I was one of the many who didn’t hear the word “consent” until college orientation, and that just seems so ridiculous in retrospect. Here are all these kids, alone for the first time, excited to explore and experiment (and with access to free condoms!), and the majority have no idea what consent is. After listening to a very brave upperclassman share her story about being raped, I was inspired to join the effort to prevent sexual violence. I wanted to find a way to make conversations about sexual consent accessible to everyone, and also to find a way to make conversations about sexual consent feel normal.
I define consent as, to agree in harmony. I believe to live as equal, loving, and inspiring human beings there must be understanding and openness around consent. I was a passionate member of the Green Dot group, a sexual violence prevention group on campus, at Connecticut College. Through the group I saw the power of change through social movement and community engagement. The inception of Let’s Be Clear has given me another avenue of work after school allowing me to engage in a great opportunity to initiate social change. I believe with passion and commitment our message of normalizing consent has the power to change minds in every corner of our society and create a safe zone around sex that starts with the discussion of consent.
When I was younger and my friends and I began to get curious about sex, we would tease each other, asking what we had heard about 'it'. But none of us really knew what 'it' was. Everyone was so interested in 'it' and wanted 'it', but the actual 'it' was a big secret that no one wanted to share. Talking about consent is important because it pulls away the shroud of mystery around sex and healthy communication. I believe that being able to unabashedly talk about consent and what we want is the key to safer, enjoyable sex and more honest lives.
I’ve been involved in consent activism since my sophomore year of college, the year that news of the Steubenville rape case broke across the internet. I have assisted with consent workshops for fraternities and other organizations, striving to help improve a critical area of sex education. So many kids go through their school years without learning that they have authority over their own body. And so many of them suffer for it. We need to change the status quo, and I hope to bring my interest in education to that effort with Let’s Be Clear.
I think the first in-depth conversations I had regarding sexual violence, consent, and education were at my alma mater, Wesleyan. These conversations were part of a campus-wide discussion for most of my undergraduate career. I was a member of Rho Epsilon Pi, the only sorority on campus, which worked to promote sexual consent amongst ourselves, other Greek organizations, and the entire Wesleyan community. After graduating, I remained determined to help tackle the widespread issue of sexual violence, and my involvement with Let’s Be Clear is driven by this goal.