As part of the Australian Government’s Respect Matters program, an education platform around appropriate sexual behaviour has been launched, featuring a series of videos about consent that are confusing at best, and insulting at their very worst.
Like a strange, amateurish high school project, the Morrison government has funded The Good Society, a resource platform for teachers, parents and students, to create a series of learning programs to teach children about consent. Videos are targeted to kids in their first years at school all the way up to year 12.
The site features resources for teachers, programs that aid in the teaching of consent and poll questions to be used as activities in class. It’s the standard package that you’d expect to see on a platform for education, albeit a very simple one.
However, the videos featured on the Good Society website range from skits about milkshakes and tacos, to a vid about swimming with sharks. They’re high-energy, they’re bizarre, and they entirely miss the mark.
These videos are the only real controversial aspect of the site, as they fail to tackle the seriousness of topics such as consent, rape, sexual assault and being pressured into sex.
The thing about that consent video for highschoolers is that there was never any need for it to be wacky. As a teenager I would have killed for a plain-speaking adult to talk about this stuff with us in an honest, open and informative way. That's literally all it needed to be.
— Alex Lee (@alex_c_lee) April 19, 2021
The videos feature young adult actors with playful, childish voices, as they talk very simply around metaphoric situations like “aggressive sharks” and not wanting to finish your “popcorn.” It feels like an old person speaking very slowly to a much younger generation, and at times, it just feels condescending.
For example, to explore the topic of being “able to differentiate between respectful and disrespectful relationships”, the video uses tacos to express the idea that objects cannot give consent, and thus, are different to humans.
The point here, I guess, is that you can eat a… taco (??) without asking it (???), but human beings deserve to be spoken to before you do anything to them, and consent must be retrieved.
No child in high school needs to learn about objectification, emotional needs and respect through the symbol of the taco. They need real people tackling real issues head-on.
There’s no embeddable version at the moment, but you can watch the taco vid here.
And yes, this video here is aimed at the older range of kids, just about to leave high school and head into uni. It’s the same age range as the people who made over 4,000 testimonies to Chanel Contos, each claiming sexual assault against other young people in high school.
This is an age group that is either already in the know about sex, or is actively participating in it. Nothing can be done about this fact, but education can help create a healthier environment around sex, and improve upon a lack of understanding.
These young people deserve a more detailed and serious look at ideas of sexual intimidation, rape and lack of consent. They deserve to be spoken to with clear, informative language, that helps them understand what is necessary for a healthy, respectful sexual life. A taco just doesn’t cut it.
“Young people are more sophisticated than this content gives them credit for,” End Rape on Campus Australia’s Karen Willis told News.com.au.
“Sex and consent is far more complicated than videos about milkshakes and sharks at the beach.
“These resources fall well short of the national standards, and what experts know is needed to actually change behaviours and prevent abuse.”
This is the government's new video to educate teenagers on consent… and honestly, I think I actually know less about the issue after watching this. What's going on?
Originally reported by @samanthamaiden
— Matilda Boseley (@MatildaBoseley) April 19, 2021
Other videos, as mentioned by Willis, include the forced drinking of milkshakes as a metaphor for forced sex, and a woman being pressured to swim in shark-infested waters as a metaphor for being pressured into uncomfortable sexual situations.
It’s… not a good look, and the videos are incredibly campy for their serious subject matter.
The Morrison government needs to do a lot better than creating videos about people forcing food into their mouths and calling it a day. This is a nuanced topic with an incredible amount of care needed to tackle the subjects head-on, and this just doesn’t cut it.
Help is available.
If you require immediate assistance, please call 000.
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