The Blurry Lines of Consent

Photo by Mohamed Nohassi on Unsplash

I wrote some articles a few years back; they were supposed to be feminist articles — little did I know that they were rooted deeply in internalised misogyny. One of such articles was titled “The Blurry Lines of Consent.”

Looking back now, that was a very cringe-worthy article that basically said sometimes silence could mean consent or that there’s implied consent when two people are in a relationship or are married.

Living in a country where marital rape is legal, and society blames rape victims, that article was an injustice, and I must admit it was written from a place of ignorance. I took down the blog article a couple of years ago, and the blog on which it was published is no longer active, but it’s been on mind since then to write about that topic again and write it correctly.

There are no blurry lines when it comes to consent, and as the saying goes, ‘No means No,’ but I’d also like to add that anything that isn’t a yes means no.

Silence definitely doesn’t mean yes!

A man once told me that his wife has no right to refuse or deny him sex because he has paid her bride price and therefore has ownership of her body.

In other words, he believes he doesn’t need to ask when he can take it — this is rape. There’s no other word for it because even in marital relationships, consent is necessary. After all, a person cannot own another person regardless of whether or not they are married.

Some might argue that a person’s act of love may be the show of affection, a quick kiss on the head, on the lips — do they need permission to do this all the time?

It is important to note that an act of love can only be an act of love when the person on the receiving end wants it; otherwise, it’s plain old sexual harassment.

Over time, couples may come to be comfortable doing some things with or to each other, but there will be times when one party is not interested, and if the other party presses on, it moves from being an act of love to sexual harassment.

It’s not that hard, there are no blurry lines when it comes to consent, and it doesn’t matter how long you have been together as a couple.

One thing we need to understand is that because it’s normal doesn’t mean it’s right.

As a young African woman, I am surrounded by many injustices against women that seem normal, some of which I internalised, and I am now intentionally unlearning.

That’s what growth is all about.

The first article did not get a lot of views. However still, I hope that I have been able to correct that misleading article. I also hope that people in toxic relationships that require them to keep giving even when they don’t want to see this and know that it is no matter how normal it feels, it is not right and hope they get the courage to leave.