I wore an ‘I love consent’ t-shirt on a night out

Consent is sexy


The term “consent” is often thrown around without much consideration as to what it actually means.

In a  recent poll 61 per cent of you said consent classes in universities were an “unnecessary precaution”, showing how desensitised people have become to the word.

I decided it was about time someone confronted the increasingly taboo subject of consent and embarked upon a night out in Manchester an “I <3 consent” t-shirt to find out what consent really means to you.

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The t-shirt was already turning heads as I popped to Sainsbury’s to buy pres. There was a lot of hushed whispering, making it difficult to work out if they were impressed or just laughing at the knee-high boots and white and pink t-shirt combo.

When I got to the till the cashier complimented the t-shirt and said she thought it was a good message. I was off to a good start.

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The t-shirt went down very well at pres and everyone clearly supported the idea of promoting consent. Suddenly everyone was talking about what consent actually means, which was completely different for everyone.

My friend Freya said: “It’s such a simple concept but it’s not always black and white. A lot of the time it isn’t stated but is simply implied, which blurs the lines and allows people to take advantage or be taken advantage of. Nothing should ever be assumed.

“Consent isn’t a one time thing, it is a constant choice which allows you to stop whenever you want. That is the important thing to remember”

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The night I was going to was called “Dress to Impress”, and I felt so out of place in my t-shirt while everyone else was in sparkly tops and heels.

At least five people told me they “rated” my t-shirt before we even got inside the club, including the bouncer checking my ID.

What really surprised and impressed me was the fact more boys than girls actually approached me to support the idea. It seemed like boys got an undeserved bad reputation for their understanding of consent.

The barman said he’d never seen a consent t-shirt at a champagne reception before. There’s a first time for everything.

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It wasn’t long before we were in the smoking area and a girl approached me asking where my t-shirt was from. Bea, a second year, said she had personal reasons for feeling so strongly about the matter of consent: “Those t-shirts should be on sale in shops everywhere, I agree so much with what you’re doing.”

It was touching to meet someone who felt so strongly about the matter and clearly just wanted to help raise awareness for others.

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I was back inside and waiting at the bar when a group of lads walked past and told me that they “fucking love that so much”.

As per usual, I befriended one of the lovely bouncers, who said that he thought the t-shirt was a great idea. He explained: “There’s always issues of consent on nights out and we always try to look out for people that are too drunk to make accurate choices, but it’s difficult because sometimes they think that’s what they want.”

Talking to him really summed up one of the main issues people have when understanding the concept of consent — how drunk is too drunk?

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The night out was a success, and at 3am we found ourselves walking to the bus stop, passing a group of middle aged and clearly drunk men who started to heckle us.

As we have been conditioned to, we continued to walk and ignored them as they leered at us and made creepy comments such as “Bloody hell, alright love?” and “Where do you think you’re off to?” among their wolf whistles.

Not one of them mentioned the t-shirt. It doesn’t matter what we wear or how we act, girls are going to be targeted regardless and it’s so sad that we are not even surprised at these actions anymore.

Overall the response to the t-shirt on the night was pretty positive and proved that people in Manchester do not shy away from the topic of consent. Almost everyone who spoke to me said they would agree to having consent classes, despite what they told our survey.

I was surprised by how open-minded everyone was — even though I did feel pretty underdressed with my love for consent emblazoned across my chest.