Consenting adults

We assume - but rarely name - the elephant in the room when we talk about consent: human dignity.

Grace Tame. Brittany Higgins. Chanel Contos.

These young women have put consent and sexual assault front and centre of the national agenda, raising troubling concerns about the way men treat women.

In this episode, we step back from the immediate headlines generated by the crisis. Instead, we explore what is core to all discussions of consent, but rarely named: the concern that all people – but especially women – are treated with dignity. 

Tim Bowden, principal of Trinity Grammar School in Sydney, and Lynda Dunstan, Domestic and Family Violence Advisor at Anglicare, explore the environmental influences shaping the way men and women relate to each other. 

Lynda particularly focuses on patterns of gender inequality that drive injustices against women, while Tim reflects on the challenge facing him as principal of an all-boys school: turning boys into men.

Moral philosopher Emma Wood identifies competing visions of sex in contemporary culture that have very different implications for how we treat each other. She joins theologian John Stackhouse in calling for a substantial story promoting human dignity to ground ideas about consent. 

As John Stackhouse says, “What we do with our bodies is sometimes trivial and fairly unimportant. But when we get into the zone of relating to other people and touching other people, it’s always important. Touch is never trivial. And sex is really never trivial.”


Emma Wood’s article on ABC Religion & Ethics

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