Consent laws – Australia
This is taken from a website that is meant to inform people especially young people about consent and what it is in a sexual relationship. This comes from the Kids Helpline so it is specifically designed for young people to read and understand.
As chart shows if someone is in a position where the other party has power over them then the person cannot give consent even if they want to. This applies in situations like teacher and student. The teacher can not accept consent from a student even if the student gives it.
However in many relationships this law is a nonsense. As a therapist you come across this sort of thing all the time.
An asymmetry of power in a relationship would generally be the norm, not the exception and it is constantly changing as relationships change and develop. It is rare that both parties will sense equal power in a relationship for an extended period of time. Sometimes the power differential is small and some times it is large and it is changing. When the man and wife were getting married he may have been the powerful one in the relationship. After five years of marriage that may have changed and she is then the powerful one in the relationship. What this means is that on the important issues the powerful one will tend to get their way, such as with managing money, children, in-laws and sex.
There are many relationships at the moment where the man is the powerful one and the woman perceives herself to be the less powerful one in the relationship. According to Australian law she cannot give consent to sexual contact even if she wants to. If they have sex then he is having non consensual sex with her. In many current relationships in Australia that means he is currently having non consensual sex with her sometimes multiple times a week.
The 16 year old girl with the 18 year old boyfriend who also happens to have a car and lives in a flat separate from his parents, can easily be imbued with considerable power in the relationship by her, much more than she perceives herself to have. This means under Australian law he cannot have sex with her even if she consents. If he does then he is having non consensual sex with her.
The problem is the they (the helpline) don’t tell the young people this, because it is politically incorrect to say so. They need to tell people, especially young people, the truth and the whole truth about such consent. At the moment that is not happening as that chart shows. People, particular young women need to be told that sometimes they may consent to sex when they don’t want to, as they see the other party as more powerful than them. They can be told that this is not right and certainly be told that they don’t have to do that, but in most relationships at some point at least there will be an asymmetry of power and then the less powerful one will consent to things which they don’t want to.
Most people will at sometime consent to something that they don’t want to consent to because of the relationship dynamics they currently see they are in with the other person. We all do this. Some people do it a lot.
There is an entire industry built on this relationship dynamic. Workshops, seminars, books, webinars and so forth on assertion training. This book shown here was a best seller for a long time. We all do it. Consent to something what we really don’t want to do because we feel it is important for the relationship at that point in time. In my work as a psychologist you come across this type of thing all the time.
Young people, especially young females need to be told the whole truth about consent.
All relationships have an asymmetry of power.
All people at some time will consent to things they don’t want to do because of this.
Often it is about minor things but sometimes it will be about important things like sexual relationships.
Some people will consent to sex many times when they do not want to do it.
Some of the reasons women have given for consenting to sex when they don’t want to are:
Sense of feeling duty bound
Not knowing what I want
Not wanting to upset the other person
I see it as fulfilling my conjugal duties
I do it to keep him happy
The consent transaction could be drawn as such