Consent: Not actually that complicated

Dino tea party, by KaffySmaffy on Tumblr

A short one today as my life is currently very complicated and conspiring against my preference to spend all of my days working out what to blog. But do you know what isn’t complicated?


It’s been much discussed recently; what with college campuses bringing in Affirmative Consent rules, and with the film of the book that managed to make lack of consent look sexy raking it in at the box office. You may not know this, but in the UK we more or less have something similar to ‘affirmative consent’ already. It’s how Ched Evans was convicted while his co-defendant was not – and is along the lines of whether the defendant had a reasonable belief that the alleged victim consented. From the court documents it appears that while the jury felt that it was reasonable to believe that the victim had consented to intercourse with the co-defendant, it was not reasonable to believe that she’d consented to intercourse with some random dude that turned up halfway through (Evans). The issue in the UK isn’t traditionally in the way it’s dealt with in court, but in the way it has been investigated – new guidance was recently issued to try to improve this.

It seems like every time an article is written about consent, or a move made towards increasing the onus on the initiator of the sex to ensure that the person they are trying to have sex with, you know, actually WANTS to have sex with them, there are a wave of comments and criticisms.


even the comments in response to this cartoon illustrate the depth of lack of understanding of consent

It seems a lot of people really, REALLY don’t get what ‘consent’  means. From the famous “not everybody needs to be asked prior to each insertion” to the student that (allegedly) thought he’d surprise his partner with some non consensual BDSM to that fucking song to almost every damn comment on any article by anyone that suggests that yes means yes; it seems people really have a problem understanding that before you have sex with someone, and that’s every time you have sex with them, make sure they want to have sex with you. This goes for men, women, everyone. Whoever you are initiating sexytimes with, just make sure they are actually genuinely up for it. That’s it. It’s not hard. Really.

If you’re still struggling, just imagine instead of initiating sex, you’re making them a cup of tea.

You say “hey, would you like a cup of tea?” and they go “omg fuck yes, I would fucking LOVE a cup of tea! Thank you!*” then you know they want a cup of tea.

If you say “hey, would you like a cup of tea?” and they um and ahh and say, “I’m not really sure…” then you can make them a cup of tea or not, but be aware that they might not drink it, and if they don’t drink it then – this is the important bit –  don’t make them drink it. You can’t blame them for you going to the effort of making the tea on the off-chance they wanted it; you just have to deal with them not drinking it. Just because you made it doesn’t mean you are entitled to watch them drink it.

If they say “No thank you” then don’t make them tea. At all. Don’t make them tea, don’t make them drink tea, don’t get annoyed at them for not wanting tea. They just don’t want tea, ok?

They might say “Yes please, that’s kind of you” and then when the tea arrives they actually don’t want the tea at all. Sure, that’s kind of annoying as you’ve gone to the effort of making the tea, but they remain under no obligation to drink the tea. They did want tea, now they don’t. Sometimes people change their mind in the time it takes to boil that kettle, brew the tea and add the milk. And it’s ok for people to change their mind, and you are still not entitled to watch them drink it even though you went to the trouble of making it.

If they are unconscious, don’t make them tea. Unconscious people don’t want tea and can’t answer the question “do you want tea” because they are unconscious.

Ok, maybe they were conscious when you asked them if they wanted tea, and they said yes, but in the time it took you to boil that kettle, brew the tea and add the milk they are now unconscious. You should just put the tea down, make sure the unconscious person is safe, and  – this is the important bit – don’t make them drink the tea. They said yes then, sure, but unconscious people don’t want tea.

If someone said yes to tea, started drinking it, and then passed out before they’d finished it, don’t keep on pouring it down their throat. Take the tea away and make sure they are safe.  Because unconscious people don’t want tea. Trust me on this.

If someone said “yes” to tea around your  house last saturday, that doesn’t mean that they want you to make them tea all the time. They don’t want you to come around unexpectedly to their place and make them tea and force them to drink it going “BUT YOU WANTED TEA LAST WEEK”, or to wake up to find you pouring tea down their throat going “BUT YOU WANTED TEA LAST NIGHT”.

Do you think this is a stupid analogy? Yes, you all know this already  – of course you wouldn’t force feed someone tea because they said yes to a cup last week. Of COURSE you wouldn’t pour tea down the throat of an unconcious person because they said yes to tea 5 minutes ago when they were conscious. But if you can understand how completely ludicrous it is to force people to have tea when they don’t want tea, and you are able to understand when people don’t want tea, then how hard is it to understand when it comes to sex?

Whether it’s tea or sex, Consent Is Everything.

And on that note, I am going to make myself a cup of tea.

*I actually said this word for word to a friend in the early hours of Sunday morning after a warehouse party. Tea. It’s fucking brilliant.

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880 Responses to Consent: Not actually that complicated

  1. katybee says:

    Really nice blog and comparison.

    I’ve had a debate with a male friend who thinks there is a cultural element to some of the consent debate. That women feel obliged to put up some level of resistance e.g. saying I’m not sure / being coy so they don’t appear over keen (and all the charming terms that go with that). But I disagree – you shouldn’t be twisting anyone’s arm. If they’re not sure if they want tea … you shouldn’t be waging a war of words to convince them to drink the tea!

  2. Barfolomew says:

    How about this tiny twist – giving vs. receiving.

    I ask someone if they would like to make me a cup of tea. Or maybe they are already with kettle in hand, pouring tea for a friend of mine, and I casually take the cup and have a sip. Or they told me they would make me tea, but now they don’t and I am really thirsty for some tea. And they are standing there with the cup in their hand, saying “No I take it back, it is not for you”. Can I be angry with them then? Can I go “Hey you promised me tea, what happened now?” Sometimes they pass out with the cup in their hand, can I take it since they clearly meant to give it to me, or do I need to wake them up first?

    This only means the analogy is limited. And flawed in the sense that sex is unfortunately perceived as something you “get” rather than “give” – at least from the male side, yeah, even if you do not gender your analogy this attitude is still unfortunately prevalent in our culture. Perhaps you might like to address this. I would suggest something along the lines of “making tea together”.

    Anyway, to be honest, it is not consent that we need, it’s enthusiasm.

  3. hawkesmoor says:

    Reblogged this on Hawkesmoor's Blog and commented:
    This is probably the simplest explanation I’ve ever seen of a simple concept that remarkably few people seem to understand.

  4. JennyExiled says:

    Reblogged this on Celibacy and the Suburbs and commented:
    Read this. Now. Everyone.

  5. I love this blog and thank you for writing it. I particularly love that you point out that you can say that yes you want tea, but in the time it takes to boil the kettle and make. the tea that you can change your mind. And that’s ok.

  6. trynadiet says:

    i have used a similar analogy for quite the opposite reason, to demonstrate the idea of how nebulous consent can be.

    substitute “delicious chocolate cake” for tea.

    for me, tea is neutral. doesn’t turn my taste buds on.

    but if someone offers chocolate cake, i would simultaneously want it because i love cake, but also immediately say no because cake is not on my diet plan to become a perfect size 4, which society deems to be an acceptable size.

    my friend says come on, it’s so good.

    i say no again.

    but now the cake is right in front of me. hmmm…

    i might be sort of persuaded. i might try to eat half – that’s it, i’m only having half.

    and then oops- i end up eating the whole thing.

    dammit, how did that happen? why did i do that? ugh i feel sick. i still love cake but right now i regret it.

    having gone off my intended plan i am pissed at the person who (persuaded me? convinced me? coerced me?) into having cake with them.

    did i consent?

    was i forced?

    did i just make a mistake according to my dietary paradigm of self-shame from my casual random glutton/slut cake eating?

    • draknusx says:

      See, this is why the whole issue confuses me. It’s literally to the point that the only safe way to have cake and not be accused of culinary assault is to have a lawyer draft a contract for each encounter. At least then you have something in writing.

      • trynadiet says:

        it’s also just understanding the context of cake shaming. we all know even mediocre cake can taste good. if there was no shame in having random half-baked cake would we draw the same lines around consent?

        i mean sure, i can’t enjoy cake when i’m unconscious, so that is crystal clear.

        but claims of coercion and manipulation are, like, harder to swallow if i fully acknowledge i like cake and like most people i do a lot of dancing around the issue of should-i-or-shouldn’t i indulge in something enjoyable that is frowned on by society.

    • emarley15 says:

      Your friends should have respected your “no” when you said it. Trying to persuade someone to eat cake when they’ve said no is disrespectful. You may not agree with their reasons for saying no and think that they should eat the cake anyway, but that’s neither your choice nor your business. Their decisions, and the reasons for those decisions, should be respected.

    • emarley15 says:

      Your friends should have respected your “no” when you said it. Trying to persuade someone to eat cake when they’ve said no is disrespectful. You may not agree with their reasons for saying no and think that they should eat the cake anyway, but that’s neither your choice nor your business. Their decisions, and the reasons for those decisions, should be respected.

      • CJB says:

        But the problem with that is, well, frankly- making a deal out of “awww, c’mon, have a piece, it’s good!” is a quick route to having either no friends or friends that don’t ever want to offer you cake.

        And here’s, for me, as a man, the reason I’m not on board with these types framing.

        I’m not dating women that write feminist blogs on the internet, or their commentators- at least not so far.

        I’m trying to get dates in bars, and online, and flirt with women in the real world. And while I’m sure you all think that a guy who is into positive affirmation is very sexy, not many other women do.

        (And by this, I mean “sitting down with my female friends at various times in my life and asking their advice on dating, only to be told I need to be aggressive and I quote “dont’ take no for an answer.” This isn’t a commentary on their being right or wrong or speaking for all women. I’m simply saying that I was able to gather together a group of a number of intelligent, educated, take-no-shit women who know damn well what feminism is……and they don’t think guys who take an approach like this are sexy. That’s not the patriarchy, that’s just personal choice.

        Like it or not, strategies that involve pushing boundaries (“C’mon, baby, just have one bite of cake, see what you think…..”) WORK. And I don’t think it’s because the world is full of women too dumb and weak to do “Well, I WAS going to turn him down, but now that’s he mildly cajoled me…..I’m helpless before him!”

        Clearly, again- this is working for SOMEONE and a large number of women seem to dig it.

        And you can’t legislate all sexual behavior. I make sure that she’s into it before I get…..well….buh-ZAY…..but the rest? Do I say “may I kiss you” or steal a kiss? While making out, how far do I move my hands without asking? How about switching from making out to necking? From necking to tugging her shirt up? Should I ask to pop her bra, or if we’ve got that far, should I assume?

        the answer to all these is- it depends. Is she shy? Is she pushy? Does she start slow or get right down to it? How much chemistry? What type of chemistry?

        And at no point is the best way to handle the situation one where you stop kissing, say, “do I have your verbal consent to kiss your neck?” and so on.

        Ultimately- if we’re gonna spend this much time and effort to try and attempt to make sure that no woman is ever harmed by a man- why not just bring back chaperones and male escorts? They did wonder’s for the rape rates of the 1860s and 70s.

    • While I understand the point you are making, and I do agree that sometimes a little encouragement may be innocent and completely fine, I would like to draw your attention to a couple of points, firstly that encouragement to et the cake is encouragement to do something that is not necessarily healthy for you either mentally or physically, and secondly, after they ‘helped’ you change your mind you felt guilty. Taking this back to sex, why would you want t encourage anyone to partake in sex if the end result is them feeling guilty? Surely you should only want them to feel good emotions afterwards not regret and guilt. So should you encourage/coerce someone with that cake if they tell you no? Were you forced to eat the cake – No, but were you pressured into it – Yes. No means no, and it still means no even when you think it might be something that deep down they want unless they change their mind of their own free will, without added pressure.

      • jamspoons says:

        Coercion isn’t consent. Exactly what I wanted to say with the addition that there’s a world of difference between someone tempting you with cake then you eating it yourself, and someone tempting you with cake and then forcing it down your throat against your will.

    • Aaron Curtis says:

      The original analogy was bad, and yours is worse. However, the point of the article is correct. The situation is very simple, and here’s how it goes:

      It is YOUR RESPONSIBILITY to determine beyond all reasonable doubt that the other person is consenting. If there is any doubt, you need to straight up ask. It’s not that hard. Use your words.

      Whether or not someone regretted having sex is not relevant to the question of consent, which is why your post made less sense than the original blog post here.

    • Cass says:

      But at the same time, if someone shoves a big, huge piece of chocolate cake down my throat even if I tell them not to, now I’ve got a bunch of people asking me, “Didn’t it taste good? Didn’t you really, actually enjoy it? Deep down? Even though you said you didn’t want it, didn’t you actually like it? So it wasn’t REALLY non-consentual cake-tasting?”
      Or maybe “If you didn’t REALLY want the chocolate cake, maybe you should’ve fought harder against the cake. Maybe you should’ve said no louder, or screamed or fought louder. Maybe you weren’t clear enough that you didn’t REALLY want the chocolate cake. I mean, everyone LOVES chocolate cake, right?”
      Or “What were you ordering that you deserved to get the chocolate cake? Were you too skinny, or too fat? Did you show, in some way, that you weren’t committed enough to your diet, or that you wanted to gain a few pounds? Maybe you hinted that you had low blood sugar, or that some chocolate would cheer you up? I think that your shirt really sent the message that chocolate would cheer you up today.”
      Goes both ways, right?

    • supercarrot says:

      a little bit of both. your pusher should have respected that you didn’t want any, no matter your reasons. they should have been supportive in your desire to abstain.
      but also, you clearly love cake and felt it was missing in your life. i say kick off the oppressive weight of society and embrace yourself the way you are. cake is worth it.

    • supercarrot says:

      a little bit of both. your pusher should have respected that you didn’t want any, no matter your reasons. they should have been supportive in your desire to abstain.
      but also, you clearly love cake and felt it was missing in your life. i say kick off the oppressive weight of society and embrace yourself the way you are. cake is worth it.

    • Most people have consented to sex and then regretted it. That is not rape.

    • T. I. Troll says:

      “Have cake!”
      “Come on, look how good it is!”
      “Ok, fine, i’ll just eat half a piece” *om nom nom* “Give me the other half of that cake!”

      this is *consentual* cake. You said yes, on your own free will, and your subsequent guilt is immaterial. (the guy may still be an asshole, but he’s not a rapist)

      Note how *you* said yes at every stage where it matters.

      If you agree to half a piece but then he starts shoving the whole thing into you, then that is NOT ok.

      • DrQ says:

        “Note how *you* said yes at every stage where it matters. ”

        And right there we have the problem. You have decided that the only stage “where it matters” is the stage where she said “Yes.” You have decided that the stages where she said “No,” quite clearly — don’t matter.

        “Have cake!”

        That’s it. That’s all. That’s the only stage that matters.

        There is only one acceptable response :

        “OK, no problem.”

        Depending on your inclinations and the situation, you might follow that with :

        “Would you like something else?”


        “Let me know if you change your mind.”

    • Imogen says:

      But at least then your host would see you enthusiastically eating cake and they will see how you are enjoying it and hungry for the next bite, this is still consent because you are showing that you want to eat cake . But if you only doing it out if politeness and are miserably eating cake then you are not enthusiastic and the host should not keep insisting you eat it; you have been coerced and it would not be consent.

      • Spot says:

        Yes – but now your ‘consent’ is defined by how the host interprets a particular expression on your face – which is very subjective. Anyone could claim “but he/she *looked* like they were enjoying themeselves, so it was consensual!” as a defense against coercive cake, or coercive sex. And in reality I’m sure this is the kind of thing that happens a lot of the time – if a sexual partner *seems* to be enjoying themselves, we assume they are. But they might not be. Which is why consent can be a very complex thing, and not always the simple black-and-white thing the orignial author claims…

    • irishlaura says:

      This is still quite simple.

      If you offer someone chocolate cake and they say no, you say “ok.”

    • sellmaeth says:

      I don’t know … are you really angry with friends who persuade you to eat chocolate cake? Because I know I wouldn’t be. I would just be angry at myself. In the end, it was my decision.
      With sex, that is not so easy. If someone makes clear that sex before marriage is against their principles, and someone still tries to seduce them, I would consider that … well, maybe not rape, but I would consider it a bad thing.
      And I am of the opinion that if you are worried about false rape accusations … just don’t have sex when consent is questionable. Consent is complicated only if you make it so. I live in a wonderfully easy world where there is “yes”, which means yes, and there is everything else, which means no. Easy.

  7. HHighwater says:

    Also if you asked for English Breakfast tea and someone brings you nettle tea, you are entitled to refuse that tea. Or try a bit but stop drinking it if you don’t like it.

    And just because you went to the tea room to enjoy a cup of English Breakfast it doesn’t mean you also fancy a cup of PG Tips and a Yorkshire Tea on the same evening.

  8. Nicola says:

    There’s also no way the way you’re dressed could imply that you want tea, from anyone, all the time. Wearing Laura Ashley or Edinburgh Woolen Mill clothing does NOT imply you are gagging for a cup of tea.

    BTW I really want a cup of tea now but its too late in the evening for me to drink tea!

  9. Reblogged this on The Norman Awards and commented:
    Great blog post here about consent

  10. Powers says:

    So what if you offer someone tea, and they accept, and appear to enjoy it, but then two weeks later say that they were hopped up on Benadryl and you took advantage of their state to make them drink tea?

    • jen says:

      Well your moral (/legal) culpability will depend on your state of mind at the time. Questions like “Did you know they had taken something?”, “Were you aware this might impair their ability to consent?”, “Did you consider that possibility and go ahead anyway?” will be asked. If you didn’t know, you’re in the clear, you didn’t take advantage of them. If you knew, thought “hmm they seem kind of out of it, maybe they don’t actually want this” but just wanted so damn much to give them the tea that you didn’t give a shit, you may be liable.

      MAY is the operative word here, if this were a rape case, it’s A) pretty dependent on the specific facts; just because you know someone’s taken Benadryl doesn’t mean you have any idea how that affects their ability to consent, and B) state of mind is notoriously hard to prove, and if it comes down to it, reasonable doubt will kick in and you’re likely not to be convicted.

      It is very difficult to prosecute rape in this scenario. That’s not to say feel free to go and take advantage of people who are out of it, but in an ambiguous situation, innocent until proven guilty tends to do its job.

  11. Goodguy says:

    It’s a great analogy, but like all analogies it’s imperfect. The problem I have with it is that social pressures expect some people to be tea makers and others to be tea choosers. Tea makers are expected to be the tea initiators and make their tea in a smooth and suave way. And tea choosers have been heard saying that they want their tea makers to take control and be able to read all the subtle tea chooser signals and to figure out what exactly kind of tea the tea chooser wants. They want “real” tea makers. Now, no sane logical person thinks a tea maker should force tea down anyone’s throat nor that the tea maker is entitled to anything. However, why don’t we stop using imperfect analogies and talk about the fucking actual subject? Dating and sex, including consent, IS complicated just like all social human interactions. Should a man force, persuade or pressure a woman in having sex? NO! Should there be affirmative consent prior to intercourse? YES! Should a guy ask for consent before kissing a girl? Maybe, but wouldn’t that kill the romance a bit? What about putting an arm around her? What about taking clothes off? Do we need to formally ask each step of the way? I thought that wasn’t manly and romantic?

    • binidj says:

      Honestly, if the only way you know to check that what you’re doing is okay with someone is to ask them formally, then I’d suggest your communication skills could use some work.

    • Jo says:

      ‘I thought that wasn’t manly and romantic’. Oh please, pass the sick bucket.

    • Dre says:

      I totally get that it can be confusing for masculine folks to figure out how to navigate this. It must be ridiculously confusing to sort through all of the different messages that are sent your way when it comes to sex/dating. I also think it is immensely important to dissect which of these messages are drivel from various media (TV, movies etc) vs. direct messages from actual womyn/femme folks in your life or whose blogs you read. Saying womyn have been heard saying they want a real man who takes control etc. makes it seem like this is the opinion of all womyn. I think overwhelmingly, womyn in real life agree that they would rather be asked directly if what you are doing feels good, as opposed to feeling coerced/forced into participating when they are uncomfortable. I agree that there is gray area, but focusing on if you should ask for a kiss, or putting your arm around her distracts from the initial message. Sure, sometimes if you’re picking up subtle clues that she wants to be kissed, a kiss is pretty non-threatening for most, and she might feel fine if ya just go for it.
      For me (as a womyn), it’s really sexy when a partner asks me “how does that feel?”, and equally sexy for me to ask and have them reply “yes!” As the original poster said, this does not apply just to men instigating sex, it applies for all people engaging in sex. I think it is fucked up that society tells men that being male means they want sex all the time, no exceptions, and they also need to instigate it. It is also fucked up that womyn are taught to be ashamed of having a sex drive, having casual sex, and that it is wrong for them to instigate sex. We certainly have a long way to go to figure all this out. If you are still confused about this, i encourage you to read/ask more real womyn, and i think you will find some good insight.

    • I would think that If all the activity that happens before tea is not objected to..(& if there are any objections, you ought to back off) when you are about to have some ‘ tea’, that then would be the time to ask, but not at every stage along the way.
      If this is a new partner, then you need to ask before kissing her, touching etc., but in a longer term relationship some ground rules are in place. The person is not an acquaintance, a near stranger, or a person that you do not know very well. Women need to feel safe & establish trust before they are likely to put themselves into a potentially dangerous situation with someone that they do not know very well. (& we all start out not knowing each other very well)
      Men never seem to understand this ! They say, “I’m not a crazy rapist or a serial killer”. She doesn’t know you well enough to decide that… It’s not paranoia, or resisting tea because of ‘programming’. It’s not any different than looking both ways before you cross a busy road. Basic survival. If I asked you to put an apple on your head so that I could shoot it, would you allow me to do that? (even if I assured you that I’m a crack shot, or in your case, ‘a nice guy’? ) Rapists seldom introduce themselves as such.
      And it’s not just physical abuse. There are more kinds of abuse than those kinds. We want to make sure that you are not one of those. Women are cautious, & with good reason. It never hurts to ask first, even if you are pretty sure it’s o.k.. We will Respect You for it. Being a decent kind human being is not a weakness, it’s a great quality.
      I have the feeling that you get most of your information about making tea, (& women) from either males friends, or the internet. They are both frequently wrong.

  12. smilecries says:

    Reblogged this on smilecries and commented:
    Every person needs to read this, because this actually is a problem.

  13. Pingback: 37 Words – Taking the mystery out of obtaining consent

  14. Rdesign says:

    There are a few other things about consent that are in your article like someones right to have protected sex. In college that right was taken away from me by someone who I thought was serious about me. I was with him for a long while before we had what was supposed to be consensual sex. We discussed using protection condoms because that’s what is necessary to protect yourself and he of course didn’t think so. He argued that men in his age group didn’t get aids this discussion went on for days (this was in the lat 80’s) Finally I thought I got my point across and he conceded or so I thought. Then when we went to have sex he of course didn’t use a condom and he even had one in his bedside table ( found it a three days later. I was already in love with him and was ill-equipped to deal with the reality of the situation. Make new mistake that is rape. Regardless of whether it was going to be consensual or not I had the right to have safe sex and he took that away from me and that makes it Rape! That type of behavior was so foreign to me that I couldn’t understand it. I didn’t understand what he did was about power and not about love. This was the first time I had ever come into contact with that type of thing up close.

  15. Rdesign says:

    I needed to edit the above because I had too many typos.
    There are a few other things about consent that aren’t in your article, like someone’s right to have protected sex.
    In college that right was taken away from me by someone whom I thought was serious about me. There was a long courtship before we had what was supposed to be consensual sex. We discussed using protection ie… condoms. That’s what is available to protect yourself and he of course didn’t think so. He argued that men in his age group didn’t get aids this discussion went on for days (this was in the late 80’s) Finally I thought I got my point across and he conceded or so I thought. Then when we went to have sex he of course didn’t use a condom even though he ended up he having one in his bedside table ( found it a three days later). I found it when he asked me to get some thing from the bed side table for him. I was already in love with him and was ill-equipped to deal with the reality of the situation. Make no mistake that is rape. Regardless of whether it was going to be consensual or not I had the right to have safe sex and he took that away from me and that makes it Rape! That type of behavior was so foreign to me that I couldn’t understand it. I didn’t understand what he did was about power and not about love. This was the first time I had ever come into contact with that type of thing or person up close.

  16. I feel that this is actually quite an intelligent metaphor, however I do think there was one scenario that wasn’t touched on. Suppose you ask your guest whether or not they would like tea and they answer yes, but then sometime within the process of making tea they change their mind and decide that they don’t (it can happen) however they realize that you went through the effort of making it and don’t want to be rude, so they drink the tea anyways. Who exactly is at fault here? The host for not picking up on the fact that their guest did not in fact want any tea, or the guest for not being more honest and simply declining to drink? It appears in there world of tea consent there are a few gray areas after all.

  17. Spot ON. And quite brilliant analogy. Might save a few over-forward lads from getting a pot of hot tea thrown in their faces.

  18. moustress says:

    I fear the folks who really need to know won’t read it. I had been pressure raped by my ex on one occasion, and raped on another, and it’s a hard issue to sort out in that sort of situation I wasn’t
    sure at the time, but later, after getting rid of that 225 lb. tumor, and doing therapy twice a week for a half a year, it all became clear to me.

    • I’m so sorry to hear of your experiences. I hope you’re in a better place now x

      • moustress says:

        I thought I had replied to your comment; I am slow to learn my way around new sites. I really enjoyed looking through your postings.

        It was perplexing reading all the different permutations and interpretations of your posting about consent. i thought people were having maybe a little bit too much fun and not taking the topic seriously. Women are just as confused about consent as men are, though I think they are violated more often than men. My take is that men may feel that it’s unmanly not to give it up.

        It would be sad if our culture got so PC that flirting was seen as assault of some sort. I don’t think it is, but I also don’t think flirting is the same as consent; more of a fact-finding mission.

  19. tiffany267 says:

    As an American, the only part of this post that I don’t understand is why anyone would want milk in tea.

  20. Smith FT says:

    what if you really want tea, but you are told that tea-likers are frowned upon, so you need to refuse the offer for tea at least three times before then you can finally accept the tea without guilt. And what if this kind of behavior conditions the tea offerer to understand that refusal isnt a refusal, but really just part of a dance by which the offerer needs to feign it.

    Now throw a ton of baileys in the tea and see if there are no misunderstandings.

    The fact remains that if tea drinkers felt they could accept tea without guilt, a guilt perpetuated by a system to control tea drinkers, then we’d be closer to the premise supplied in the post.

    • summit junkie says:

      What if you take a refusal of tea at face value, and put the tea away. Maybe they secretly wanted tea, maybe they truly didn’t. Your job is to respect what they are saying and not force tea upon someone who claims, true or not, not to want tea.
      What if everyone behaved like this, and this in turn conditioned the “tea-refusers that secretly actually want tea” that hey, if they want tea, they should be honest and forthright and that their wishes, whether wanting tea or not, will always be respected by you? I think that would be pretty fantastic.

      • NT says:

        “What if you take a refusal of tea at face value, and put the tea away. ”

        If you did this with everybody, you might conclude through experience that very few people want to drink tea with you, even though for some reason they seem to enjoy drinking tea with others. You might conclude that there’s some problem with you, even though all you’re doing is consistently respecting other people’s stated wishes.

        The fact is that much of our society favors men who take initiative, even with women who seem reluctant. Obviously there’s such a thing as taking that too far, but a man who is too sensitive to what women seem to want will be labeled as a loser.

        Of course if everybody behaved like this one guy, as you say, the tea refusers might learn to be honest. Problem is, everybody does not behave like that person offering tea, and that person’s strategy is likely to be a losing one. From an evolutionary point-of-view, people with that strategy are eliminated in favor of people with more successful strategies.

        So if we want things to change, at least part of what needs to change is for would-be tea drinkers to be more honest and upfront about their interests in what kind of tea they like and with whom they’d like to drink it.

    • I heard that exact premise from a person who likely did commit a sexual assault.( From his own description of the event!)
      “Women always feel guilty about drinking/enjoying tea.” (‘pretty sure that was Not the case here.)
      Some men take it as a personal insult when we say, “No thank you”. There can be a lot of valid reasons why we don’t want tea now, or would prefer not to have tea with you.
      You get that choice..why do you think others should not have it too?

      B.S. to the women’s guilt excuse ! We want to have a say in what tea we drink, & when we drink it. No more. No less.
      There are people who like to make people feel guilty, & small, & ugly, & inferior. They like to control people, sometimes by physical methods, sometimes by psychological methods. This is their game. Forcing someone to drink tea is about power, not tea.

      Guilt doesn’t push a person into a long, nasty court battle, involving assassination of their character, & a lot of legal expenses, & sometimes threats from the people surrounding the defendant.

      Whatever sentence the tea maker gets after a court reaches a decision, the tea drinker, or tea refuser gets ‘life’ or something like it.

      I’m sorry that you don’t seem to understand that.

  21. Yeah, but sometimes they pick up their cup, you pick up the teapot, and start pouring and no one actually says anything. Sometimes you surprise your friend with a tea tray.

    • binidj says:

      At no point does any of that involve force-feeding tea … just different ways of offering and accepting.

    • dariushuntly says:

      Converting this back from the tea analogy, sometimes I’ll hug and kiss my fiance in a “certain way” that she knows is an offer of sex. If she says “not right now” or “I’m too tired” or even doesn’t seem “into it” it’s left at that, basically unless she reciprocates. Still not complicated.

  22. Tig says:

    Reblogged this on Starring Role in YOUR own Life and commented:
    If a self-invented Rockstar Dinosaur Pirate Princess isn’t a star in their own life then I don’t know who is. Also, this piece about consent is spot on. I’m going to make some tea which you may or may not decide to drink as you read it…

  23. Vijayalakshmi says:

    I do agree with the opinions expressed. But for theinitial consent , either party changes its mind and to take revenge if the relationships become sour, they file cases in the courts accusing rape. What one must understand that these remarks are sometimes like passing winds. The momentary truth in the relationships never binds the other party unless and until it could be proved.the outcome is always not true.

  24. Vijayalakshmi says:

    Am talking about the Indian scenario where it quite often happens. There may be umpteen reasons to break relationships. My only concern is that one’s conscience must be pricking despite uttering lies and this is hard to prove. In fact, there are cases now in India which are being taken up for hearing despite the fact that it might have taken place a decade ago wherein now if would be difficult to prove beyond doubts even medically the culprit. Where’s the question of tea now. The milk is already curdled enough.

    • az203 says:

      I don’t think this post holds the answer for India’s problem, as it is about preventing rape, not how to deal with a crime that had already happened. As a person with a certain degree knowledge of laws myself (but unfortunately not Indian laws), sadly as you said, the case has been cold for far too long, and it’s become very difficult to prove anything. To my understanding, however, usually in this case, it rests heavily on the judge. With the amount of evidences present, the testimonies of all parties, the pressure of the public, as well as how his/her decision at the moment can have an effect on future cases of rape (as a precedence) and many other factors, the judge will decide to whether or not to condemn the accused, as well as how are reparations are to be made for the victim(s).

  25. Dave Hill says:

    There’s a lot I like a great deal about this analogy, but where it (and maybe the chocolate cake version) fall down is …

    I don’t just want you to want some tea, but I want some tea, too. Really, I’m dying for a cuppa. But I’m not going to drink tea alone because that’s kind of sad, and I really had my heart set on making tea for you. So it’s not just a matter of wanting you to want some tea, but my own tea-drinking being contingent on yours. Which means I’m very likely to keep bringing the conversation around to tea, and interpret any hesitation in saying no to running off to light the kettle.

    (The chocolate cake version works better here, perhaps.)

    Besides, what does it mean if you won’t drink tea with me? I’m told I brew a great cuppa. I even washed the cups and restocked the tea cabinet for you. If you say no to tea, it not only means I don’t get tea, but calls into question my whole reputation as a masterful tea maker …

    It doesn’t change the ethical requirements to GET CONSENT, DAMMIT, but it acknowledges that the insistence about making tea is not just over-insistent politeness. The tea maker has some skin in the game (so to speak) as well. That is where the problem comes up — with the tea making being primarily about me, and not about you.

    • “But I’m not going to drink tea alone because that’s kind of sad”. Really, no it’s not. It is perfectly normal and healthy.

    • “If you say no to tea, it not only means I don’t get tea, but calls into question my whole reputation as a masterful tea maker …(sic)”

      My bullshit meter is burying the needle. No woman is required to have sex with you simply to keep your ego and reputation intact. What you think about yourself is up to you.

      • Dave Hill says:

        And I agree. But for some people the art of a tea party is fraught with a bit more emotional risk and consequences than simply, “Well, no tea then — can I get anything else for you?” Rightly or (quite arguably) wrongly, that can lead to impolite behavior and a pushy host or hostess.

    • Tea drinking is not just about you. There are 100’s of valid reasons why any given person might refuse tea @ any given time, & many of them have nothing to do with the person who made the tea. They simply don’t want any right now.

  26. thulnar says:

    Reblogged this on Thulnar's House and commented:
    This is brilliant and I’m just going to leave it here.


    • I make tea for myself all the time.

      oh wait. TEA.

      Ok, so if I want TEA and the other person doesn’t…I respect that and either get over it, have a cold…drink… or just go and have a cup of tea by myself. Occasionally, I’ve been partway through that cup of tea or cold drink on my own and hte other person’s got all excited about my solo cup of tea or cold drink and they decide they did actually want one after all.

      However much you want tea has ABOSLUTELY NO BEARING on the response the other person gives. None. None whatsoever. No one else should be made to feel obliged to have a cup of tea purely because you just REALLY WANT ONE.

      • “However much you want tea has ABOSLUTELY NO BEARING on the response the other person gives. None. None whatsoever. No one else should be made to feel obliged to have a cup of tea purely because you just REALLY WANT ONE.”

        What you hear is deafening sound of me and every other woman clapping wildly in approval.

      • I do this all the time, and it doesn’t have to involve coercion. Since I’m American, I drink coffee, and I will often say “I’m putting a pot of coffee on, do you want some, too?” If they say yes, great! We shall partake together. If they say no, that’s fine, I’M still going to have some. The invitation is merely to make the other person not feel ashamed or like they’re “putting me out” by requesting coffee. It’s no trouble at all, I’m already doing it. Just as, when someone is about to have sex with their partner, it’s like “Hey, I’m interested, it’s no trouble at all for me to get you going, too – no? You’re just not interested? Okay then.” Nobody has to feel guilty or obligated in these situations. Our society should really take the ego-trip out of sexual encounters.

  28. T. I. Troll says:

    so “i want tea” and you make it and i decide i don’t want it, you feeding me tea is rape.

    but what about “no, i don’t want any” but then you make some for yourself and i change my mind and drink it? does my earlier refusal still make this rape, by the definition of this law?

    what about “yes, i want some tea” and i decide i don’t want any more *halfway through the cup*? (note that the teapot is very heavy, so once you actually start pouring it might be difficult to actually stop)?

  29. Pingback: and now a word from our sponsors | telling the flesh

  30. Your analogy doesn’t address the issue of whether people have been drinking a lot of wine before they decided to finish it off with some “tea.” Now, ideally, everyone should abstain from ethically nebulous situations when intoxicated, but we have already had some wine and forgot about that. We both want tea. We want so much tea! Whose responsibility is it to say, “No, we are too drunk to partake in tea tonight?” Is the person with a lower blood alcohol level the responsible party? The one who is older, stronger, taller, heavier? Drunk people can’t give consent, that much is true, but who is responsible for obtaining consent when both parties are drunk?

    • “Drunk people can’t give consent” pretty much answers “who is responsible for obtaining consent when both parties are drunk?”

      • Toscano says:

        Does it? In the case described, both parties are drunk to the point where they can’t consent, and to point where they can’t appreciate the others’ incapacity. You seem to think there’s an obvious answer here – what is it, exactly? No sexual assault has occurred? Or two sexual assaults have occurred?

      • I was referring to a moment of decision, not an aftermath.

      • How? Obviously, what happened is bad (you shouldn’t have sex when you are too drunk to be aware of yourself, so ideally, don’t ever get that drunk). But who should be held responsible? Both parties? Neither?

      • Perhaps the first question to ask is: Why would anyone want or need to get so drunk that they pass the point of safety?

  31. Jack Robbins says:

    Does everyone know how hot consent can be? I once had a girl friend who might say no to my offer of sex, but she might also say; “Oh baby, yes, I want you to fuck my brains out and make me come like steam engine.” Sigh. She is saying that to somebody else now. Oh well.

  32. amyigibson says:

    You chocolate cake analyzers, you got a problem. Consent is consent. You know what this means. You are lying to yourself or us if you say you don’t. Check your gut. You are not an idiot. Great post.

  33. Pingback: Consent is critical, and it shouldn’t be hard | Of Means and Ends

  34. Rae says:

    You win all the internets today.

  35. Tea as a metaphor for consent. That’s not only clever, it makes me thirsty. I’m going to have to remember that one.

  36. girlmeetsherself says:

    This is perfectly put!! But I’m afraid I will never look at tea the same now…gives the typhoo tea slogan a totally new meaning!

  37. kleverkathy says:

    Oh gosh for such a heavy topic you sure made it fun! 😀 loved this post+

  38. irishlaura says:

    On a related note, I’m really sick of the notion that, as a woman, it’s my responsibility to stay away from Starbucks, otherwise I’m asking for someone to force me to drink tea.

  39. Pingback: Consent | The Penn Ave Post

  40. Reblogged this on Through the eyes of Red and commented:
    Whether it is a cup of tea or sex, yes mean yes and no means no. Consent.

  41. Brittany says:

    Great post! Such a simple concept and yet some people have such a difficult time grasping it

  42. cegovert says:

    This is fantastic

  43. Reblogged this on The Tempest and the Teapot and commented:
    Ok…you mentioned tea, and had a graphic of tea-service and dinosaurs, which, for me, is almost enough for an immediate reblog (given the name of my blog and all…)

    But the analogy goes much deeper than the bottom of the kettle – or even the bottom of the cup. Brilliant.

    Now…I need something to drink.

  44. PoshPedlar says:

    Tea, cake, ornaments on a mantlepiece…. these comments are becoming most Jane Austenesque… in fact we don’t seem to have moved on at all since then. Submission is as much in vogue now. We only need to remove our blindfolds for a moment to ponder at the popularity of Thirty Shades of S***e. Plus ca change. Come on peeps. Let’s embrace the liberty and openness of the 21st Century. No means NO. Say what you mean. Mean what you say.

  45. Holy crap, I’m never drinking tea again with a straight face.

    Great post. What’s been the most educational, though, is the mind-boggling equivocation on the part of the commenters, who just can’t seem to grasp the concept of saying a word and meaning it. No wonder it’s such a crazy tea house out there.

  46. Hannah says:

    Reblogged this on The city of adventure and commented:

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