Back in the dating game? You might need a refresher course in consent

“We tell our kids no means no, but what happens if you’re an adult and don’t say no?” she said. “What if you froze through lack of confidence, through disbelief, and said nothing?”

Anna walked away, unsure if she was madder at you or herself for not being more forceful.

In the age of social media and revenge porn, our kids have grown up knowing all about consent. Is it time the previous generation – many heading back into dating after divorce – had a refresher course on what’s fun and what’s against the law, in business and pleasure?

This week, a former employee of ex-federal MP Craig Kelly told a Sydney court she didn’t speak up about his chief-of-staff Frank Zumbo indecently touching her because she feared retribution. The young woman said on multiple occasions Zumbo, 55, would “rub his hand down my thigh and against my vagina. It was very uncomfortable”.

Arguing he tried to create a collegial work environment, Zumbo has pleaded not guilty to 20 charges over conduct alleged by five women.


As women, we stay silent about a lot. Snoring. Empty hidden bottles. Wrong shoes. Remote control tyranny. And assault. Which by its nature is outside the realm of our normal experience and interplay with people, so when it happens what we do is assess how best to escape.

Stopping assault requires us to do something visible, to almost make a scene. That makes us feel we’re escalating something which is already awful. My generation was raised to be polite, to not rock the boat. To let things drop, say nothing. So we do.

Anna, you did nothing wrong. Rich guy, you did. Your first-date technique needs work, or maybe a police doorknock.

Kate Halfpenny is the founder of Bad Mother Media.


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