Consent: How do you take your tea?

Tea and Consent

By now, I’m sure most of you have heard the tea analogy for consent.  If not, you can see it done below.

It was put out there as a simple method of understanding consent, but is it enough? I don’t believe it is. It covers the basics … ask and get an affirmative response. Proceed as long as you have continued agreement.

What it lacks is the notion of informed consent.

Offering a cup of tea is not enough

tea photoIs it enough to ask someone if they would like tea? No.

  • What type of tea?
  • Darjeeling, black, orange pekoe, or maybe some herbal blend?
  • Maybe you want some matcha tea, complete with the proper preparation ceremony.
  • Temperature? Hot, iced?
  • What do you want in your tea? Sweetened? Lemon? Milk?

These are all considerations in making a cup of tea.

It takes two to make a thing go right

If someone asks you if you would like a cup of tea, and they forget to ask how you take it, it isn’t entirely their fault … really, it isn’t. It takes two to negotiate. Both are responsible for getting or giving the information necessary to ensure that the cup of tea is their cuppa tea.
If someone offers a cup of tea and it isn’t to your liking, you have options.

  • You can accept the tea as provided. However, if you choose to accept (and drink) the cup of tea as was offered, you have now consented to that cup of tea.
  • Maybe you can make slight alterations to make the tea suitable to your tastes (cool it down, add some sugar, etc.)
  • You can refuse the tea
  • You can state your preferences and they can decide if they wish to make another cup of tea for you.

So, the next time someone offers you a cup of tea, and you aren’t sure what they have in mind, tell them how you like your tea. Because, really, I’m sure they would like to know that you enjoyed the cup of tea they made for you.

As Rob Base would say:

It takes two to make a thing go right.
It takes two to make it out of sight.


Some Scenarios to consider:

They all start with:
Me: Would you like some tea?
You: Absolutely!

Based on Tea Consent, we established consent.

Scenario #1

I make tea. It is really hot. I give it to you and you drink it without saying anything. Would I be correct in believing that you liked the tea? Or that you consented to the really hot tea? You gave consent and never revoked it. I received no communication to tell me otherwise.

Scenario #2

I make the tea. It is really hot. You take a sip and put it down. I ask if everything is okay with the tea and you ask for an ice cube to cool it. The tea was too hot for your liking and you asked for a change in temperature. We have re-negotiated the cup of tea to bring it in line with your tastes. We established consent, but the terms weren’t acceptable, so we changed things and consent is re-established.

Scenario #3

I make the tea. You decide that the tea is too hot and you don’t really want to have a drink anymore. You consented but withdrew your agreement. I cannot force you to take my tea, or I would be violating your consent.

Scenario #4

I make the tea. You sip it and tell me that you prefer your tea a certain way. I can either make you another cup (re-negotiated consent), or I can pass on having tea with you.


Now, consider this:

Scenario #5

Me: Would you like some tea?
You: Absolutely!
Me: How do you take your tea? (asking whatever questions I need to establish your tastes)

I have taken a pro-active position in determining what a cup of tea looks like to you.

Scenario #6

Me: Would you like some tea?
You: Absolutely! What kind of tea do you have? I like mine with a touch of milk and one sugar.

You have taken a pro-active position in telling me what your preferences are so you will enjoy my tea.

Scenario #7 – The spontaneity issue

Me: Would you like some tea?
You: Absolutely!
Me: What kind would you like?
You: Surprise me.
Me: Okay. I don’t really know what you are craving, so let me know if anything isn’t to your liking.

Consent was given and an out was offered to assure you know you can say “no” at any time, or we can re-negotiate if things aren’t going well.


From the archive. Originally posted on FetLife, 10 Apr 2015

Camille Beaujolie
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Camille Beaujolie

On-Air Personality at Stereo-Typed on TPOK Radio
Host of Stereo-Typed on TPOK Radio, an educational, research-based internet radio show/podcast that seeks to challenge beliefs about and within the Alternative Sexuality cultures. Contributor to the TPOK Monthly newsletter.
Camille Beaujolie
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