Teaching Consent, Not Modesty To Gen Z Is What We Need
Recently, a viral video from the Indian state of Manipur, showing dozens of men parading and assaulting two women who have been stripped naked, has triggered outrage in the country.
The heinous act must lead to an understanding – In a world grappling with complex issues surrounding gender equality and personal agency, empowering the next generation of young individuals is crucial.
Traditional modesty teachings have often been utilised to govern women’s bodies and choices,
perpetuating harmful gender norms. Instead of focusing on modesty, we must shift our approach towards teaching consent.
By instilling a deep understanding of consent in the minds of young people, we can create a culture that respects boundaries, fosters empathy, and empowers individuals to make informed decisions about their bodies and relationships. Teaching consent over modesty can pave the way for a more inclusive and respectful society.
The Problem with modesty
For generations, women have been taught that their value lies in their modesty, often translating to how they dress and behave.
This approach objectifies women and reinforces the notion that their bodies are objects of desire for others. The burden of modesty is placed solely on women, creating an unfair power dynamic where they are held responsible for the actions of others. This perpetuates victim-blaming and detracts from the importance of personal autonomy and consent.
Moreover, modesty varies across cultures and communities, leading to confusion and judgment. What may be considered modest in one culture could be immodest in another. Such discrepancies create unnecessary conflict and further alienate individuals from one another.
Shifting the narrative from modesty to consent is a powerful step towards empowering the next generation. Consent is not merely a checkbox to mark off before engaging in a physical relationship; it is an ongoing process of communication and respect.
Teaching consent goes beyond sex education; it encompasses all aspects of life, from physical touch to emotional connection.
Establishing boundaries and communication: Consent education begins with understanding personal boundaries. Children should be taught to have the right to decide who touches their bodies and how. Encouraging open communication early helps children feel comfortable expressing their feelings and asserting their boundaries.
This practice fosters trust and respect between individuals and lays the groundwork for healthy relationships later in life.
Empathy and respect for others: Teaching consent goes hand in hand with nurturing empathy and respect for others. Young people must be taught to consider how their actions and words might impact someone else. Understanding and valuing the feelings and perspectives of others are essential aspects of consent education.
By instilling these qualities, we create a society where individuals treat each other with kindness and compassion.
Navigating digital spaces: In the age of technology, it is vital to teach digital consent as well. Young individuals should understand the importance of seeking permission before sharing someone else’s images or personal information online. Online privacy and boundaries must be respected, just as they are in the physical world.
Redefining masculinity and femininity: Traditional modesty teachings often reinforce rigid gender roles, placing an undue burden on girls to be modest and boys to be aggressive. Consent education challenges these norms, allowing individuals to define their gender identity and expression freely. Breaking free from these stereotypes creates a more inclusive and accepting society.
Implementing consent education in schools and communities can have a profound and lasting impact on the next generation. By prioritising consent, we empower young individuals to make informed decisions and protect their boundaries. Here are some of the positive outcomes of consent education:
Reduced instances of harassment and assault: Teaching consent dismantles the culture of entitlement and objectification, decreasing
instances of harassment and assault. Individuals who understand the importance of consent are less likely to engage in aggressive behaviour towards others.
Improved mental health and self-esteem: A culture prioritising consent promotes positive self-image and mental well-being. When individuals are respected and empowered to make choices, their self-esteem flourishes, and they feel valued as human beings beyond their appearance.
Empowering the next generation through consent education is a transformative step towards creating a more equitable and compassionate society.
By shifting away from modesty, we can enable young individuals to embrace their autonomy, set boundaries, and respect the agency of others. Consent education fosters empathy, dismantles harmful gender norms, and cultivates a culture of respect and understanding.
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