While sexual consent is simple in theory, too many people are still fuzzy on what "yes means yes" looks like in practice. And to help clarify, over the past year, clever awareness campaigns have taken to comparing sex to more innocuous activities such as drinking a cup of tea or ordering gravy on your french fries.
But Project Consent, a non-profit that “aims to combat and deconstruct rape culture,” decided that the best way to address the subject was to do so more directly. Which is how they arrived at their new campaign, starring these delightful animated body parts:
These 18-second videos, created by Juniper Park, a Toronto-based ad agency, have received generally positive reviews since they debuted. They’re oddly cute, and also a bit brilliant. By illustrating the often unspoken in-between moments when consent can be most complicated, they ultimately show just how simple it can be, embracing the awkwardness.
“We don't dance around the topic,” Sara Li, founder and head of Project Consent told me in an email, explaining that the campaign aimed to “open discussion using a cheeky (no pun intended) visual to stimulate talk.”
The concept is candid, and a refreshing change of pace amid the various metaphor-based campaigns, which run the risk of distracting from the point of the conversation—that is, sex.
Last year, for example, Britain's Crown Prosecution Service released this popular video comparing sex to a cup of tea (very British):
And the Canadian Women’s Foundation also took a symbolic approach in their “Get Consent” campaign, comparing a violation of consent to getting way too much gravy on a plate of french fries (very Canadian), among other scenarios:
“We wanted to talk about consent frankly, and we felt like it was unnecessary to use symbolic replacements in these discussions,” Li told me, explaining why they opted to put consent back into a sexual context. “Consent shouldn't be difficult or hard to talk about; we shouldn't need to use tea or anything else to explain what is or isn't inappropriate.”
Until more people become comfortable speaking openly about consent, all the various metaphors can be helpful to spark dialogue—but by bringing it back to the bare-naked basics, Project Consent shows that consent really can be simple.