When a British police force launched a campaign about sexual consent, they knew just which analogy would appeal to its audience: Making a cup of tea.
As part of their #ConsentisEverything campaign, launched at the end of October, Thames Valley Police released a video animated by Blue Seat Studios with words taken from a Rockstar Dinosaur Pirate Princess blog post to get across their message.
The video says that those struggling to understand sexual consent might imagine that, instead of initiating sex, they’re offering to make someone a cup of tea. If you ask if they want a cup and they reply, “Oh my god, I would love a cup of tea. Thank you,” then you know that you can go ahead and make them tea, explains the video.
The animation goes on to address more complicated scenarios. If someone says they’d like a cup of tea but, once you bring the cup to them, they decide they’re not in the mood, then don’t force them to drink the tea. People can change their minds in the time it takes to boil the kettle and steep a teabag.
And if someone’s unconscious, then you definitely shouldn’t pour tea down their throat. “Make sure they are safe. Because unconscious people don’t want tea,” explains the video.
It’s a funny concept, but the analogy does make sense—and can even be extended beyond the scenarios addressed in the video.
Take milk and sugar, for example. You don’t just ask someone if they want tea, but what kind and if they’d like anything added. The same goes for sex: Consenting to one sexual activity doesn’t mean someone’s agreed to various others. We make sure we have constant consent while making someone a cup of tea, and it should be equally straightforward to do the same during sex.
In other words, sexual consent isn’t confusing at all. It’s about as difficult as making someone a cup of tea.