In this age of feminism, the topic of consent has come to the forefront. Kick started by the #MeToo movement in October 2017, it was recently thrown back into the spotlight by the #ThisIsNotConsent movement after the trial and subsequent suicide of a 17-year-old Irish girl, who has been publicly shamed for her choice of undergarments. The normalization of asking consent in our society is something of a breakthrough for the feminist movement, and yet it has come continuously under fire.

In May of 2018, Deanne Carson gave an interview to Australia’s ABC news network in which she stated that parents should be asking their babies for consent before changing them. The internet exploded, with people attacking Carson with comments such as, “This has the potential to be the dumbest thing said ever. Clearly never had a child in her care and if she has would love to have been there when she asked the baby the question. What an idiot.”

The story quickly gained the public spotlight, overshadowing the more important issues which the consent movement had brought up. However, the original intention behind the message was simple: the topic of consent should be taught to children from a young age. While this is important, this is not the issue at hand. The consent movement isn’t focused on asking babies if they want their nappies changed; it is focused on the pervasive ‘rape culture’ in our society today and the continued ignorance of sexual abuse perpetrated by (mostly) men in positions of power. Unfortunately, there are many examples of this in our society today, such as the recent sexual assault scandal surrounding R Kelly, the American R&B star who has been confronted with sexual assault allegations since the early 1990’s. These allegations came to the forefront in late 2017 to 2018, when multiple women approached the BBC with their allegations and a documentary was produced. This kicked off the #MuteRKelly movement, which ended in his music being removed from many music streaming platforms, and Sony music dropping him. The people in positions of power don’t seem to be paying attention to the main issues, such as the Texas girl who was assaulted by her fraternity president. The fraternity president, Jacob Walter Anderson, was fined only $400.  

This nappy story is just one example of people ‘cherry-picking’ and taking quotes out of context in order to discredit the consent movement, making it look ridiculous in the eyes of the media and the government, while in reality, advocates for the consent movement are speaking out about the real issues in our society. Statements such as the one issued by Carson are used by many to ridicule the consent movement as a whole, giving them pause to doubt the stories of women who have actually undergone sexual abuse.

Distorting the common sense of the need for a consent movement with a nappy story is not what the consent movement stands for. The movement stands for positive change for women’s rights, something which those who belittle the movement are obviously against.

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