Young people lost between Stop it and Stop it, I like it

02 Oct 2018

Popular fast food chain, Kentucky Fried Chicken has posted a huge bill board with a play on what is probably Botswana’s most popular coquettish oxymoron: “Stop It, I like It”

At the best of times, the phrase conveys the idea that the sexual allure (or other emotion inspired) is so overwhelming it cannot be resisted. In such cases it is understood as a comic exaggeration of the enchantment. 

At the worst of times however, there is nothing comical about it, and it can be the difference between rape and consensual sex when an aggressive suitor misreads a no as a “stop it, I like it.”

Senior Sociology lecturer at the University Of Botswana, Dr Sethunya Mosime says a lot of young people don’t talk about their relationships at great length to understand themselves and what they want. “Consent is a very crucial element in any relationship, a lot of these relationships these days go left because partners feel entitled to their significant other – sexually and otherwise. Both partners in relationships should keep giving, and looking for, consent, just because you’ve given consent to an act before, doesn’t mean it becomes a “given” every time. This idea also relates to new relationships — just because you’ve given consent to something in a different relationship doesn’t make it “automatic” in a new relationship.” She says a lot of young people need to know that there is no such thing as implied consent - the absence of a “no” does not equal a “yes.”

Often times when consent is discussed it is in the context of sexual assault and or intimate partner violence. Many people have experienced non-consensual sex at the hands of a long-term partner.

Consent is when one person agrees or gives permission to another person to do something. It means agreeing to an action based on your knowledge of what that action involves; its possible consequences and having the option of saying no. The phrase no means no in its entirety is true but it often doesn’t really provide a picture of consent because it puts the responsibility on one person to resist or accept an activity. One of the most dangerous (but popular) misconceptions about consent between couples is the belief that you don't need to obtain consent from your partner simply because they're your partner.

Baruti Kgamanyane a call help assistant Mascom head office; she says consent is very important in relationships.”When you enter a romantic relationship, I believe there is one kind of intimacy that you must participate in, and if you find that you can no longer participate in it, you have a responsibility to end the relationship. I’m referring to honest, open communication. Being able to share, to the best of your ability, who you are in a relationship, is critical for that relationship to be consensual. You must give your partner the opportunity to make an informed decision to be in that relationship. If you lie to your partner or withhold critical information, you remove their ability to consent to be in the relationship.” She says Most important is to communicate those things that might be deal-breakers, or might be threatening to your partner’s emotional or physical health

Consent between long-term partners isn’t always specifically about sex, it can also be about the boundaries that partners set in their relationships regarding friends and even exes. A lot of young Batswana don’t work toward creating a space where they feel safe expressing what they want in their relationship, sexually and otherwise hence the passion killings and rape incidents that are going on. Young people in relationships tend to assume their partner has the same boundaries that they do which isn’t always the case and if one party does not like or agree with what the other does it either gets violent or deadly. 

Some people worry that talking about or getting consent will be awkward or that it will “ruin the mood,” if anything, the mood is much more positive when both partners feel safe and can freely communicate about what they want. In a consensual romantic relationship you always choose the intimacy you engage in, intimacy is anything that enters into your personal boundaries, it might be sleeping together, sex, emotional sharing, living together, having certain shared experiences, or making shared choices. The reason this is so important is that when there is an implied obligation, the relationship can easily become coercive. It is actually really difficult to avoid coercion in romantic relationships. Coercion happens when the consequences to saying “no” to intimacy become so great that it removes any reasonable choice, there is more obvious coercion, such as threats, either externally or internally directed. But often, coercion arises when one partner believes that their partner, in that moment, owes them intimacy.

Maikano Bosele is a pre-school teacher at Hibiscus pre-school in Gaborone says consent goes hand in hand with respect. “In a healthy relationship, it’s important to discuss and respect each other’s boundaries. It’s not okay to assume that once someone consents to an activity, it means they are consenting to it anytime in the future as well. Whether it’s the first time or the hundredth time, a hook-up, a committed relationship or even marriage, nobody is ever obligated to consent to something, even if they’ve done it in the past. A person can decide to stop an activity at any time, even if they agreed to it earlier. Above all, everyone has a right to their own body and to feel comfortable with how they use it.”  She says you can force someone to make a certain choice, or coerce them into that choice, but if you lie or withhold information from a partner, you deny them even the ability to know there was a choice to be made.