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In the post-Harvey Weinstein, #MeToo era, everyone is talking about personal boundaries in the pursuit of romantic or sexual relationships. But how many of us remember what we were taught about the critical notion of consent in these situations?
On Episode 66 of The Overcast, Seattle Times education reporter Paige Cornwell joins host Jim Brunner to relay what she learned after putting out a call for reader stories about how – or whether – they learned about the proper conception of consent.
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This episode was recorded at the Seattle studios of public radio 88.5 FM KNKX, as part of an ongoing partnership.
Cornwell’s project drew a lively response, with 250 people sharing their perspective for a project published this week at Seattletimes.com. Responses ranged from high school kids to college students, to people in their 80s, who have seen vast changes in expectations surrounding consent.
Many said they never explicitly learned boundaries of consent growing up, and wish they would have. Others have reconsidered their own memories of past relationships.
Cornwell explains how she got started on the idea after reporting on a forward looking King County curriculum that is teaching kids explicitly about consent and boundaries in relationships.
In the absence of such guidance, she notes, some readers told her how they learned about consent from a popular “Law and Order” TV spinoff. Many regret they didn’t know more as young people.
Cornwell and Brunner also tie in the consent discussion with the larger conversation about abuse of power by men in top positions from politics to the entertainment industry – and explore whether changes are in store from the state Legislature, which has seen its own allegations of harassment and sexual misconduct.
Spoiler: so far, the Legislature will not even release internal records of harassment complaints. Media organizations including The Seattle Times are challenging lawmakers’ insistence that state public disclosure laws do not apply to them.