Justice

Planned Parenthood Uses Fries to Promote Consent

August 11th 2016

By:
Lucy Tiven

Planned Parenthood has unveiled an advertising campaign on Facebook and Tumblr that shows how much progress needs to be made with respect to sex education in the United States.

FRIES consent

Consent, says the ad, "is as easy as FRIES."

As the acrostic explains, consent is "freely given, reversible, enthusiastic, informed, specific," and as lovable as a French fry.

Though the phrase "affirmative consent" — i.e. 'yes means yes' rather than just 'no means no' — is never used in the ad, this is essentially what "FRIES" is conveying.

It is unfortunate that Planned Parenthood has to use French fries to educate people about consent, but that's apparently the world we live in.

One in 5 women and one in 16 men are sexually assaulted during their time at college, the National Sexual Violence Resource Center reports (PDF).

It's hard to look at these numbers and not consider the way they might reflect the sex education American students receive before they graduate high school.

Consent is not taught in may sex-ed classes in the United States, and less than half of U.S. states don't require sex-ed at all, the Guttmacher Institute reports.

Though President Barack Obama included cuts to abstinence only sex education programs in his Fiscal Year 2017 budget proposal in February, as it stands, 27 states still require abstinence centered sex education.

president-barack-obama

That approach can have unintended results. As Mic reported in 2014, states with sexual education programs that stress abstinence also have the highest teen pregnancy rates in the country.

Other countries teach sex education very differently.

In the Netherlands, students begin a comprehensive sex ed curriculum in kindergarten, when kids are first introduced to ideas about love and relationships. Later on, they are taught about topics like gender identity, contraception, and consent.

sex-ed-netherlands

Though it's difficult to compare sexual assault statistics from the U.S. and abroad, the program has been linked to the Netherlands' strikingly low teen pregnancy rate.

As ATTN: has previously reported, images from a Danish children's book about sex education were shared in a Reddit For Grownups thread and circulated widely online earlier this year.

cartoon-man-with-penis-inside-woman

The images illustrate the country's straightforward approach to sex-education. The woman who shared them, Redditor AuroraSinistra, also explained how her parents introduced her to the concept of consent at a very young age.

"There were many many conversations with my parents, each with the central theme that I should never let myself be pressured into anything and that it was 100% okay to do sexual things if they were my choice and I wanted them to happen," She wrote. "They also always reminded me not to make choices in the heat of the moment and to consider internally if I wanted it for myself or to make the boy happy."

Teaching consent shouldn't be all that complicated.

It is rather sufficiently explained by a video of funny, bouncy genitalia released by Project Consent in March. "If it's not yes, it's no," the video instructs.

This simple message contains more information about consent than many sex-ed classes in the United States.

If this wasn't the case, perhaps Planned Parenthood wouldn't have to use French fry wordplay to get people to pay attention.

ATTN: reached out to Planned Parenthood for comment and will update this post when we receive their response.