Where do we draw the line with consent?

Consent is a word often used in today’s society but do people actually know what it means? It is a word that cannot be defined in one sentence and has multiple parts to it. After our discussion about consent in class, I was inspired to check out how SUNY Geneseo defines consent in the student handbook. I believe that Geneseo does a good job in defining consent, however, I do not think they advertise the Affirmative Consent Policy enough. The worksheet we were given in class is a good start to advertising the definition of consent and its importance and should be displayed on bulletin boards throughout campus.I took a Women Gender Studies class last semester and although I was originally only taking it to fill my schedule, I can honestly say it was the best class I have taken at Geneseo thus far. I believe that every single student at SUNY Geneseo should be required to take it. I realized how little I knew about consent culture and sexual violence. We read a lot of stories where predators had no idea that what they were doing was wrong and did not know the true definition of consent. In high school, I was never exposed to this information, consent was a topic in health class that we vaguely went over.

I have always associated consent with sexual violence but the perspective in class on consent changed the way I look at things. Geneseo implements several rules such as living on campus until your junior year, having to have the gold meal plan as a freshman, and having pictures up on the Geneseo website of individuals, all without the consent of their students. Sure, you can argue that you consent to that when choosing to come to school here but what kind of example is Geneseo setting about consent?

The relationship between students and professors is an interesting one to evaluate. I believe that professors are definitely in a position of power over their students. We discussed how professors can sometimes try and force their opinions and beliefs on their students. The best example I can think of is when students change their beliefs when writing papers to appeal to the beliefs of their professors. I know sometimes students will do this to avoid getting a bad grade for having a different opinion than their professor.

In response to Jessica’s blog post, I also have never had a professor who gave us the opportunity to consent to being contacted. It made me feel as though it is not a one way relationship between me and Professor McCoy. I have never seen it as necessary for my professor to allow me to consent when contacting me but now, my opinion has changed and I believe it is an example that every professor should set. I also think it is extremely important to mention that Professor McCoy made it clear that we could withdraw consent at any time.

In Jessica’s post, she asked the question, “Should professors ask their students for their consent when it comes to things such as randomly calling on them in class or as students of the college do we automatically give our consent when we pay our tuition bills and register for our classes?” I believe that professors should ask for their students consent and should not randomly call on them in class and allow for them to refuse to read out loud if they choose. It is important to engrave this idea that we are allowed to say no! I can definitely see where consent can be seen as a grey area. Where exactly do we draw the line with consent? Should every single thing we do be consent driven? 

After reading “Bloodchild” by Octavia Butler, and thinking it about through the lens of consent, it is clear that Butler intended for her story to be read as “a love story between two different beings” or a coming-of-age story but she specifically mentioned that it is not a story of slavery. I must admit that after reading “Bloodchild”, I tried to relate it back to slavery because of the content we have been focusing on in class.

In Taylor’s blog post, she mentioned, “When authors give paratextual consent to interpret their work in one way, I think it presents the reader with a dilemma” and I could not agree more. In Taylor’s blog post, she poses the question, “Does that mean readers may not challenge Butler’s claim that this is a love story?” I believe that as reader, we should have the right to consider what parts of the story relate to slavery. The story does not necessarily have to be about slavery to compare it. We are constantly comparing due to our own personal experiences and knowledge. Each reader brings a different perspective to a text which can complicate things when an author only gives consent to interpret their story one way. I think that a problem arises when a reader tries and tells the author what their own story is about rather than what personal experience and knowledge they have that made them read that story in that particular way.


















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