Image: Primark men's T.Shirt, taken 13th October 2012. Reads: What are you waiting for?
Sexual coercion, sexual violence and rape are major issues facing modern teenagers. As well as isolation from friends, sexual coercion/violence are some of the most prevalent forms of relationship abuse. Sexual coercion can be as subtle as it is pervasive and many young people will not readily recognise that they have experienced coercion or indeed that they have acted coercively. Young women in particular may not resist pressure to have sex, but there is a complete lack of enthusiastic consent. They just don't know that they can say no but also they also have an unhealthy rationale for saying yes. Young women who are 'going along with' sexual activity are often doing so out of some sense of obligation, out of fear of losing their relationship, out of concern that they might be seen as abnormal or inferior as a girlfriend or through fear of abuse or violence. Young women, it seems, are not giving enthusiastic consent because they are enjoying sex. We have a huge issue with the concept of consent in the UK; what it is, why it is important and how you might decide when to give it. It doesn't help that our media is saturated in sexualised images that imply that women are readily available for sex and equally, which imply that masculinity is characterised by sexual aggressiveness, promiscuity and/or a casual approach to sexual relationships. Take this Primark T.Shirt as just one example. The answer should definitely be consent.