We are told that sexual assault and sexual harassment happen because men don’t understand consent. NSW has a law before Parliament that would require proof of consent as a defence against a charge of rape. Classes are being launched in schools to teach ‘consent’. But does this make sense linguistically? ‘Consent’ has been part of English since at least 1380 and means ‘to agree together’. I am happy to sound like an old-fashioned Old Fogey by saying a better word to teach would be ‘promiscuity’, ‘the frequent, casual changing of sexual partners’. The modern era that has seen the normalisation of promiscuity. Would those schoolroom classes work better if they taught ‘commitment’ instead of ‘consent’? Would that do more to help a confused younger generation and protect more women?
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