Leave it to the Brits to perfectly explain sexual consent by comparing it to tea.
"Tea and Consent," a wonderful PSA by the Thames Valley Police featuring stick figures, initially seems like a gross oversimplification that might poorly serve a serious and sensitive subject—or at the very least, open well-intentioned cops up to jokes about British people and their thing about tea.
But the comparison is not only effective, it quite clearly condemns any attempts to claim murkiness around the subject. Because if you get when it is and isn't OK to serve tea, you can't really claim ignorance when your initially willing partner slips into unconsciousness.
The animation was created by Blue Seat Studios, using copy written by blogger Rockstar Dinosaur Pirate Princess, whose original text you can read here. Notably, it has way more expletives. Blue Seat created both an uncensored version and an abridged, more kid-friendly version—which Thames Valley Police preferred for obvious reasons, and is now using for its #ConsentisEverything campaign.
After explaining basic consent ("Oh my God, I would love a cup of tea!"), the video dives headfirst into less evident territory. In less than three minutes, it explores a multitude of scenarios where consent gets blurry, from simple (your guest did want tea, but changed his or her mind once you put the kettle on) to less so (your guest isn't really sure how to feel about tea right now).
"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 that they might not drink it," the narrator says. "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 cutesy quality of the metaphor also enables the narrator to take a hard stance in areas where it's needed: "If they're unconscious, don't make them tea. Unconscious people don't want tea, and they can't answer the question, 'Do you want tea?' Because they're unconscious."
And it explores what to do if an unconscious person consented while conscious, or was conscious when you began, then became unconscious: "You should just put the tea down, make sure the unconscious person is safe, and—this is the important part again—don't make them drink the tea."
Lastly, it reminds people that saying yes to tea once doesn't mean they want you to drop by and make tea every day; and saying yes last night doesn't mean they want to wake up drinking it.
That's a lot of bases tackled, and all in the time it takes someone to have a cup (or not).
"The law is very clear. Sex without consent is rape," Detective Chief Inspector Justin Fletcher of the police force told The Guardian. "Awareness of what sexual consent means and how to get it is vital."
The piece concludes, "If you can understand how completely ludicrous it is to force people to have tea when they don't want tea, and you are able to understand when people don't want tea, then how hard is it to understand when it comes to sex? Whether it's tea or sex, consent is everything."
The narrator then signs off to make himself a cup of tea. Do yourself a favor and don't follow the metaphor down that road—it's too easy, and you're above it! (Even if we're not.)
Though if, for the Brits, tea is more or less equivalent to sex, that explains a lot about the Boston Tea Party. We're hard-pressed to think of any other instance where refusing tea got to be such a big deal.
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