What Every Boy Should Be Taught About Consent

African American boy and girl holding hands

There’s a lot of attention surrounding the new requirement for girls in New Zealand to wear longer skirts to prevent “boys from getting ideas” and to “create a good work environment for male staff.”

Even Erykah Badu weighed in on this story. I thought she, of all people, would come to these girls’ defense. But, Badu agreed with the article and left me and ‘Black Twitter’ dumbfounded. They were talking about grown men sexualizing children and blaming the children for it. And she agreed?

READ: If It’s Not A Clear Yes It’s A No: Honoring Sexual Consent In Relationships

With all the respectability politics policing women and girls, we often forget to educate our boys on their problematic behavior. If we don’t teach them something is wrong, they’ll likely assume it’s right. We have to educate our boys before they grow up to be men who still misunderstand the difference between consensual and non-consensual sex.

The next time you have ‘the talk’ don’t forget to mention consent.

“I think in speaking to boys and young men about this issue, it’s worth reminding them that young women may experience sex and its consequences differently than many males (including things that might affect their willingness, like concern about pregnancy and reputation),” said Dr. Carol Queen, the staff sexologist at Good Vibrations.

If you’re tired of being lead on, quit following.

Granted, boys aren’t mind readers. But, they shouldn’t assume that someone wants to have sex with them, even if that person has shown some kind of interest. They should also know being lead on is not a sign for them to pursue someone more aggressively.

“True consent cannot be manipulated. A ‘Yes’ after twenty minutes of whining, guilting, bugging, or begging is not actually a yes. Pretending to be (or willing to do) something you aren’t is not consent,” said Jo Langford, a therapist and a sex educator for teen boys and their parents in Seattle.