Consent has been in the news a lot recently. Unfortunately, one of the reasons we've heard so much about it is because some people fail to understand - or to respect - that consent is a prerequisite to sex. Consent is a legal word with a very specific meaning which affects all of us. Although our focus here is on the meaning of consent as it relates to relationships between people, consent also affects our rights in a variety of ways. It is important to understand its meaning.
Jennifer Ann's Group is a nonprofit charity and we believe video games are the best approach to educating and empowering people - especially adolescents.
Since 2008 we've been producing serious games which help young people, teachers, and parents and have produced these games about consent to help all people - young and old - have a thorough understanding of its meaning. We hope these Consent Videogames will help everybody have a greater understanding of, and appreciation for, consent.
Consent has an important legal meaning which affects all of us. Although for our purposes we are focusing on the meaning of consent as it relates to relationships between people, consent also affects us in other ways. For example:
For our purposes we are focusing on consent between people - more specifically between people in dating or sexual relationships - but consent still has the same legal meaning in other contexts. Once you understand how consent applies to dating relationships then you'll be able to use that understanding of consent in other ways that consent applies.
So far this is straightforward, but these definitions are fairly broad and open to interpretation. Let's look at Black's Law Dictionary for a more precise definition of consent:
Although this provides more detail about the meaning of consent it also invites many questions! Words used in law have very specific meanings which might be different than the way we use those same words in everyday conversation. So, what we will do is look at the different elements of consent.
We think it will be helpful to take the legal definition of consent and then break it down into its individual elements in order that everybody has the same understanding of what - precisely - is meant by consent. We believe that after evaluating each element of consent the true meaning of the word will become clear.
Consent is a very important and fundamental part of a healthy relationship. Consent involves giving permission and getting permission. More specifically, the permission is: informed, freely given, actively given, and revocable.
This requires that the person giving permission has a full appreciation of what the permission entails. For example, a person must be beyond a certain age to legally engage in sexual activity. The rationale for this is that while they are young, they aren't able to fully understand and appreciate the consequences of sexual activity.
This requires that the person giving permission does so free of coercion, intimidation, force, or threat. For example, an employee is not freely giving permission for their work supervisor to have sex with them if they are only doing so out of fear that they would otherwise lose their job.
This requires that the person giving permission actively communicates that permission verbally or through action. For example, an unconscious person cannot actively consent, nor can a person who is too drunk or otherwise incapacitated.
This requires that the person giving permission is able to change their mind and revoke or change that permission whenever they so choose. For example, if a person engaged in any number of consensual activities with you last year that does not mean that the consent still exists when you bump into them at a pub with their new beau.
Video games have been shown to be effective in:
"'It's like you're actually playing as yourself': Development and Preliminary evaluation of 'Green Acres High', a serious game-based primary intervention to combat adolescent dating violence" from CAVA shares their success in using a video game to change attitudes about abusive behavior in the UK, Sweden, Germany, and Belgium.