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Mary Kenny

It is time we told young people truth about sex

Mary Kenny



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Difficult subject: some young people are confused over the issue of consent

Difficult subject: some young people are confused over the issue of consent

Difficult subject: some young people are confused over the issue of consent

Young people, according to a recent report, are very confused on the issue of "consent" in an intimate relationship. Some are not entirely clear what "consent" is. Some aren't sure if it's ongoing, or temporary. Some feel unable to voice their consent, or lack of consent, within a relationship. Some lack the confidence to express their "desires and dislikes". Some are worried about feeling bullied, or forced, into sexual relationships, or acts. Some are afraid of repercussions if they refuse to yield. Some are afraid of being judged, rejected, or described as "frigid".

So far as I know, a lot of these worries, concerns and doubts have been around for quite a while. I once trawled through the agony aunt pages back in the 1950s. That's a long time ago, so it's history. Relationships were conducted according to different norms. But one thread was constant, when it came to relationships: anxiety.

The question that most frequently occurred was from young women who felt under pressure to do as their boyfriends requested. This was the perennial, "Should I sleep with my boyfriend? He says that, if I truly loved him, I should do as he wants." There was also, "He says he will leave me unless I do." Girls also asked: "If I sleep with my boyfriend, will he lose respect for me?"