praised for when Patrick Verona (Heath Ledger) refuses to kiss Kat Stratford (Julia Stiles) because she’s too drunk to give consent – evident by her dancing on tables to ‘Hypnotise’ and banging her head on a chandelier.


      It goes without saying that 007 was, at some point, going to take a hit. ‘There’s a very uncomfortable scene [in Goldfinger] that sees James Bond corner Pussy Galore in a barn,’ the FPA says. ‘He prevents her from leaving, throwing her to the floor and wrestling to pin her down. Pussy tells him she’s not interested, physically fights him off, and does her best to avoid his kiss before relenting.’

      And what about The Notebook – the ultimate love story, no? No. ‘In trying to convince Ally to go on a date with him, Noah uses coercive tactics. He is persistent and pressuring when he climbs a Ferris wheel at the fairground and threatens to let go if she doesn’t go on a date with him, despite her previous disinterest. This dramatic gesture and inability to take “no” as an answer – minus Ryan Gosling as distraction – is actually harassment and coercion.’


      Following ongoing discussions around best practices when it comes to sex and relationships education, the government has recently pledged what they would like to see in a new, updated statuary sex and relationships school curriculum – namely that young people will be taught the concepts of consent and how to deal with peer pressure both on and offline.

      Halil said: ‘It’s been encouraging to see the cultural shift in society over the past year, with calls for better understanding of and respect for consent. But it’s really worrying that people of all ages think that it’s not okay to withdraw consent in a range of situations. It’s always okay to say no to sexual activity that you’re not comfortable with, whatever the situation – and it is equally important to listen to and respect your partner if they want to stop.’

      That’s right, sexual health affects us all – so isn’t it time we all wised up about it?

      Sexual Health Week 2018 runs from 24-30 September and sees the launch of the FPA’s new campaign, Consent: Yes, yes, yes!. For further information and advice on anything to do with sex and relationships, visit the FPA’s website.

      While you're here, find out what happened when Meghan Markle addressed #metoo.

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