CONSENT- “Yes Or No”, Ask First
What Does Consent Mean Exactly?
Sometimes someone can get a “Yes” and then get served a “No.” Sex turns into sexual harassment or assault when consent is rescinded. Any party should feel free to revoke consent whenever they feel uncomfortable. That is not only OK, but legal, kind, and a right of every human being. Sadly gender often plays a role in how we interpret consent in accounts of sexual harassment and assault. For example imagine a man is on a date. He is flirting with this girl and she buys him a few drinks. Despite everything “going well” he declines the invitation to go back to her place. OK. That’s fine. He is entitled to do what he wants. Maybe he was tired or simply not into it. But what if the woman he was flirting with pressured or demanded him to come back to her place because he owed her for buying that last round? He would rightfully leave and tell everyone that she was drunk and crazy.
Now imagine that same situation, genders reversed. A guy lays on all the charm and she declines his invitation to go back to his place. The man is insistent but is not dubbed drunk, handsy or crazy. It is she who is being a prude, leading him on, or playing hard to get as to not look like “that kinda girl.” He spent money on her so she “owes” him. In our society this has been accepted as gospel for way too long. Despite the fact that he is the aggressor in this situation SHE is the one bearing the blame.
Let’s say for argument’s sake that she was into it. Maybe she kissed him, but at some point, some line is crossed and she decides to not go any further. She is allowed to change her mind and say no at any point in time. It’s not up to us to determine where her “line” is. It’s up to her and when she isn’t heard, that’s where MeToo stories start.
What Consent Looks Like-
The laws about consent vary by state and situation. It can make the topic confusing, but you don’t have to be a legal expert to understand how consent plays out in real life.
What is Consent?
Consent is an agreement between participants to engage in sexual activity. There are many ways to give consent. Consent doesn’t have to be verbal, but verbally agreeing to different sexual activities can help both you and your partner respect each other’s boundaries.
How does consent work in real life?
When you’re engaging in sexual activity, consent is about communication. And it should happen every time. Giving consent for one activity, one time, does not mean giving consent for increased or recurring sexual contact. For example, agreeing to kiss someone doesn’t give that person permission to remove your clothes. Having sex with someone in the past doesn’t give that person permission to have sex with you again in the future.
You can change your mind at any time.
You can withdraw consent at any point if you feel uncomfortable. It’s important to clearly communicate to your partner that you are no longer comfortable with this activity and wish to stop. The best way to ensure both parties are comfortable with any sexual activity is to talk about it.
Positive consent can look like this-
· Communicating when you change the type or degree of sexual activity with phrases like “Is this OK?”
· Explicitly agreeing to certain activities, either by saying “yes” or another affirmative statement, like “I’m open to trying.”
· Using physical cues to let the other person know you’re comfortable taking things to the next level
It does NOT look like this-
· Refusing to acknowledge “no”
· Assuming that wearing certain clothes, flirting, or kissing is an invitation for anything more
· Someone being under the legal age of consent, as defined by the state
· Someone being incapacitated because of drugs or alcohol
· Pressuring someone into sexual activity by using fear or intimidation
· Assuming you have permission to engage in a sexual act because you’ve done it in the past.
What is Consent?
Consent is when someone agrees, gives permission, or says “yes” to sexual activity with other persons. Consent is always freely given and all people in a sexual situation must feel that they are able to say “yes” or “no” or stop the sexual activity at any point.
Consent should not be assumed
Each of us is responsible for making sure we have consent in every sexual situation. If you are unsure, it is important to clarify what your partner feels about the sexual situation before initiating or continuing the sexual activity.
Consent should not simply be assumed by:
Body language, Appearance, or Non-Verbal Communication: One should never assume by the way a person dresses, smiles, looks or acts, that they to have sex with you.
Dating relationships or previous sexual activity: Simply because two or more people are dating or have had sex in the past does not mean that they are consenting to have sex with you.
Marriage: Even in marriage, a person should not assume they have consent for sexual activity. Marital rape is as serious as any other sexual assault.
Previous Activity: Consent to engage in one sexual activity at one time is not consent to engage in a different sexual activity or to engage in the same sexual activity on a later occasion.
Silence, Passivity, Lack of Resistance, or immobility: A person’s silence should not be considered consent.
A person who does not respond to attempts to engage in sexual activity, even if they do not verbally say no or resist physically, is not clearly agreeing to sexual activity.
Incapacitation: Alcohol consumption or use of other drugs can render a person incapable of giving consent. Alcohol is often used as a weapon to target individuals and is used by perpetrators to excuse their own actions. It is important to remember that sexual assault is never the survivor’s fault, regardless of whether they may have been intoxicated.
Thus, Consent means actively agreeing to be sexual with someone. Consent lets someone know that sex is wanted. Sexual activity without consent is rape or sexual assault.
Here are the basics of consent. Consent is:
Freely given. Consenting is a choice you make without pressure, manipulation, or under the influence of drugs or alcohol.
Reversible. Anyone can change their mind about what they feel like doing, anytime. Even if you’ve done it before, and even if you’re both naked in bed.
Informed. You can only consent to something if you have the full story.
Enthusiastic. When it comes to sex, you should only do stuff you WANT to do, not things that you feel you’re expected to do.
Specific. Saying yes to one thing (like going to the bedroom to make out) doesn’t mean you’ve said yes to others (like having sex).
You get the final say over what happens with your body. It doesn’t matter if you’ve hooked up before or even if you said yes earlier and then changed your mind. You’re allowed to say “stop” at any time, and your partner needs to respect that.
Consent is never implied by things like your past behavior, what you wear, or where you go. Sexual consent is always clearly communicated — there should be no question or mystery. Silence is not consent. And it’s not just important the first time you’re with someone..
There are laws about who can consent and who can’t. People who are drunk, high, or passed out can’t consent to sex. There are also laws to protect minors (people under the age of 18) from being pressured into sex with someone much older than them.
What’s sexual assault and what’s rape?
Rape, sexual assault, and sexual abuse can have different legal definitions. In general, rape, sexual assault, and sexual abuse are forms of violence in which there is sexual contact without consent — including vaginal or anal penetration, oral sex, and genital touching.
Anyone can be a victim — no matter their gender, sexual orientation, or age. But certain groups of people are more likely than others to experience sexual assault in their lives. Women (especially women of color), LGBT identified people, and people with developmental disabilities are more likely to experience sexual assault over the course of their lifetimes.
Sexual violence doesn’t happen in one single way. There doesn’t need to be a weapon involved and the victim doesn’t need to have fought back, screamed, or said “no” repeatedly in order for it to count as rape or sexual assault. Most sexual assaults don’t happen by strangers in dark alleyways. Often, it’s someone the victim knows or even a romantic partner. If you or someone you know has experienced this type of violence, you’re not alone, and help is available.
Consent – How to get it?
The person seeking or initiating sex is responsible for getting consent.
Ask yourself if the other person is capable of giving consent.
If they are on drugs or too drunk, asleep or unconscious they cannot choose.
Some people living with a mental health problem, a learning disability or a head injury may not have the capacity to consent.
You can confirm if you have consent by checking the other person’s body language and by asking them.
Check with them each time you start a new type of sexual activity.
Check with them on each occasion you start any sexual conduct.
Look at their body language and facial expression to see if they are eager and comfortable.
Ask them if they are okay.
If they seem unhappy, or you are not sure they are consenting, stop.
Silence, or the absence of a “no”, does not guarantee somebody is consenting.
A clear affirmative freely-given “yes” indicates consent.
Still Don’t Understand Sexual Consent? It’s Like a Cup of Tea, Says This brilliant video:
“Tea and Consent,” a wonderful PSA by the Thames Valley Police featuring stick figures, initially seems like a gross oversimplification that might poorly serve a serious and sensitive subject—or at the very least, open well-intentioned cops up to jokes about British people and their thing about tea. But the comparison is not only effective, it quite clearly condemns any attempts to claim murkiness around the subject. Because if you get when it is and isn’t OK to serve tea, you can’t really claim ignorance when your initially willing partner slips into unconsciousness.
Watch the link below for this amazing interpretation of ‘Consent is like a cup of Tea’. Watch to understand it better :
In the age of #MeToo, how do we talk to young men about sex and consent?
So how do we talk to boys and young men about sexual violence? What this might look like in practice are conversations with boys and young men that are deeper and more nuanced than “no means no.” Consent isn’t a single moment of yes or no, it’s an always shifting negotiation that requires the capacity to recognize other people’s boundaries, have empathy for their perspective and experience, and to understand your own needs and level of comfort. To teach this, we need to encourage boys early on to express their feelings and listen attentively to others. We should teach them to think critically about images of girls and women in media and pop culture, and to be aware of the power imbalance between men and women that is created by broader social attitudes and structures. And crucially, we must give boys and young men space to air their anxieties and questions about sex, without fear of being judged or ridiculed.When it comes to confronting these misperceptions, adults must also challenge their own biases about young people. For instance, sexual violence on campus is often attributed to laxer social mores, namely a hook-up culture facilitated by alcohol-loosened inhibitions. But there is a bigger issue here, too, about men, alcohol and mental health, in the way that young men use booze to “cope” by suppressing or numbing themselves. This reduces both their inhibitions and their capacity for empathy – drinking to excess increases the likelihood that they will assault someone. In late adolescence, young men are already prone to high-risk behaviour that puts themselves and others in danger. Given this, dismissing their drinking or normalizing it as “boys will be boys” is irresponsible. Which is why when we talk to young men about sexual violence, we need to take these toxic dynamics of masculinity into account. And in addition to encouraging young men to have healthy relationships with women, we also need to teach them to be better influences on one another because peer connections carry tremendous weight.
Interpreting Shades of Grey Create MeToo Stories
In the heat of the moment many view asking for consent as superfluous as if they’ve gotten a “yes” once before then they don’t have to ask to do this sex act again, right? WRONG. Just because I, she, him, her, they, said “yes” to something once doesn’t mean they owe anyone a “yes” perpetually. Consent is a major concern. You need to understand the YES and the NO said by the parties and respect each other. Either it’s a white or a black, trying to focus on greys is what makes life and your acts devastating.
Some things can never be blurry and so is the yes or no. Consent is everything so take care of it is all Consent asks for. Afterall NO MEANS NO. Right ?
Be safe and help others be safe ! J
About the Author
A Banker by profession, a Blogger and a content writer by passion, Sonali is a Gold medalist in Management as a post-graduate and an economics graduate. A painter and nature lover, she's passionate for art and photography. She finds peace and calmness in words inscribed on paper. She has written blogs, articles, newsletters, quotes, poetries ,stories, technical and financial content as a professional. Of all the things in the world, she likes to fall for a pen and paper each time because Writing is her favorite escape. She's a self motivated and a self driven person and loves to inspire and motivate people. She believes in 'doing what you love and loving what you do'.