We sent one of our writers to a consent workshop with some of Ireland's top TikTokers. Here's what she took away from it
Before coronavirus took over the world and our lives, I found myself sitting in a circle with some of Ireland’s most famous TikTok stars.
They were discussing consent. A subject far removed from the world of dancing and lip-syncing I had known them for. Being a Tik Tok aficionado, I was acutely aware of each young adult who sat alongside me. I may have fangirled.
The discussion quickly found itself on my lap and I instantly felt intimidated. Deeply afraid to voice my opinion. They were so much younger and cooler than I. Full of energy and a zest for life that I had lost circa 2016. However, I need not fear. The room was welcoming, open and, most of all, informed.
The group of 20 had gathered with the Dublin Rape Crisis Centre (DRCC) for a day of workshops and brainstorming for a new campaign called #100consent. With over 90,000 daily Irish users – many of them teenagers – the DRCC hopes the campaign will raise awareness of the issue of consent.
I was invited along to join in with the workshops and listen to the next generation and how they think consent should be tackled. Consent is tricky. We know this to be true because it always has been. On the surface, it is black and white – no means no. However, circumstances and court cases can blur the lines. Fear is the driver of confusion and we all know a story where the lines of what is deemed ok become jagged.
The group – which included Nia Gallagher aka @nia_gall (149.3k followers) and Jacob Donegan aka @itz_jacob_33 (943k followers) – knew this. They accepted the complexities but understood why there is still such a tumultuous narrative.
I got a grasp of why the message may still not be lodging in the minds of the youth. The problems are ones each generation has faced and they hint at deeper issues in the system. The group spoke openly of the often disastrous sex education which is taught in Irish schools.
Sometimes, there isn't even any.
Teachers shy away from it, as do parents, and the collective call was one for better education in schools that deals with sexual health, consent, relationships and everything in between.
Social media, pornographic content, alcohol and the various pressures of today are also pieces of the puzzle.
Noeline Blackwell, Chief Executive of the Dublin Rape Crisis Centre, believes parents must come up to date with the information their children are ingesting on their smartphones.
"Parents are behind the curve. Older people haven't realised quite how insidious all this harmful information on the internet is. Parents are becoming more worried and they too lack the language to communicate with their children. We are also putting effort into creating useful resources for parents when it comes to talking about pornography and the topic of consent."
To date, the #100consent campaign has nearly 1 million views on Tik Tok. The videos made have serious undertones with a lightness attached – the perfect mix for a teenage audience.
@laurenwhelxnThis was the only way I was gonna get views on this vid, 100 percent or it’s not consent ##100consent @100consent ##fyp? yike or die remix - sydneybourne_
The youth are often judged but what struck me most about this particular group was their level of awareness. This consciousness is one I most certainly did not possess. With over 2 million followers between them, each had a keen sense of their influence and its power. I was shocked to hear that children as young as five had watched their videos and it's something that worries them.
However, they understood the gravity of this and they were grateful that they had the opportunity to teach others what they had never learned.
Each attendee was enthusiastic and passionate and wanted to do their best for the campaign. I came away hopeful and calm because the future is in safe hands.
The kids are most certainly alright.
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