Consent to Tea

It took me a long time to like tea. Even to this day, I prefer tea that tastes something other than just tea. I simply hate "Earl Gray" and "English Breakfast Tea". Although I today actually have found a number of teas that I like, such as the Chilli Chai Tea Pig (first encountered on a trip to Anglesey in Wales a few years ago) and tea from Kenya (although it requires new equipment since it's grounded), I'm a bit concerned that I actually started drinking tea as a way to fit in. It was a bit too much to not drink coffee, or tea, or alcohol. In the beginning, I simply did not fancy tea.

From Copenhagen Feb 2012

Tea can also be used as a metaphor. You've probably heard the expression "it's not my cup of tea" but there are others. In a blog post at MetaFuture.org, Marcus Bussey writes about the connotations associated with a tea bag:

"Tea is murky water. As a metaphor it is also ambiguous. On the one hand it is a symbol of colonial power. Many millions over the centuries have laboured, warred and died because of tea. The humble cup of tea is not so innocent.

Yet tea is also a symbol of refinement and stability. It represents both tradition and continuity, propelling us into a future that is safe and reliably familiar. The tea bag makes this future more accessible and manageable."

I must admit that I use tea bags. Sometimes. But most often I use some kind of infuser. I'm not sure about what that says about me. Perhaps that I'm both traditional and progressive? I'd like that.

A rather recent addition to the set of tea metaphors is the "consent explanation" that has become viral and now even been picked up by Caitlin Moran. It all started as a blogpost by Rock Star Dinosaur Pirate Princess on March 2, where the author Emmeline May expressed concerned about the consent debate in the UK and decided to explain what's it all about using tea as a metaphor. It was then quickly picked up by many people, making the number of views rise from 13 to 30.000 a day in less than a week.
It probably helped that animator Rachel Brian and cinematographer Graham Wheeler from the animation company Blue Seat (with the appropriate tagline "educate with humor") brought it all to life with a simple, yet efficient movie. Maybe a little bit like putting the tea into a tea bag.

Lots of people commented on the blog post, which in turn made Emmeline May reflect in an additional post:

"To have people say they enjoyed your words, to see them shared over and over and to see people going YES, THIS was bewildering and wonderful and strange. But those messages telling me that I didn’t just write something funny or clever but that my words actually had real impact for people; to know that my brain ramblings have affected people, touched people and even helped them is an extraordinary feeling, and one I will treasure, even if no one ever reads this blog again"

Her work has definitely proven that metaphors are very powerful indeed, in many ways. From now on the phrase "Would you like a cup of tea?" may be considered ambiguous. Similar to the phrase "I'm gonna make myself a cup of tea", which is what I'm going to do right now.

No comments: