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Women's Health Education Program (WHEP) Blog Tea and Sex - More Similar Than You Think

Hot Fruit Tea with Oranges and Cinnamon

September 22, 2021
By Marcus Junus, MS4, Drexel University College of Medicine

There is a brilliant video created by a police department in the U.K. that explains the concept of sexual consent in terms of making someone a cup of tea. If you offer to make someone a cup of tea and they don’t want a cup of tea, you should just not make them a cup of tea. (1) You should not get annoyed that they don’t want tea, and you most definitely should not force them to drink the tea. If they initially wanted a cup of tea, but changed their mind after you have made it, no matter how good you think your tea is, you still should not pour the tea down their throat. Yes, you probably would feel annoyed that you have spent time boiling the water and making the tea, but would any of us really argue that it would give you the right to force someone to drink your tea? That’s consent in a nutshell. Most people can grasp the idea that forcing someone to drink tea is ridiculous, but many people still struggle to understand what constitutes consent in a sexual setting. According to the National Sexual Violence Resource Center (NSVRC), almost one in four women at 33 major universities in the U.S. have experienced some form of sexual assault or misconduct. Staggeringly, one in five women in the U.S. experienced completed or attempted rape during their lifetime. (2)

So let’s talk more about what consent is and how it works. Although the legal definition of the word “consent” may vary depending on circumstances and laws in different geographical locations, we can still discuss the concept in general. Consent should be clear, ongoing, coherent, and voluntary. A clear consent should be given enthusiastically. That means not saying “no” does not equal a “yes.” If you asked someone if they wanted tea and they uncomfortably mumbled something, I think it’s a pretty clear indication that they don’t want your tea. Consent should be ongoing, meaning a partner can revoke their consent at any time. Even if your partner is in the middle of drinking your tea, they can decide that they no longer want it. They are not obligated to finish it. Consent must be coherent. Someone who is intoxicated by alcohol or drugs may not be capable of giving consent. Nearly half of sexual assaults involve alcohol consumption. (3) Lastly, consent must be voluntary. A “yes” obtained through coercion is not consent.

It’s also important to note that even people in committed, long-term relationships should continue to foster a culture of consent. For example, being married does not make it an obligation to perform any sort of sexual activity.

One of the barriers to obtaining proper consent is the fear of “killing the mood.” Sure, asking for consent can sometimes feel awkward. But it doesn’t always have to be that way. There are ways to ask for consent without ruining the moment. Just as we have learned how to initiate and normalize sex education in schools, we can make consent a natural part of sexual interactions. When we normalize asking and receiving sexual consent, it makes everyone safer and more comfortable. *If you’ve been sexually assaulted, call the National Sexual Assault Hotline 800.656.HOPE (4673). (4)


1) Thames Valley Police, May E. (2015). Consent Is Everything. Blue Seat Studios.
2) Smith, S. G., Zhang, X., Basile, K. C., Merrick, M. T., Wang, J., Kresnow, M., & Chen, J. (2018). The National Intimate Partner and Sexual Violence Survey: 2015 data brief – updated release. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
3) Abbey A. (2002). Alcohol-related sexual assault: a common problem among college students. Journal of studies on alcohol. Supplement, (14), 118–128.
4) Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network. (2021). About the national sexual assault telephone hotline. RAINN.

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