Dayo Adedapo is an accomplished professional working in a global bank and an amateur philosopher. Look him up on Twitter @TrophyHusbandD where he discusses a varied range of topics from Feminism to Politics via musings of Love Island.
Dayo enjoys eating, procrastinating and drinking wine and he lives in Northampton UK with his partner who is also a banker. Dayo aspires to be an author once he gets the whole ‘procrastination’ thing out of his system. Look out for his book in 2020 or 2030…depending.
This week we had a conversation about consent and toxic masculinity and here is what he had to say.
What does consent mean to you?
Consent to me begins from understanding and most crucially accepting the autonomy of another person’s body and space. I think that may seem like a broad answer, because it is. I have come to understand that most people don’t understand consent in a broad sense and that has translated itself to a lack of understanding it in a sexual context. When you don’t respect a person’s autonomy, especially when a person has more social power than (tacitly or explicitly) then it’s almost impossible to seek that person’s consent.
It begins at childhood where we see adults ‘doting’ on children. Grabbing them, hugging them, kissing them without trying to understand if that’s what they want or not. It moves on to boys in school who begin to see themselves as entitled to a girl’s time and space for one reason or another, but that’s just learned behavior. No one ever sought their consent, nor have they seen anyone do so with girls. Then, there’s young men in clubs who have not learned consent or are so sketchy on consent that many of them actually believe that a woman choosing to be in the club is automatically given up her autonomy and consenting to be danced with or that buying her drinks entitles them to her time, body and more irrespective of whether she asked for those drinks or not.
Like I said it’s just horribly learned behaviour that you see in society. People touching your hair or your other parts of your body in admiration but without asking if they could, work colleagues encroaching on personal space based off perceived familiarity… So going back, respecting autonomy and the space of another person is crucial to understanding consent.
Who would you say is responsible for consent? Education, parents, schools, activists?
It definitely begins with parents. I see some parents these days doing some wonderful work instilling the concept of consent in their kids early. Of course, parenting with consent isn’t easy, but it is absolutely necessary.
I also think schools aren’t exempt from responsibility here. I learned a topic called Social Studies in school and it was absolutely useless in preparing me for the world in a social way. I think we could re-introduce a subject like social studies as Social Learning: Living with others, which would introduce children very early to consent, fairness and being accepting of others different from them. This is where activists can play a crucial role because not all teachers are equipped to teach that. Activists like The Consent Workshop (TCW) can help upskill teachers as well as directly train kids…..I probably should trademark ™ that new subject idea or something ha-ha!
It also would be beneficial to introduce Key Skills in Schools so that subjects like Critical Thinking and Comprehension can be learned, because if the Internet has taught me one thing, it is that this is sorely lacking in traditional education.
In what ways can we learn to be more clear about our own sexual boundaries and make the giving of our consent more transparent?
I think in some ways we need to empower people (especially women) to feel more comfortable vocalising how they feel. I think consent is dynamic in that it is less like clicking ‘Yes’ to the Terms and Conditions on a website or application and more about communication…”yes I’m comfortable with that, and no I’m not comfortable with that”. However I’m very aware that’s an easy thing to say. A lot of women are rightfully very fearful on communicating either their discomfort with an action and about their boundaries because it could illicit a violent response from a man. So I think as much as we talk about empowering women to feel more comfortable vocalising their concerns etc. I think the bulk of the work has to be done educating men about boundaries, about the intricacies of consent. It’s not rocket science as much as some people will want you to believe it’s tricky. Consent isn’t coercion or pressure or trickery or begging or threatening. Consent is verbal, vocal, enthusiastic, and should be constantly sought.
Why is early consent and sex education important and what is the ideal age to begin teaching young children about consent?
I think a lot of what we know as social morality we learned from an early age and so consent education should start as soon as possible. Consent education if done right with toddlers means that when they’re old enough to start sex education discussions you’re starting at a level of knowledge of respecting space and autonomy. It will make sex education infinitely easier.
If you had a friend with a problematic view about consent, what steps would you take to educate this person and what would you define as Consent 101?
I’d like to think I don’t currently consider someone I call a friend with problematic views about consent; but if I did discover this, then I will do what I do when challenging Patriarchal viewpoints, which is to explain in very clear terms why their view is harmful. I have always thought people understand better & quicker when they are the potential victims of a lack of consent, so I’d try to make them see themselves in the other person’s shoes and I believe anyone with half a brain will be able to connect the dots as to why that’s unacceptable.
The one thing I always say is when challenging people, don’t expect them to accept to your face that they’re wrong. A lot of people have a very hard time doing that, and struggle to not be defensive in the moment. State your views very clearly and let it sit with them. When they think about it more that evening when you’re not there, they more often that not will reach the right conclusions. Then ask them another time when things are less emotionally charged and you’ll find a more receptive individual. I have also walked away from acquaintances that are problematic and who are unrelenting, unable or unwilling to learn… I don’t need those kinds of people in my life.
Sexual Assault Resources
Despite the increase in talks about consent, there are still high numbers of rape cases every day. How else would you suggest tackling this?
I think there’s always a small chance of the fact the talks aren’t filtering through to the right people but like I said that’s a very small chance. Mainly I believe that the punishment for rape has to be more penal and public. If people won’t understand and respect consent, then perhaps they should fear the consequences of not respecting consent. However, I genuinely believe the talks are working. There is definitely more awareness around consent and rape for sure. So I absolutely advocate for more education and not less, I just think having it at an earlier age would be most beneficial.
Do you think governments around the world are friendly to victims of sexual assault? In a perfect world, what would they be doing right?
I think the world as a whole hasn’t been kind to victims of sexual assault as they tend to be overwhelmingly women and more often than not governments are a reflection of its people, so the short answer is no, I cannot say they have been friendly to victims of sexual assault.
In an ideal world, police officers would be better trained in how to spot the signs of sexual abuse and assault and be well versed in protecting vulnerable assault victims. Assault cases should be treated as seriously as robbery and be believed as the victims of robbery are believed. In an ideal world, governments would provide appropriate funding to educate from a much younger age on consent, funding programs like yours TCW and the Hands Off initiative that have proven very impactful in this arena is definitely a way to go. Governments should take the lead in zero tolerance to assault and rape by cracking down on companies and religious organisations that have repeatedly proven to be nesting ground for such abhorrent behaviour.
What would you say are the appropriate consequences for sexual predation?
I really could talk about this all day and be inflammatory about it but the reality is I know very little on what the right consequence is. What I do know is that what we have right now in terms of consequences isn’t nearly enough. Too many cases are dropped or not pursued, and punishment is very light touch so there’s no real fear of consequences at the moment and that’s very frustrating and troubling. I know this, that if the predominant victims of sexual assault and rape were men, the consequences would be more penal and stringent that we have at the moment.
Masculinity and Marriage
A lot of times, men do not understand what consent is, why do you think that is and what would you say is the next step?
I think the point I made earlier about social power stands here. For years men have abused the social power they have and have normalised not respecting the autonomy of women’s bodies and space. I think more men understand consent than they let on, because they understand consent and power when they’re the victims.
What would be your approach if your friend told you he thinks he raped someone?
Gosh I hope never to experience this. I really don’t know if I have the emotional bandwidth and equilibrium to deal with it. However, the first thing to do is to find out more information from him on everything that happened. Next, I’d ask him to get in touch with the person he thinks he raped and meet with them (not alone). I’d suggest they both bring one person along as support and hear out his victim. How his supposed actions impacted them and most importantly try to show that he is there to apologise and listen to what they want to do next whether it is reporting it or otherwise. I think everything has to be done for the victim as they did not ask or want to be in this situation. That’s how I would approach it… I think.
How do you intend teaching your sons about consent? Especially in a patriarchal world like the one we live in.
I am not certain that I want children at the moment, but if I am ever lucky to do so, I plan to teach them directly and indirectly. Directly by telling them to cherish their autonomy but also that of their siblings and friends. But also indirectly by being a good example of acting with consent at all times. Asking them if it’s okay to hug or kiss them, respecting their personal space and their bodies etc.
What responsibility do men have to talk about consent with our guy friends, especially those with problematic views?
I think men are probably better placed to have the consent talk with other men simply because of patriarchy i.e. men unfortunately tend to take the concerns of other men more seriously than they do women. So they have a lot of responsibility. But also we talked about consequences not being penal enough, and we men need to be more stringent on the men who don’t respect consent and stop treating them like they have some minor personality flaw or a difference of opinion. No, we have to have a more zero-tolerance attitude towards those who have problems with consent. For example, I refuse to be an acquaintance or to be friendly in any way with a man who is known for being a physical and emotional abuser as well as a marital rapist. Irrespective how many mutual friends we have in common or how much social re-branding he performs. As long as men like that are still embraced and accepted then we are also embracing their actions. So we still have a lot of work to do in terms of holding other men accountable for their actions.
What are your views on toxic masculinity? And what ways would you suggest to tackle it?
Toxic Masculinity in many ways has caused so much damage to men and everyone else has become unwitting victims of this false definition of what being a man is all about. I’d say more but I’d hate to spoil an upcoming book for you all 😉. Allow me to say this though, it isn’t anyone else’s responsibility to fix other than men, we have to take ownership for the damage caused by Toxic Masculinity and ensure that as we become a more knowledgeable generation (or rather the most exposed to knowledge) that we combat it for future generations.
How do you tackle consent as a married man? Are there cases you’ll want to share?
I often talk about the unhelpful parts of the institution of marriage and one of the most harmful ideas of marriage is the idea of ownership. A lot of people take that to mean that they physically own their wife or husband’s body. This is a very dangerous narrative. Nothing, not marriage, not the tradition of paying a dowry or bride price, absolutely nothing, takes away the autonomy of another adult’s body or space. It’s why you see so many cases of marital assault and rape.
You even see it in relationships. Men in relationships with little or zero understanding of consent become husbands with no concept of consent, and nothing changes about their reprehensible behaviour, except their title. Of course, there are a few examples of this but I’d rather not break confidences. I am very fortunate that in mine we are both very hyper aware about consent and how it’s not a rigid, “yes to all” and we’re always very respectful of each other’s autonomy. I guess it’s less about fortune and more the fact that we constantly communicate about everything and we make sure we don’t abuse the other person’s autonomy.
How do you think we can use social media to cultivate healthy masculinity?
I think social media can be so useful in combating toxic masculinity as it can be used to show that men experience all ranges in emotion not limited to lust, hunger and anger. I think sharing who we are, and what we feel can start to break the harmful myth that emotions are a gendered experience, and more men begin to acknowledge and process their emotions better. More than emotions, it is actually a good way to show that there isn’t one single way to be a man. Your actions, your likes, dislikes, your hygiene, your sexuality, your hobbies, all the little intricacies of you being human doesn’t make you more or less of a man. You are a man because you simply are; and you are you because of all of those things. Long may it continue on social media that we share these messages.