Consent, Tea and Teenagers

Consent in relationships can be a confusing concept for teenagers. Clarity is lost in the sea of endless ‘What if?’ scenarios … What if she says ‘yes’ to begin with, and then says ‘no’? Do you need to ask? What if you can just tell that she’s keen? Do guys need to give consent? Is consent needed for foreplay, or just sex? What if they’re drunk? 

Unfortunately the porn-saturated world of teenagers only adds to the confusion, a point made often by those on the pointy-end of law enforcement. 

This confusion is why I’m thankful for tools that offer clarity to consent. And the short clip Consent is like a Cup of Tea is a good one (see below). 

It creatively communicates the essence of consent and explores common scenarios where consent is needed, but not often sought. By comparing the request for sex to the request for tea it normalises the consent conversation and takes some of the ‘awkward’ out of it. The clip’s humour and wit allow the powerful message to get through our defences. 

I’ve used this video in high schools often when speaking about consent in relationships. Sure, it's a little bit simplistic and still needs explanation, but here are three ways I believe it can open up important conversations and shape a safer community.  

First, it opens up the consent conversation in schools. As I hit play on this clip in a school recently, it became obvious that most of the students had seen it before. I asked the Head of Year about their familiarity after the session. She explained that a few months prior the clip had been distributed to the senior school staff with instructions to show it during first period. It began a conversation about respect in relationships and set a standard for the students to follow. 

Second, it opens up the consent conversation in relationships. Many girls and guys don’t know how to begin the conversation about boundaries and what they are comfortable doing. This clip provides a helpful tool to laugh together as a couple and then talk seriously about expectations. 

And third, it opens up the consent conversation among mates. A chaplain recently explainedthat asking for a cup of tea had become a kind of shorthand for students to make sure that their mates were doing the right thing. At parties it was not uncommon to hear students say to their mates, “Remember, you need to ask if she wants the cup of tea”. I can imagine it worked in a protective sense as well, “Remember, he needs to ask you if you want a cup of tea”. 

Check it out for yourself and pass it on to your students. Perhaps it will help to start a conversation about the issue of consent and help shape a safer community. 

Did you know that Consent in Relationships is one of our most requested presentations? If you’d like to find out more about how we can help your students get clear on consent, contact us here