Video gets consent conversation rolling

Consent is like a cup of tea. Or, if you ask members of the Western community, it’s also like a bike ride.

Some may recognize the first analogy. Earlier this year, the blog Rockstar Dinosaur Pirate Princess posted an entry and video comparing sexual consent to having a cup of tea. It went viral. In the video, without explicit reference to any sexual activity, stick figure animations act out various scenarios in which having a cup of tea is like giving consent.

For instance, if you invite a friend to your house for a cup of tea, and they say, “Yes,” then you know they want a cup of tea. If they said, “No,” you wouldn’t make them tea. You also wouldn’t boil water, brew the tea, then make your friend drink it.

The same analogy applies to a bike ride, as you can see in a new quirky, Western-specific animated video, Cycling Through Consent. The animated figures go through various scenarios in which going for a bike ride is like giving consent.

“If you wanted to go on a bike ride with someone, you would say, ‘Hey, I would like to go on a bike ride with you.’ And they would be like, ‘Hey, I want to go on a bike ride with you.’ Boom! Put on a helmet, kid, you’re going on a bike ride.

You might hear things like ‘This feels great!’ or ‘Keep going!’ These are ways you know they are enjoying the bike ride. …

If they said ‘no,’ they do not want to go on a bike ride with you. You don’t toss them up on a bike and say, ‘Oh, come on, it will be fun.’ No is no. And if they don’t say ‘yes,’ it is still a ‘no.’ The absence of a ‘yes’ is a ‘no.’”

The video was produced by Western’s Department of Housing, in partnership with the Centre for Research and Education on Violence Against Women and Children (CREVAWC).

“It came about through a priority of the university and our department to focus on consent education,” said Angela Treglia, a Housing program coordinator.

Treglia was part of a committee that consulted with students to determine what needed to be the focus of an education initiative this year; ‘consent education’ came out as a necessary topic to tackle. Only 1 in 3 Canadians understand what sexual consent is, she said.

“Consent is key,” Treglia added. “You need to make sure consent is present between all partners involved.”

Housing and Residence staff consulted on what needed to be included as a message, alongside students, CREVAWC, and even alumni, who helped animate, film and edit the video.

“There are different videos present on YouTube that had different approaches to education around consent,” Treglia said.

The Cup of Tea video, as well as more formal, blunt, non-animated examples, were shown to students, in efforts to gauge what approach would resonate.

“We asked which was more memorable, and which one you would be more likely to share and talk about. The tea consent video landed with the students,” she said.

But just showing the Cup of Tea to Western students wouldn’t be enough, the team decided. They wanted to make it their own, including key aspects of consent they felt were missing from the original, like the use of silence and the power of authority in influencing consent.

“The response has been great and the video is really neat – all done by the Western community. Students are watching it, using it and sharing it in a humorous manner and it provides them with a language to talk about consent,” Treglia said.

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JOIN THE CONVERSTAION. Western is hosting a forum, Consent & Compassion: Preventing and Responding to Sexual Violence, from 9 a.m.-1:30 p.m. Monday, Oct. 26. Visit for details.