Briefly over zoom, I saw a friend’s sticker about consent, saying it’s like fries. I was really confused. What? Weird comparison.
what it is
Consent to me is clear, comforting, sometimes formal, and crucial. Sacred, even! A standard yet tender way to show love, and give respect and care to other people.
Consent is how I want to build a safer culture, not just for sex–most social activities, we need to know someone’s boundaries and be kind to them in the ways they actually need, not what’s assumed. People vary a lot, and assumptions can be so incorrect. Communicating is important.
I like when consent is an intriguing, vulnerable exchange, people carefully trying to hear one another. Consent can be hot, like the first, “Can I kiss you?” How beautiful, to hear the question I’d been longing for. And that they care enough to ask. I’ve definitely been anxiously lunged at–I prefer a question.
Also fun is when it’s like a ritual–I enjoy when I already know the answer, after years of love, and asking or answering is a beautiful politeness, like saying “thank you” when someone opens the door for me, or “bless you” for a sneeze. Yes, we know one another extremely well, but I will always use manners when I talk with you. Like all the people on earth, you’re worth my respect.
Fries, on the other hand, are delicious, more optional and adjunct to a main dish, kind of hard and pokey, salty, initially too hot to touch. And very informal. Fries are the most casual of foods. Commonplace, simple, few ingredients. Lowbrow and delicious, but not really special.
So yeah, there are a lot of differences, between the two! I was objecting, inside. Comfort is warm and soft, not rigid and hot. Fries are salty. Consent is sweet! But something else was going on, in the zoom, and we moved on to another topic quickly.
the actual image
Then today I was googling, and I saw the sticker image, from Planned Parenthood. It has a cute fry pic. I saw fries is an acronym. Oh, ok! I get it!
Yes, I agree that consent needs to be freely given, reversible, enthusiastic. Specific is nice, unless you are so close to someone for so long that some general-ness is truly appropriate. Informed–not sure what that means.
Hmm, looks like informed means that the decider has a good idea of possible consequences for their choice. And capable of making a decision, like not drunk or otherwise out of their mind. Seems like an ethics term, mostly medical ethics?
Makes sense that we need an honest situation, no trickery allowed. All the background info probably could not be shared, but an expectation of good faith seems fair.
Acronyms like fries remind me of school, a mnemonic device like Please Excuse My Dear Aunt Sally to remember the order of operations for maths.
Thank you for caring about consent. Even if you think you’re on the same page with someone, asking is an act of care. I like many ways to care, like different love languages.
It’s great for all the relationships, but especially when trauma, disability and pain, neurodiversity, craziness, fatness, and other differences are at play. It’s a great habit of balancing your needs with someone else’s, pausing to check in, making sure not to railroad someone. Love is kind.