Jameela Jamil explains why consent (sexual consent, especially) is especially difficult for women. (Image via ShortList)
Jameela Jamil explains why consent (sexual consent, especially) is especially difficult for women. (Image via ShortList)

What We Can Learn from Jameela Jamil and Her ‘Enthusiastic Sexual Consent’

Why saying 'yes' is not enough.

You’ve probably heard of sexual consent, but have you heard about “enthusiastic sexual consent”? “The Good Place” actress Jameela Jamil has sparked conversation about what she refers to as “enthusiastic sexual consent.” She came up with this term so women feel empowered to say “no” when they are being pressured into saying “yes.” In order for this to change, both men and women have to converse with each other about their interpretations.

This idea of consent is not trying to attack anyone, but simply opening up a conversation to help people understand the importance of consent in any type of relationship.

There are scores of articles in magazines about how women are supposed to please men, but you don’t see any articles teaching men how to please a woman. There needs to be positive and educative articles that teach both men and women how to communicate efficiently. This will help to create healthy relationships.

Is saying “yes” enough? No, and I will explain why.

Jamil explains how "yes" simply isn't enough when it comes to consent. (Image via Stars Insider)
Jamil explains how “yes” simply isn’t enough when it comes to consent. (Image via Stars Insider)

The “yes” needs to come from a place of enthusiasm and comfort. Women have a tendency to say yes because they’ve been told by society it would be rude to say no. More and more often, you’ll see someone using a woman to get what they want. Saying yes often feels like an obligation rather than a decision.

As a woman, I’ve experienced this as simple as a man telling me “Wow. You are so mean. Why can’t you just give me your number?” Unfortunately, I have given my number to someone because I was feeling pressured and uncomfortable. I should be able to go about my day and say “no” to someone without feeling like they’ll get mad at me.

I have friends who told me stories in which they felt obligated to say yes to a situation they were not comfortable with. Scenarios of giving their number to a stranger or having to be nice when someone is following them to their car at night. I know of women who have said yes just so their partner would leave them alone. This narrative of a woman saying yes to get someone off her back is wrong.

According to Jamil, “If you think that he won’t call you again because you weren’t ready to meet his sexual needs on his schedule, then HE DOESN’T LIKE YOU VERY MUCH. Women have traditionally been taught to please, to placate and to avoid embarrassing a man. This has to stop, and it has to come from us.”

I find it very selfish of men to pressure their partner into doing something that will fulfill their own needs, but forget about their partner’s needs. It’s dehumanizing. What about her needs? Women have needs just like men do. This might sound like an obvious concept, but some people still don’t understand it.

Unfortunately, the social construct is that women are supposed to be submissive to the male gaze. Magazines tend to objectify women, as opposed to teaching them self-love and self-worth. The conversation should be to learn the importance of enthusiastic consent, meaning no one should pressure you into doing something you don’t want to do.

Consent should be emotionally equal for both parties. A woman shouldn’t feel guilted or pressured into having sex because of the idea that women are supposed to “please men.” Women are in constant pressure to look flawless and be perfect. If it isn’t a man who feels entitled to tell us what to do, a magazine will.

This is not to say that all men are bad. However, there are still men who need to learn the importance of consent, especially Jamil’s idea of “enthusiastic sexual consent.”

Jamil talks about how the media and the adult film industry represents women as submissive. The portrayal of women in bed is inaccurate (at times) when it comes to adult films. It has misled men to think women are objects. “Very rarely is a woman’s needs paid much/any attention to in [adult films], and when it is, it’s often illustrated as the woman just happening to enjoy whatever the man does, even if she doesn’t at first, without fail, she always comes round to his brilliant idea, and is the good sport we all hoped she would be” wrote Jamil.

Men need to stop thinking that they will learn how to please a woman from watching these videos because it’s just fantasy. Pure fiction. Women in most adult films are acting, and I hope that’s very clear to everyone watching. I’m not saying that you shouldn’t watch explicit videos, just don’t try to learn from it.

Why is it important that enthusiastic consent is discussed? Women should know they aren’t obligated to please anyone. Jamil also wrote about women faking climaxes and how women’s roles are perceived in the bedroom are, frankly, disgraceful. The idea of a woman “faking a climax” comes from women pleasing their partner instead of communicating with them.

Jamil explains how women often feel the need to fake an orgasm to please their partner. (Image via BBC)
Jamil explains how women often feel the need to fake it to please their partner. (Image via BBC)

No woman should feel like they have to fake a climax. Her needs are just as important as her partner’s needs on all levels.

Communication is key when it comes to relationships. You have every right to say “no” to a situation you don’t want to be involved in. “Women must learn that ‘no’ is a right, not a privilege” she wrote.

I hope you find this idea of enthusiastic consent refreshing and that you can find ways to apply it to your own life. I know I will.

If you want to learn more about Jamil’s idea of “enthusiastic consent,” there is a documentary she released in September called “The New Age of Consent.” Check it out.

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