Now that the school year is winding down and summer is here (yay!), I thought it might be nice to give you all a few pro-consent songs to add to your summer playlist! In recognition of SAAM (Sexual Assault Awareness Month), which occurred throughout April, it’s important that we view the media as a very important factor in the ways that sexual assault and rape are represented in our culture. All too often we see romantic movies which promote stalking (the man chasing the woman down and pursuing her by any means necessary, to the result of her eventual, “romantic” surrender) or listen to music which promotes coercion or degrading and objectifying messages, often contributing to rape culture (need I mention “Blurred Lines”?). So when we come across examples of media that represent sexual encounters in a healthy way, why not give them a shout out?
A quick definition of consent, for those who may not know: consent is a clear and freely given yes, not the absence of a no. It must be obtained by the pursuer of sexual contact, and cannot be obtained through coercion or threat. Consent to some sexual activity (i.e. kissing) does not mean consent to all sexual activities.
Here are some songs that advocate for the use of consent:
Just Friends – Musiq Soulchild
Girl I know this might seem strange
But let me know if I’m out of order
For stepping to you this way
This song is a perfect example of consistently checking in with your partner (or desired partner) to make sure that they are safe and comfortable with everything that is going on (“And you can just chill with us or you can just chill with me, long as you’re comfortable and you feel secure when you’re with me”). Unlike in many songs, the pursuer isn’t claiming control over their desired partner, or coercing them into sexual activity. It is very clear that the person being pursued has free choice whether or not they want to get involved with the speaker, and to what degree they want to get involved in. The speaker makes it very clear that they aren’t pressuring the person to do any more than they are comfortable with. It’s still a sexy song, just minus any degradation or crossing of unwanted boundaries. What a refreshing idea! (There’s also a pretty cool cover of this done by Ernie Halter, if anyone’s interested).
Green Light – John Legend
Come just a little bit closer
I just need permission so
Give me the green light
Give me just one night
I’m ready to go right now
What better metaphor for consent than a green light? It couldn’t be a clearer message. This song is another great example of asking for permission and waiting to receive a clear signal back before attempting further activity. Consent and a super fun song all wrapped into one? Yes, please.
A Kiss is Not a Contract – Flight of the Conchords
A kiss is not a contract
But it’s very nice
It’s very nice
Just because you’ve been
Exploring my mouth
Doesn’t mean you get to take
An expedition further south, no
The title of this one pretty much says it all. “A Kiss is Not a Contract” describes one of the most prevalent rules of consent – consent to some sexual activity does not mean consent to all sexual activity, no matter the circumstance. Just because you kiss somebody doesn’t mean you’re signing on to go home and sleep with them. As the hilarious duo Bret and Jemaine so eloquently put it, “Just because you’ve been exploring my mouth doesn’t mean you get to take an expedition further south”. I also think it’s cool that these ideas are expressed by men, who stereotypically are the ones that are always told they should have no sexual boundaries – any sex is good sex. Although these issues are more prevalent for women, it’s good to recognize that men can and are affected by them as well.
Yes – Beyonce
I said yes to your number
And yes to you dating me
Yes we can be together
But you gotta wait for me
The first time I said no
Its like I never said yes
This song isn’t necessarily the best example of consent, as Beyonce’s love interest has a negative reaction when he is told “no” for the first time. However, it is a good example of how a clear “yes” is necessary for consent, and how saying yes to multiple things does not mean saying yes to all. In this song, Beyonce does a great job of empowering herself and only saying yes to what she is ready to do, and of shutting her partner down when she doesn’t see consent being in the picture. However, I want to stress that it is ultimately the job of the pursuer to gain consent, and not the job of the one being pursued to have to set boundaries.
Those are just a few of the songs I found that had some good representations of consent. If you know of or want to find any more, please send them our way! I had a harder time finding songs about consent by female-identified artists, so if anyone can find good examples of this that would be great. Have fun with your consensual summer playlist!
Hannah Serwe, Chair
Alex Gregorski, Outreach Coordinator
Elena Santi, Volunteer Coordinator
Emily Quandt, Communications Coordinator
Jess Utterback, Finance and Office Coordinator
Jess Walowit, Peer Education Coordinator
Taewee Kahrs, Peer Education Coordinator
Kari Hajduk, Peer Facilitator
Carol Daniels, Peer Facilitator
Sophie Nielsen, Evaluation Coordinator
Join the NSVRC today at 2pm! Did you do anything for SAAM? Ideas for next April?