Consent Week: permission is both necessary and sexy

After the success of ARHS’s first Consent Week, members of the Man Club, Women’s Right’s club, and Gender Sexuality Alliance continued the tradition this year with another week of activities aimed at raising student awareness around sexual consent.

Consent is defined as voluntary, sober, enthusiastic, informed, ongoing, and honest permission for physical contact. The goal of Consent Week is not only to educate students about the importance of consent, but also to explain how one can give and get it.

“Everyone in our school may understand what consent is,” said Women’s Rights Club co-president Izzi Tripp, “but not everyone knows how to apply it in their lives.”

This year’s Consent Week included student-facilitated activities in advisories. Students discussed ways to ask for consent and ways to say “yes” and “no.”

The importance of verbal consent was shown through a charades activity, in which students were given words like “justice” and “photosynthesis” to act out without speaking. Few had success guessing the difficult words.

“You can’t tell by body language.  That just does not count,” said Consent Week planner and student facilitator Carolyn Kelly.

Similar to last year, this year’s Consent Week included several after-school activities. On Tuesday, April 5, RAD (Rape Aggression Defense) Training was offered to female-identified students and was led by two local police officers. The training taught self-defense to female-identified students that participated.

On Friday, guest speaker Lisa Fontes led a discussion on coercive relationships. Unfortunately, due to snow days and sickness, a talk led by Laurie Frankl and Consensual Cookie Making with Yana Tallon-Hicks were canceled.

“I hope it will start conversations,” said math teacher and Man Club advisor Josh Nugent.

Talking about sex or other forms of intimacy can be uncomfortable for many people, whether they are teens or adults. In advisories, when students were asked how they would ask for consent to kiss someone, some were unsure why they had to ask at all.

Though it can be nerve-racking to ask for consent, communication can make relationships far more comfortable.

“Consent doesn’t have to be super serious or scary,” said student facilitator and Consent Week planner Emma Schneider. “It’s just about having healthy relationships. We want to make consent a normal, simple thing.”

Though people had varied experiences with Consent Week activities, reactions to the event were generally positive. Unfortunately, underclass students did not have student facilitators leading their advisory discussions, as upper grades were prioritized in hopes that students will spread the importance of consent in college.

In the future, Consent Week planners hope to keep the simple structure of the event and try to include all grades in the same advisory activities.