Consent is a simple concept: it’s an on-going verbal agreement to engage in sexual activity with another person. You may have heard the phrase, “No means no,” meaning that if a partner says “no” or “stop” we must stop. So what’s enthusiastic consent all about?
Enthusiastic consent is a verbal, genuine, “YES!” to engage in sexual activity. It is a voluntary, sober, and mutual decision between two people to have sex. In other words, it’s asking “do you want to get lucky?” to ensure that your partner is in agreement (“hell yea, I want to get lucky!”). It’s making sure that a partner is okay with each activity, every step along the way (“Do you like it when I ____ your _____?”). The best way to make sure that you have consent from a partner is to have an on-going conversation and ask questions about his/her sexual needs, desires, likes and dislikes.
What if I’m in a committed relationship? Do I still need consent?
Consent is never implied or assumed, so simply being in a relationship doesn’t mean that you have permission to have sex with a partner whenever, wherever. Consent is a process and both partners should be involved not only in the initial decision to have sex, but also the decision to continue sex once it has started.
How does alcohol affect consent?
Alcohol impairs reaction time and judgment and makes it hard to recognize the absence of consent or subtle body language that a partner does not want to have sex. No matter what their age, a person who has consumed alcohol cannot legally consent to have sex.
What’s the difference between “…yes” and “YES!”?
Sometimes a “yes” can be coerced by a partner. This can occur when one person doesn’t want to have sex, but doesn’t say clearly say “no.” Half-hearted participation in sex is not consent. To avoid this situation, always listen for an enthusiastic “YES!” from a partner as the green light for sex. And if you don’t hear it, slow down and talk with him/her about what they may be interested in doing.
- “Getting A Yes (Instead of Avoiding A No) – The Standard of Enthusiastic Consent” Paging Dr. Nerdlove (http://www.doctornerdlove.com/2013/03/enthusiastic-consent/)
- “Consent is Sexy” The University Health Center, University of Georgia (http://www.uhs.uga.edu/consent/)
SPREAD THE HEALTH: Enthusiastic consent is a voluntary, sober, and mutual decision between two people to have sex. The best way to ensure consent from a partner is to have an on-going conversation and ask questions about sexual needs, desires, likes and dislikes.
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