Consent is about saying “yes” and about respecting and accepting a person’s right to say “no”. Consent is required at any stage of being intimate with someone – asking for a dance, a date, to make out – and at any point in a relationship, whether you’ve just met or you’ve been going steady since the dawn of time.
But let’s talk about consent and sex! You may think you know it well, but read on ahead and reaffirm that you’re on the right track. It is important to be able to communicate what we want, when we want it, and how we want it, with whomever we’re wanting it with. Don’t pressure anyone into having sex and don’t do anything that makes the other person feel uncomfortable. Sex should be about mutual pleasure so communication is key. Check in with the person you’re having sex with and make sure they are enjoying themselves and want to continue.
Equally, if someone is pressuring you or making you feel uncomfortable, it’s your right to say “no”. Consent is something you give, so it’s also something you can take back.
When asked about consent back in the day we might have said something like “no means no”, and while that’s still the case, consent goes far beyond this now. Affirmative consent is when the verbal and physical cues a person is giving you show that they are comfortable, consenting and keen to continue. It’s all about the proactive asking and giving of consent between people. A “no” is still a ‘no’, but the absence of an enthusiastic and ongoing“yes” is a ‘no’ as well.
F= Freely given – all parties can freely say no.
R= Reversible – any party can change their mind at any point.
I= Informed – if one party says they will use a condom and then doesn't, no consent!
E= Enthusiastic – if your partner(s) don't look like they are having fun, you need to stop and check.
S= Specific – yes to kissing doesn't mean yes to anything else.
(planned parenthood, 2016)
Every person has the right to choose to have sex the way they want, and to make that choice freely every time without feeling pressured due to their circumstances or out of fear of repercussions. Saying “yes” to a kiss or allowing your partner to touch you, caress you, take your top off etc. does not imply a yes to everything.
The most basic thing to remember is that consent is voluntary, enthusiastic and continuous.
A person cannot give consent if:
Sometimes people think that consent is confusing - getting mixed signals - or that asking for consent can ‘kill the mood’, but remember to look for and use both verbal and non-verbal cues. Here are some examples
Things you can ask to find out:
Non-verbal cues that tell you to stop:
Watch this consent video.
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