I often listen to the Podcast, This American Life. If you haven’t ever heard it, I encourage you to try it. Each episode consists of three sections which revolve around one general theme. The stories are often riveting, the reporting excellent and often I learn something new.
A recent episode, entitled The Birds and the Bees focused on (contrary to what you would think from the title) 3 topics that are difficult to discuss with children: racism, death, and sexual consent. All three topics were handled with sensitivity, compassion and humor. But what blew me away was Channa Joffe-Walt’s (the host) seemingly simple, but oh-so-profound conclusion at the end of the first segment. After listening to it I realized that she had articulated something that has been bothering me for a long time. When people talk about training college students in “sexual consent”, it has always felt to me like we are dealing with a symptom, not a problem. When I hear someone describe a seminar on sexual consent it has always felt to me like we are papering over a hole and despite the fact that we can’t see it, the hold is still there. What Channa Joffe-Walt ultimately asks is:
How in the world can we talk about sexual consent in any meaningful way when people aren’t really able to talk to their partner about sex at all?
I urge you to listen at the very least to the prologue and Act I. And then let’s start talking.