Say Yes to Consent Education

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Guest post by Sam Godfrey, a member of McMaster’s Student Health Education Centre ‘s executive

“What’s sex?”

I propped myself up on my leopard patterned pillows, taking a bird’s-eye view of my mother from my top bunk. If she was taken off guard by the question, she didn’t show it. Resting her chin on folded hands and speaking softly, my mother gave me a calm and patient introduction to sex.

Since then I’ve received many versions of ‘The Talk,’ but no matter who was teaching – be it friends or instructors or HBO – there was always something missing.

There are a lot of ways to have sex involving a myriad of types of people and versions of body parts. Some sex is gentle and loving, and some sex is rough and lustful. Some is between two or three or more people, and some is solo. Some sex is complex and inventive and creative and totally magically unique. Some sex is not.

But for all its diversities and possibilities, there is one thing that is absolutely intrinsic to sex: consent.

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This is what was missing from the sex education I received for the greater part of my short life. Both as a sex educator and as a not-totally-awful-human-being, this is a conspicuous and dangerous gap in sex education.

In an effort to bridge this gap, McMaster’s Student Health Education Centre conceived of this short poster campaign that was displayed in first year residence buildings as of September 2014.

The posters are eye-catchingly bold and feature some gender-neutral exchanges between two hypothetical parties demonstrating some key (yet often ignored) aspects of consent. Moving far beyond the limiting discourse of “no means no”, the posters illustrate the more accurate message of “yes means yes,” taking into account factors like drunkenness, prior sexual activity and coercion.

Every conversation about sex must also be a conversation about consent: informed, enthusiastic and ongoing consent.

Do you have an idea for a consent-themed poster? Share it below in the comments.

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