When it comes to sex and other activities no one should be obliged to do something they don’t want to. That's why it's important you give or receive affirmative consent.
Affirmative consent means a person must do or say something to affirm they have consent before sex occurs.
Let's engage in healthy sex by reaching affirmative consent before and during sex as well as any other activities we participate in.
Here’s a few key things that you should understand about consent.
1. Consent must be mutual and freely given. Sexual activity between parties is not a one-way street. All participants must be consciously and freely agreeing to the activity without any pressure or threats.
2. Consent must be clear and informed. No means no! Consent must be clearly and unambiguously given. A clear and affirmative yes indicates consent. Never assume anything and silence is not the same thing as consent.
Where someone has clearly said they are not comfortable with partaking in something, you must respect their wishes. Continually asking someone for consent even after they’ve said no is not consent, its harassment and coercion. You’re also just being an absolute cock head.
3. Consent is ongoing and specific You need to make sure that you have consent for every activity. Just because someone’s down for one thing, doesn’t mean they’re down for everything.
Don’t forget too – people can and do change their minds! Consent can be removed at any time and must be continually provided for any specific activity. Where someone declines to go further or seems hesitate, take a moment to stop and check if they’re comfortable or if they’d like to take a break.
4. Cues (Verbal and non-verbal) Consent can be expressed through verbal (saying yes) and nonverbal cue (positive body language like nodding, smiling and maintaining eye contact). It’s important to remember that nonverbal cues are different for everyone and relying on them alone may be problematic. If you’re unsure, you must ask.
5. Ways consent can’t be given In some circumstances and under the law, consent cannot be given. This includes people who are:
- Under the legal age of consent
- Intoxicated by drugs or alcohol
- Asleep or unconscious
- In a vulnerable position or where unequal power dynamics exist (e.g. employee-employer, student-teacher)
- Under threat or intimidation
Failing to confirm that someone has consented to sexual activity can have severe consequences including criminal penalties. Always make sure to double check and practice safe sex!