LET’S HEAR IT FROM THE KIDS
The latest comments by young people on sex & relationships topics
East London student Zaara Chadda, 16, discusses the new show Consent – which Channel 4 calls a “bold, authentic drama about an elite school where lines of sexual consent are dangerously blurred” – and her own lived experiences:
“You can’t even eat a banana at school these days, it’s become so overtly sexualised.
Snide provoking comments like ‘she knows what she’s doing’ and ‘girls are so dramatic’ and ‘girls are so sensitive’ are common. Boys will say things like: ‘Sure, the stuff [Andrew Tate] says about women is wrong, but he motivates people to go to the gym, so it’s not all bad.’
Consent portrayed the pressures we face as teenagers today: that boys need to have the confidence to make the first move; and girls need to be attractive enough that boys will make that first move on them. It also accurately shows how many teenagers make decisions based on receiving validation from their friends. These pressures are timeless, but the rise of social media, porn culture and toxic misogynists like Andrew Tate has only made things worse.
Naturally my mum found the show shocking, but vital. She says it’s helped her to feel she can protect me better as a daughter, and it opened up a conversation between us regarding party culture. It might have been uncomfortable viewing, but it’s certainly helped me to feel free to tell her about any experiences I may have at parties or elsewhere in the future”
WORDS & IMAGE Consent: “I’m a London sixth former and Channel 4’s new drama felt very real – that’s what made it horrifying” (Evening Standard, 17/2/23)
“Once I was kissing someone (quite casually, I might add) and he put his hand around my neck and started to choke me. I moved his hand away from me and said: ‘Why are you doing that?’ and he said: ‘I dunno, I thought you’d like it.’ When I told him I didn’t, he seemed genuinely surprised.
It made me sad to think about the amount of girls who would have just ‘gone along with it’ in that moment – including myself a few years ago. I would have known myself well enough to know that being choked wasn’t something that sexually turned me on, however I don’t know if I would have been able to distinguish between enjoying a sexual encounter because the man I was with was enjoying it, or because I truly enjoyed it myself.
Separating true consent from the desire to give your male partner sexual satisfaction is difficult. But I suggest that a good place to start is to equip young girls and women, who have grown up in an era where pornography has shaped every inch of their sexual landscape, with the capabilities to decide if it is an act they truly want to engage in”
WORDS Sexual choking is now so common that many young people don’t think it even requires consent. That’s a problem – by Teach Us Consent founder Chanel Contos, age 24, who made the BBC 100 Women 2022 list (Guardian, 7/12/22) IMAGE India Hartford Davis for Side-Note