I went out with a friend to meet a guy she thought was cute. The drinks were nice, the guy was charming. He made funny jokes & proper pop-culture references where required. At the end of the night, he followed my friend into the ladies’ washroom & locked the door behind him to forcibly kiss her.
He apologized later but nothing could be taken back; neither the assault nor the fear that he instilled in us of meeting new “charming” men. He would not be able to return to us the safety of reserved spaces in this world full of unsafe centers & scary corners.

I regularly hear my friends & family talk about friends, relatives, and boyfriends forcing themselves on them. Some persuade & some do what they feel like in spite of being asked not to. I hear more blood-curdling stories of past failings that people only recently got themselves to say out loud. & I feel sad. Angry. Sorry. I have been complicit in these acts, by not being there to hear out the affected, by seeming unapproachable, indifferent, or like I would ask them to “chill”. I have been complicit by not talking to the men & women in my life about consent because I assumed they would tell or because of the fear of being a killjoy, a bore, an angry feminist, or just THAT aunty. I apologize for not asking if you are okay if anyone in your life is making you uncomfortable & for not creating safe spaces for conversations. For not bringing out my own stories for the fear of judgment or the worry that they may curb by freedom.

So now, I promise to talk to my cousins, friends & elders about consent. It will be hushed, and uncomfortable, and it will increase restrictions & I will do it anyway. For now, here I am, doing what I should have done a long time ago, stating the obvious because nothing is. To whoever is reading this: ask for permission before you assume someone wants to kiss you or be touched by you. If someone seems uncomfortable, leave them alone. If they said yes & change their mind later, leave them alone. Walk away from a girl who seems worried about being followed. Remember: getting a hotel room with you, even marrying you is not consent. Talk to people you care about these things. & when they talk just listen.

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