What do haircuts, fries with gravy, and heavy metal bands have to do with consent? Everything.
You tell the hairdresser: “Just a trim, please.” You get the worst hair day ever.
You ask for some gravy on your fries. You get a bucket of it. All over your table.
You mention it might be nice to have music at your birthday party. You get the band from hell.
You’d never think such simple requests would lead to such disaster, but that’s exactly what happens in this new video from the Canadian Women’s Foundation’s Get Consent campaign.
By applying the idea of consent to everyday situations, the campaign shows consent isn’t that complicated.
For a lot of people, the idea that you need to give and get consent for sexual activity is new. Many people are confused about sexual consent (only 1 in 3 Canadians understand consent). Some are even angry about it.
I’m not sure why, because consent is really just about permission.
Consent must be positive, which means people must show—by what they say and do—that they freely agree to take part. “I’m not sure” is not consent. Turning away is not consent. Silence is not consent.
Consent must also be ongoing, which means they continue to agree over time. People have the right to change their minds and to agree to some things but not others.
Just because you sit in a barber chair doesn’t mean the stylist can do whatever they want.
Asking for gravy doesn’t mean you want a whole bucket.
Saying you like music doesn’t mean you like ALL music. Turns out, not everyone likes thrash metal.
When you watch the video, most of your attention is likely on the guy in the barber chair, the woman in the diner, and the ladies with their hands over their ears. Even while you laugh at their predicaments, you can easily understand their dismay.
For me, it’s much harder to understand what motivates the other people in the video.
The barber has an odd little smile on his face. (Is it smugness? Sadistic pleasure?) The waiter pouring gravy is relentless, ignoring the woman’s clear “Stop!” The heavy-metal-loving grandson is so focused on his own enjoyment that his gramma’s discomfort means nothing to him.
And that’s the key to understanding consent: It’s about respect. It’s about caring how the other person feels, valuing what they want, and seeing them as an equal.
When you start from there, it all becomes clear.
When you respect someone, it’s a no-brainer to make sure they’re willing, whether we’re talking about haircuts, gravy, music—or sex.
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