6. Power Can Influence Play

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It’s time we talked about consent and power.  

It’s important for us all to reflect on the power we hold within different contexts and relationships in our lives.  

Power dynamics exist within every interaction and every relationship we have, whether we notice these dynamics or not. Think about some of the different relationships you have in your life: these might be with friends, teachers, mentors, a partner or people you work with. How do the power dynamics differ between these relationships? Are there some relationships that feel more equal to you than others? 

Power dynamics and imbalances are not necessarily a ‘bad’ thing, provided we have the skills to recognise their impacts and navigate them safely. It is important to note that where there is a substantial power imbalance between people, it may not be possible for the person with less power to freely consent to any kind of sexual or romantic relationship with the person with more power. This can be true even where the person with less power really wants to consent. This is because power imbalances can make it really difficult for a person with less power to feel comfortable and able to say ‘no’, or lead to someone feeling like they need to please or appease the person with more power.  

Some examples of relationships where a there is a significant power imbalance include:  

  • a student and their teacher 
  • an employee and their boss  
  • a health professional and their patient 
Need Emergency Support?

If you are experiencing an emergency or need urgent support in relation to an experience of sexual assault or harassment, then you can call:

  • +61 7 3365 3333 UQ Security for on campus emergencies
  • 000 for immediate police or ambulance assistance 
  • 1800 Respect 1800 737 732 for 24/7 counselling support
  • Sexual Assault Response Team (SART) 07 3646 5207 for 24/7 Acute Response
  • External community support options in Queensland