The media has been populated with controversial stories recently of how women have been sexually assaulted in the entertainment industry. The Harvey Winstine stories, Hugh Heffner, and the unlucky radio DJ that was taken to court by Taylor Swift, and ordered to pay damages of $1 for grabbing her arse.
The stories are always horrific and we now live in a society where we are not surprised about allegations against celebrities, especially those who were big entertainment stars on British TV in the 70s and 80s. We have become so accustomed to it that the new generation of children and young adults are being subjected to these stories, but is that enough to make sure that this new generation understand that sexual assault, abuse and non consensual touching of anyone, in any way, is acceptable?
Women are now standing up and saying how male colleagues have humiliated them in the work place, comments, gestures, even grabbing a handful of boob to make a show for their friends. However we hardly ever here from the male perspective, as when groups of women get together the tables can turn and men too can be objectified. Take the adverts for Diet Coke, the hunky, shirtless man coming to deliver drinks to the office while women swooned. No one complained, but if this was a hot shirtless woman walking into an office of men that swooned, there would be an outcry of sexualisation and more. This is where equality comes into play in the media.
What we should be teaching our children is that equality and consent are some of the most important lessons to learn. This generation should not have to face the continued tabloid stories of how people have been abused and assaulted because of their gender. They should learn that it goes both ways, consent towards members of the same sex is appropriate too, even in friendship groups. Some people welcome hugs and touching, others may prefer a nod or a handshake as a greeting. I have very close friends who will, and I do not mind, grab a handful of boob and give it a squeeze, as a friendly hello. I do not mind my friends doing this but it is not ok for a stranger to do it, and this is where we need to make sure children understand consent.
YouTubers, Jack Howard and Dean Dobbs did a parody song about consent, it charted in 2015 in the UK top 40. This was the start of the children’s generation learning about how the issue of consent ripples through the media even now. Ask an adult about a sexual abuse case in the media and the are likely to say Jimmy Savel, ask someone of the YouTube generation and they will say Sam Pepper, VeeOneEye or Alex Day.
As a parent, especially a parent of a young boy who is growing up and hitting puberty, I am doing my best to educate him about equality and consent. He brought up a very interesting point and one which I had already been puzzled by at his new high schools recent parents evening. For PE boys and girls are separated. The boys, no matter what the weather, will be outdoors, in the mud, full contact rugby and the like. The girls however get gymnastics, badminton, they are inside in a hall, sheltered from the elements and encouraged to be graceful and have poise.
This is where the gender equality fails in mainstream education. Nathan liked badminton, he would love to learn gymnastics and he really wants to learn to do back flips, but gender bias says boys play rugby, girls do dance. Surely there is now room and development to cater for the needs of the students, as there will be some children who are very uncomfortable with full contact sports, and this again comes down to consent. No child should be forced into a situation that they are uncomfortable with, not by a member of their peer group, or by an adult. But yet many children face this problem on a daily basis with school which leads to anxiety issues and possible mental health issues later in life if not addresssed.
I would love to hear your thoughts on this subject. How should we ensure that this generation understand consent and equality?
Love, hugs – consensual ones of course,