TEA AND CONSENT

Not really!
Not really!

I read this interesting – well, at least for the first time – article. Anything on sex always is. So this one replaces hypothetical scenarios concerning sexual consent with consent to drinking tea. So far so good.

I must admit that largely the metaphor works and makes a lot of sense. But (alas there’s always a but) I don’t quite agree with a couple of instances. While I am all for absolute and unambiguous willingness on both individuals’ part to indulge in sexual intercourse – or in this case tea – being of rational and realistic disposition, I must also give leverage to the fact that having tea and having sex are not quite the same.

So here are the two scenarios that I do not find rational and/or practical.

If you say, “Hey, would you like a cup of tea?” and they um and ahh and say, “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, and if they don’t drink it then — this is the important bit — don’t make them drink it. You can’t blame them for you going to the effort of making the tea on the off chance they wanted it; you just have to deal with them not drinking it. Just because you made it doesn’t mean you are entitled to watch them drink it.

Note the ambiguities here: Um, ahh, I’m not really sure. While I have already mentioned that absolute and unambiguous willingness on behalf of both the parties is essential, it so happens that after a little persuasion, initial ambiguity and/or skepticism might just give way to having sex and most definitely tea! Why, in my experience, many a guests we’ve entertained refuse tea only to say ‘yes’ (albeit specifying ‘half cup’) upon being asked not more than twice. Now it’s a different thing that the consequences of agreeing to have half cup tea will most definitely be vastly different from having half-hearted sex.

Point I am trying to make: If you are not sure, then why not fuse the situation (say by being in public places and among groups of friends) and ensure that there is no chance of the question – i.e. tea or sex – being raised further? Is it not naive to expect a person who clearly wants something out of you to not pursue his expectations/motives? Say your friend wants a loan. You are not too willing but can’t say ‘No’ on his/her face. Don’t you think the person will continue nagging you till you make it amply clear that you won’t lend him money? So why treat sexual expectations differently? On the ‘off chance’ that you might after all want it with the person concerned at a later date? Well, you can’t have the cake and eat it too.

Now the second scenario:

They might say, “Yes, please, that’s kind of you,” and then when the tea arrives they actually don’t want the tea at all. Sure, that’s kind of annoying as you’ve gone to the effort of making the tea, but they remain under no obligation to drink the tea. They did want tea, now they don’t. Sometimes people change their mind in the time it takes to boil that kettle, brew the tea and add the milk. And it’s okay for people to change their mind, and you are still not entitled to watch them drink it even though you went to the trouble of making it.   

Now this one’s a no brainer! An ‘absolute’ one at that. While a miniscule percentage of men do have the sense and above all control to not force a woman ‘to have tea’ after they have ‘brewed the tea and added milk’, the majority doesn’t. To expect such magnanimity from even someone you know – let alone a stranger – is sheer stupidity. You are basically asking the guy to be responsible not just for his actions but yours as well. My common sense tells me that once you say ‘Yes please, that’s kind of you’ you are as sure as April comes after March, to have sex. Now just like you can’t expect April to place itself after Jan in your calendar, you can’t expect the average guy to deal with your mood swings and change of mind. If you expect a guy to be responsible for his actions, then you should also have the propensity to take the onus for your own actions.

In conclusion, as much as I like (and agree with) the ‘tea’ metaphor for all other situations described in the original article, I am of the opinion that although simplifying things are usually good, oversimplifying them without attaching importance to the fineprint is not.

P.S: Something that was written long back. Throwback!

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