Consent is an important topic and one that is getting quite a lot of traction on social media. The problem, however, still stands that people don’t talk about enough consent which leads to many being unaware of what is it – and what it isn’t.
Consent is usually spoken about in a sexual or physical context, and it’s usually in combination with the phrase “no means no”. Although true, the problem with the phrase is the fact that it puts responsibility on one person to resist or accept an activity. I might not be in a state of mind to resist, and someone might take that as consent… do you see the problem here?
This begs the question, what is consent?
Consent comes down to open and honest conversation. In relationships or with hookups one might feel awkward to talk about consent, or get consent, because of being in fear of ruining the mood. However, it is essential for both partners to have this conversation outside of being physically intimate as it can help avoid confusion and create clarity regarding what “consent” means to the other person.
Conversation is extremely important when it comes to consent. Never assume someone is comfortable with something, the best is to ask first. Another important thing to remember with consent is respect. Respecting that when someone doesn’t say “no”, it doesn’t translate into “yes”. If someone seems unsure, stays silent, doesn’t respond, or says “maybe”… they are not saying “yes”. Consent is clear and consent is enthusiastic. Lastly, consent does not count for a singular gender. Girls are not the only ones who might want to take it slow and it is not the guy’s job to initiate the action. When it comes to consent, we are all equal and we all have equal responsibility.
The question that comes after thinking about what consent actually means is ‘what does not count as consent?’ And let me make this clear.
Assuming that dressing in a sexy manner, flirting, accepting a ride, accepting a drink, being friendly, etc. is not, in any way, consenting. Saying yes (or saying nothing) when under the influence is not in any way giving consent. Saying yes or giving in because you feel pressured or afraid to say no is not consent.
So, discuss and respect people and their boundaries. And no matter if it’s the first time this activity has occurred or the hundredth time, whether it is a one night stand or your significant other, you are never obliged to consent to something, even if you have in the past. You have the power to stop an activity, you have the right over your own body and your decisions and anyone who does not respect that is not worth your valuable time.