What can COVID teach us about consent?
Its safe to say that COVID has shifted our worlds dramatically. I haven’t met a single person unaffected in one way or another. And while there are many outcomes from COVID and the lockdown, both negative and positive, one that I am beginning to explore with clients is consent. Now, you might wonder to yourself; how does she get consent from the COVID challenges. And I know it may seem like a jump, but it’s something I continue to see as being problematic.
Casual sex, hookups, polyamory and dating have all been greatly impacted by COVID. I know many folks may not feel this as a priority, but for many this is the way of life and I impacts multiple relationships. So as many folks attempt to navigate this process, one area that continues to come up is when and how. This is where consent comes in. Let’s start by defining consent. Shall we?:
Consent is verbally asking for permission to engage with another person. Pretty simple right? This is most often used in terms of sex, we hear all about sex and consent being the fix to rape. But what about other types of consent? What about permission to speak about a hard subject? Permission to access private thoughts or messages? Or more recently permission to engage in social connection with the full awareness of what this may mean. This is how COVID has changes the dialogue on consent.
Previous to COVID, many folks wouldn’t think twice about going out to dinner with friends, and never thought to ask where they had been or who they had been around. Most healthy adults don’t cancel dinner plans because they have a small cold, and continue to engage in work or social activities even with they feel under the weather. And what COVID has taught us is that the lack of consent we use to seek social connections is problematic.
I believe it is our social responsibility to be honest and up front about the specifics before engaging with people as our nation and world heal from this pandemic. I believe everyone has the right to make an informed decision prior to engaging in social contact, just like everyone has the right to an informed decision when engaging in sex. So before you seek out your next social contact, consider yourself, the pother parties and consent.