Consent, Explained, for People Who Still Don’t Get It

Amber Rose, Tyrese and Rev. Run on It’s Not You, It’s Men on OWN
YouTube screenshot
Amber Rose, Tyrese and Rev. Run on It’s Not You, It’s Men on OWN
YouTube screenshot

Who is Rev. Run? And who is Tyrese?

Rev. Run is a hip-hop legend who’s made a second career out of disseminating homespun, succinct and alliterative aphorisms that manage to sound 17 times wittier and wiser than they actually are. He’s basically the working-class man’s Steve Harvey. And Tyrese? Well, Tyrese is a man with an amazing smile and an amazingly adversarial relationship with grammar. And spelling. And sense. He hates grammar the way Ben Carson hates coffee.

Together, they have a show called It’s Not You, It’s Men, which airs on OWN and provides them a platform to share dating and relationship advice. Because it’s apparently not 2016 anymore and we’re back in 2007.

Why are we talking about them today?

Last week, world-famous Earth Muva Amber Rose appeared on the show, and a conversation about why it’s not cool to grab and grope women on the dance floor, even if that woman is dressed in a manner that a person might consider suggestive, segued into the concept of consent.


Rose: “If I’m laying down with a man—butt-naked—and his condom is on, and I say, ‘You know what? No. I don’t want to do this. I changed my mind,’ that means no. That means f—king no. That’s it.”

Naturally, both Tyrese and Rev. Run balked at this. Tyrese made literally the worst analogy anyone has ever made, saying that if you saw a guy with a basketball uniform on, you’d … force him to play basketball. Or something. (Which means the next time Tyrese is wearing Timberlands, someone should force him to help install some drywall.) Rev. Run chimed in, too, with, “Dress how you want to be addressed”­—which was either stolen from someone’s cousin’s Facebook meme or will be stolen by someone’s cousin for a Facebook meme.

So, I have to say that I agree with Tyrese and Rev. Run here. I mean, how are they in the wrong and Amber Rose in the right? How realistic is it to expect men not to grope or grab if a woman’s sex parts are exposed? Or for a man to just be cool if a woman is naked in bed with him and decides she doesn’t want to have sex?

First, I’m going to need you to remove “sex parts” from your vocabulary. Like, forever. Take it out back, shoot it in the face, burn it and feed its remains to a pigeon.

Are you done feeding the pigeons yet?


OK. Well, let me paint a scenario for you:

Let’s say you asked to borrow my car for tomorrow. And I was like, “Sure! You can borrow the hell out of my car tomorrow!” And then tomorrow came. And you came by to borrow the car. But I changed my mind and said, “Not today.” And then you went and took the keys and the car anyway. That would be car theft—a crime—right?


Of course!

Would it still be a crime if you really were looking forward to borrowing the car?



How about if I gave you the reason for not allowing you to borrow the car today and you didn’t agree with it.


Yes. It would still be a crime.

How about if you were begging for weeks, and I finally said, “Yes,” only to change my mind?


Yes. I’d still go to jail.

What if you were actually in the driver’s seat, ready to take off, and I ran outside and said, “Hey, man. I’m sorry, but something came up and you can’t take the car today.” Would that still be a crime?



What if you were in the driver’s seat, ready to take off, and I ran outside and said, “I changed my mind,” and nothing else?


No explanation?


Well, it would be annoying. I’d definitely be a little irritated. But I’d just have to deal with it. It’s your car. Plus, maybe you’ll let me borrow it tomorrow. But if I took it today, without your permission, I’d be in jail.


OK. Well, what if yesterday I said you could borrow the car, and you came over today to borrow it, based on what I said yesterday. But you couldn’t get in touch with me. You tried calling several times. And even left a voicemail. Could you just say, “Well, you said it was OK yesterday,” and take the car?


What if you came over, and I was there, but I was asleep on the couch. Could you take the keys out my pocket and take the car?


Nah. You could still have me arrested for theft. Plus, even without it being a crime, that just wouldn’t be very cool. If you’re truly a friend and someone I care about, why would I do something sneaky like that? That’s some Creep Squad s—t.

Anyway, why do you keep asking me these obvious and increasingly stupid questions? I thought we were going to talk about sexual consent.


Well, we kinda have been. And you’re right! These questions were pretty obvious and did seem rather stupid. It is very obviously a crime to take your friend’s car without explicit permission, even if he said it was cool yesterday. Or an hour ago. Or a minute ago, and then, 10 seconds later, changed his mind for whatever reason.

Sexual consent works pretty much the same way. If you’re a man or a woman and you intend on having sex with a man or a woman, both parties need to consent. And that consent must occur while the party is conscious. And currently. If, at any time, one person decides to change his or her mind—or is in a state of unconsciousness (sleep, inebriation, etc.), during which a choice can’t be made—continuing with sex is a crime.


Sure, stopping then would be annoying. And frustrating. Especially if you just bought some silk bedsheets from T.J. Maxx in anticipation of this occasion. (And the bedsheets have a no-return policy. Because T.J. Maxx knows that people are nasty. T.J. Maxx be knowing, man.) But it’s the right thing to do. And not just the right thing to do the way “recycling” and “occasionally volunteering to sleep in the wet spot” are the right things to do. But the right thing to do because the other thing—the wrong thing—is an actual crime. A much, much, much worse crime than car theft.

OK. I get it now.

Great! Let’s move to more pressing matters. Namely, why does Tyrese hate grammar so much? Does grammar owe Tyrese money? Did Tyrese and grammar share an apartment for a year until grammar abruptly moved out without paying his half of the rent? Did grammar sleep with Tyrese’s crush? Or ruin Tyrese’s credit? You find the answer and I might actually let you borrow my car.




Damon Young is the editor-in-chief of He is also a contributing editor at He lives in Pittsburgh and he really likes pancakes. You can reach him at

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