Twitter user Nafisa Ahmed used an analogy to break down consent by drawing a parallel between consent and borrowing money.
Editor's note: This article was originally published on May 22, 2021. It has since been updated.
Trigger warning: This story contains themes of sexual assault that some readers may find distressing.
Consent shouldn't be too hard to get, but frustratingly, it's a concept lot of people can't wrap their heads around. The lack of sexual consent almost always stems from a sense of entitlement over other people's bodies. Twitter user Nafisa Ahmed decided to use an analogy breaking down consent for people, especially men. She explained the difference between rape and consent in five simple tweets by drawing a parallel between consent and taking money, and it hits the spot. “I don’t get how rape is so hard to understand for some men,” Ahmed wrote in a series of tweets that have gone viral on Twitter.
I don't get how rape is so hard to understand for some men. But, if you put it like this, they get it:— nafisa "✌🏽🤏🏽🤏🏽" ahmed (@thatxxv) August 16, 2016
If you ask me for $5, and I'm too drunk to say yes or no, it's not okay to then go take $5 out of my purse... Just because I didn't say no.— nafisa "✌🏽🤏🏽🤏🏽" ahmed (@thatxxv) August 16, 2016
If you put a gun to my head to get me to give you $5, you still stole $5. Even if I physically handed you $5.— nafisa "✌🏽🤏🏽🤏🏽" ahmed (@thatxxv) August 16, 2016
If I let YOU borrow $5, that doesn't give the right for your FRIEND to take $5 out of my purse.— nafisa "✌🏽🤏🏽🤏🏽" ahmed (@thatxxv) August 16, 2016
"But you gave him some, why can't I?"
If you steal $5 and I can't prove it in court, that does NOT mean you didn't steal $5.— nafisa "✌🏽🤏🏽🤏🏽" ahmed (@thatxxv) August 16, 2016
Nafisa Ahmed's explanation was similar to the tea analogy that explained sexual consent. The three-minute video was produced as part of a 2015 campaign by Thames Valley Police. The video featured animated stick figures as people and used a cup of tea as an analogy for sex. "If you say, ‘Hey, would you like a cup of tea?,' and they're like, 'Uh, you know, I'm not really sure,' then you can make them a cup of tea, or not, but be aware that they might not drink it,” starts the video, explaining consent. "And if they don't drink it, then, and this is the important bit, don't make them drink it. Just because you made it doesn't mean you're entitled to watch them drink it. And if they say, ‘No thank you,' then don't make them tea. At all.”
The video also explains consent in situations where the person may not be conscious enough to make their decision. "Maybe they were conscious when you asked them if they wanted tea, and they said 'yes.' But in the time it took you to boil the kettle, brew the tea and add the milk, they are now unconscious. Don’t make them drink the tea. They said ‘yes’ then, sure, but unconscious people don’t want tea.” This particular line stressed that sexual consent exists until it doesn't. Affirming sexual consent is needed throughout the act and not just at the beginning. The video was made in the wake of Brock Turner, a student, who was accused of sexually assaulting an unconscious woman on the Stanford University campus in 2015.
The system, largely aided by the media characterized Turner as a champion swimmer, while his victim was often portrayed as the “drunk girl at the party,” reported The Guardian. The prosecutor argued that Turner should spend six years in prison but Judge Aaron Persky ruled that he should be jailed for just six months. After spending three months behind bars, Brock Turner walked out of a California jail, reported CNN. Persky made a case for Turner citing his age and the "severe impact" a state prison sentence would have on an offender. It highlighted the ordeal and justice served to sexual assault victims.
Smith, the then Santa Clara County sheriff spoke out against the ruling. "As the Sheriff of Santa Clara County and a mother I believe that the interests of justice are best served by ensuring that sexual predators are sent to prison as punishment for their crime," she wrote. "Victims of these types of sexual assaults struggle for years to cope with the damage done to their lives and knowing that there is more just punishment to those that perpetrated these assaults may provide some solace to these victims."
Cases like this are a reminder that we have a long way to go as far as defining and understanding what sexual consent means, even if it may sound simple. Hopefully, Nafisa Ahmed's explanation goes a long way in breaking it down for people out there, creating a safe world.
If you are being subjected to sexual assault, or know of anyone who is, please call the National Sexual Assault Hotline at 800.656.HOPE (4673).