Conversations about consent can be different depending on gender. Traditionally, much of the conversation around consent has emphasized that girls must do everything within their power to say no. They must be on high alert and do their very best to not become a victim of assault. On the other hand, conversations about consent that involve boys can sometimes lack accountability. Instead, people may focus on ideas like “boys will be boys”.
In addressing this issue, the goal is not to vilify boys. Instead, we must recognize that there are social norms at play that can impact the way different genders view their responsibility around consent.
It is important to teach boys that force is not an acceptable way to display emotion or wants from friends or dating partners. Young men and boys often experience a lot of social pressure to demonstrate their masculinity in very limiting ways.
Additionally, teens of all genders can experience pressure to act in a certain way. It is important to teach boys that they are allowed to be sad and upset, and to teach girls that establishing a boundary does not make them mean or undesirable. Each of these lessons is equally important. Our conversations about consent should be consistent and equal for all young people.