10 Specific Things to Teach Our Boys About Sex and Consent

In light of the Aziz Ansari story, the reaction to it, and the fact that almost every woman I know (myself included) has at least one similar story, I think we need to do a better job of teaching consent. 

As a parent, it’s my job to teach my children about sex and consent. That means having difficult conversations. That means being specific. And that means answering their questions without flinching—as hard as that is sometimes. 

Now before some of you try to tell me you don’t need to teach your kids about consent because you’re teaching them to wait to have sex until marriage, let me just bust that myth for you. 

First, consent still 100% matters in marriage. Second, statistically, your kids are pretty likely to have sex before marriage no matter what you teach them. If they do, you want them to doing it consensually and not raping people. Sticking your head in the sand, and saying, “Not my child” is not helping anyone. Third, your child may find themselves in a situation where they need to exercise their right to say, “No,” you need to teach them about that right.

Today I want to start with 10 specific things we need to teach our boys about sex and consent. Another day I will write about what we need to teach our girls. And there are many more than 10 things, so I’m sure there will be subsequent lists. But let’s start here.

We need to teach our boys:

  1. No means no. It doesn’t mean try harder, or in a different way, or ask again later.
  2. Only yes means yes. Just because she doesn’t say, “No,” doesn’t mean she’s saying, “Yes.” Always get consent. Never assume.
  3. You may not touch anyone anywhere without their consent. No one may touch you anywhere without your consent.
  4. Women are human beings. They are not objects for you to play with or consume. Respect them. Every single one of them. No matter what.
  5. A person under the influence of alcohol or drugs CANNOT consent. The answer is no.
  6. What she’s wearing does not matter and has nothing to do with you.
  7. If you put your hand, or any other part of your body, or any object on another person’s body and they move it away, DO NOT PUT IT BACK. This is not a game. This is a nonverbal cue. It means stop. So stop.
  8. When it comes to sex and consent, it is NOT better to ask for forgiveness than permission. Always get consent.
  9. You cannot take it back. If you’re unsure whether you should do something, ask, or don’t do it.
  10. The legal age of consent where we live is _____.