Consent for any sexual activity is the centerpiece for preventing sexual coercion and unwanted sexual behavior. Consent can and should be incorporated as an essential part of sexual communication.
Importance of Consent
- Consent is a voluntary, sober, enthusiastic, wanted, informed, mutual, honest, and verbal agreement.
- Consent is an active agreement; Consent cannot be coerced.
- Consent is a process; it must be granted every step of the way.
- Consent is never implied and cannot be assumed, even in the context of a relationship. Just because you are in a relationship does not mean that you have permission to have sex with your partner.
- A person who is intoxicated cannot legally give consent. If you are too drunk to make decisions and communicate clearly with your partner, you are too drunk to consent.
- The absence of a "NO" is NOT a "YES"
- Both partners must be involved in the decision to have sex.
Why is Consent Important?
- Communication, respect, and honesty make sex and relationships better.
- Asking for and obtaining consent shows that you have respect for yourself and your partner.
- Asking for consent eliminates the entitlement that one partner feels over the other. Neither your body nor your sexuality belongs to someone else.
How to Ask for Consent
- Show your partner that you respect them enough to ask about their sexual needs and desires. This may feel awkward at first, but practice will make it more natural.
- When should you ask for consent? You need to ask for consent before you take any action. It is the responsibility of the person initiating the sex act to obtain clear consent. If you are not sure that consent has been given, you should not act. Giving consent earlier does not waive the person's right to change his or her mind.
- How should you ask for consent? Consent is not just about getting a yes or no answer, but about understanding what your partner is feeling. Ask open-ended questions. Listen to and respect your partner's response, whether you hear a yes or no. Try statements like: "I'd really like to...how does that sound?", "How does this feel to you?", and "What would you like to do?"