Sexual Consent 101
Artwork by Hanako Mori
What is sexual consent?
Consent is giving permission for something to happen. It’s agreeing to engage in sexual activity and it applies to all kinds of sexual encounters be it oral sex, sexual intercourse, or simply touching!
Who needs consent?
It doesn’t matter if you’re hooking up with someone you met from a bar, or if you’re sleeping with a friend, or with a significant other, you need consent from each person you engage in sexual activity with. Even if you are dating someone or you are married to them, you are still not entitled to their body and you need their consent before every sexual encounter.
What does not qualify as consent?
There are many things that are not indications of consent such as:
The other person being intoxicated or asleep (or both).
Coercion- which is persisting to attempt to have sexual relations with someone who has already refused or exploiting power to obtain sexual favors.
Silence- just because someone isn’t saying anything doesn’t mean they’re okay with what’s happening.
Having consented to a sexual activity before- just because someone had sex with you earlier doesn’t mean they want to or have to now.
When do you need consent?
Before you are about to engage in any type or form of sexual activity. You must maintain consent throughout the entire time. Consent is something that can be retracted, it can be given and then taken away. Just because someone agreed to something once or at an earlier time, doesn’t mean they’re always okay with it!
Why does consent matter?
If you don’t have clear consent, it’s sexual assault.
Sexual assault is “any type of sexual activity contact or behavior without the explicit consent (permission) of the recipient.”
One form of intimate or sexual engagement does not constitute of another. For example, if you are making out with someone, this is not them giving you their consent to have sex.
So, how do you make sure you have consent?
Put very simply, JUST ASK.
Consent is not something that can always be insinuated. You need to receive an affirmative OK. There are no blurred lines in the world of consensual relationships.