It is critical that all people obtain consent prior to engaging in any sexual activity. Consent can and should be incorporated as an essential and fun part of sexual communication. Likewise, it is a vital component of mutual pleasure and healthy sexuality.
Consent is knowing, voluntary, and clear permission by words or actions to engage in sexual activity. It is the responsibility of each party to determine that the other has consented before engaging in the activity.
- Cannot be gained by force, threats, intimidation, or coercion
- Cannot be inferred from silence or lack of resistance
- Cannot be implied by attire or inferred from money spent
- Can never be given by a minor
- Can never be given by someone with a mental disability
- Can never be given if the person is asleep, incapacitated or unconscious, which could be a result of alcohol or drugs
- One type of sexual act does not imply consent for another act
- Once a person says no or communicates that they want to stop, it does not matter if or what type of sexual behavior had occurred previously
- Being in a relationship does not mean that consent is always given. It is important to ask each time when engaging in sexual activities
- Consent can be withdrawn at any time as long as that withdrawal is clearly communicated
The best way to know that you have consent is to ask. Yes means Yes.
Why is Consent Important?
- Communication, respect, and honesty make sex and relationships better.
- Asking for and obtaining consent shows that you have respect for both yourself and your partner.
- Positive views on sex and sexuality are empowering.
- It eliminates the entitlement that one partner feels over the other. Neither your body nor your sexuality belongs to someone else.
- It is normal and healthy for women to expect to be included in the consent process.
Asking for Consent
Show your partner that you respect them enough to ask about their sexual needs and desires. If you are not accustomed to communicating with your partner about sex and sexual activity, the first few times may feel awkward. But, practice makes perfect. Be creative and spontaneous. Don't give up. The more times you have these conversations with your partner, the more comfortable you will become communicating about sex and sexual activity. Your partner may also find the situation awkward at first, but over time you will both be more secure in yourselves and your relationship.
Before you act. It is the responsibility of the person initiating a sex act to obtain clear consent. Whenever you are unsure if consent has been given, ask. Check-in through out. Giving consent ahead of time does not waive a person's right to change their mind or say no later.
Consent is not just about getting a yes or no answer, but about understanding what a partner is feeling. Ask open-ended questions. Listen to and respect your partner's response, whether you hear yes or no: "I'd really like to . . . how does that sound?" "How does this feel?" "What would you like to do?"
Red: Signs You Should Stop
- You are too intoxicated to gauge or give consent.
- Your partner is asleep or passed out.
- You hope your partner will say nothing and go with the flow.
- You intend to have sex by any means necessary.
Yellow: Signs You Should Pause and Talk
- You are not sure what the other person wants.
- You feel like you are getting mixed signals.
- You have not talked about what you want to do.
- You assume that you will do the same thing as before.
- Your partner stops or is not responsive.
Green: Keep Communicating
- Partners come to a mutual decision about how far to go.
- Partners clearly express their comfort with the situation.
- You feel comfortable and safe stopping at any time.
- Partners are excited!
Before you have sex, ask yourself...
- Have I expressed what I want?
- Do I know what my partner wants?
- Am I certain that consent has been given?
- Is my potential partner sober enough to decide whether or not to have sex?
- Am I sober enough to know that I've correctly gauged consent?