Boundaries and Consent in the ‘Me too’ Era

We have heard statements like “me too” and “times up” so often in the media and I feel as though in the dating and hook-up world, there is a sense of fear as to what this all means.

It’s great that woman are now speaking up and are being heard instead of urged or paid to keep quite. Yes, we need to acknowledge that there are and will be a cetin number of cases where fame and validation is the aim, but if women are now going to be heard for injustices that were once and still being done against them, then this is the unfortunate negative consequence with some innocent men
suffering as a result.

What we need however is more conversations around consent so the words harassment and inappropriate behaviour don’t have to be used. It’s not so straight forward as saying yes or no.

Firstly, an individual has to work out where their boundaries are. How can you consent to something if you are not being clear about what you are or are not consenting too? This applies to both men and women. Just because we are hearing about injustices towards women does not mean it doesn’t happen to men, we just don’t hear about it due to gender stereotypes and the idea of being a “man”.

The word boundaries gest used so many times, but does anyone know where their boundaries are? It’s one thing to talk about boundaries, but we need to discuss how those boundaries are formed and from what ideas or experiences. I’m a fan of writing things down to cement ideas. Think of all the things you are comfortable with and are not comfortable with and challenge yourself as to where these ideas came from. Boundaries that stem from real internal thoughts and feelings will be easier to stick to than boundaries that are influenced by society and others around you.
If you are struggling at all or feel like there is more that should be on the list, think back to those times where you felt uncomfortable.

What happened and why did you not feel ok? Think about past dates, relationships, hook-ups and identify what worked and what didn’t.

Once you know what you are consenting to, it’s also important to look at ways that consent can be given. It’s not so simple these days as “no means no”. What happens if you want to hook up but are not
wanting to go all the way? Does “no” have the same effect when you have your tongue in their mouth? And what are you saying no to? This is where the issues of boundaries once again come to play.

For those who want to put those boundaries in place, know that you might need to be clear and precise. If you are on the receiving end of this, respect what they are saying. Hook-ups and dating should be
respectful anyway.

If you are worried that someone is not comfortable, ask them. “Is this ok?”. “Are you ok?” It’s not just up to one person to discuss boundaries, but the other person to ensure boundaries also are not

Also, ensure that what you are saying matches where you are. If you are not comfortable and things are progressively getting worse, don’t’ stay with that person, leave. If you do not want to be sexual
with someone but have agreed to go back to theirs for a drink, think about what message that might say. They might think it’s code for something more, but you just want to chill a little and love a good
glass of wine. Maybe it’s time to let them know you will come back for a wine but communicate what you are comfortable and not comfortable with. Or, if you are really concerned about what will
happen, don’t go. Make another time to catch up in public.

The problem is, we have different expectations of what things means and where dates and hook ups should go. When these aren’t properly communicated with the person on the other side, how can
they know? Therefore, boundaries are so important to discuss. It can be a way of saying what your expectations are.

Whilst it still might be a bit confusing, it’s important that we continue these discussions so we can help each other and future teens to work out where boundaries should be and how we can communicate to keep them in place.

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