‘What is consent?’ It is a question that is asked all the time. What exactly does and does not count as consent?
In general, people may think that consent is a simple ‘yes’ between two adults when those two adults are about to engage in intercourse. Easy, right? Wrong, it is not always that simple.
The general and highly pertinent question is: what does and does not count as a clear ‘yes’?
There are a few things you need to ask yourself when it comes to consent. Is my partner sober and in their right mind? If the answer is ‘no’, it is simply non-consensual. Consent is valid when all persons participating in a sexual encounter give a clear and sober yes. This part is integral. If you are unable to legally drive a vehicle, then it is likely that you are unable to give informed consent.
There is a common misconception that consent is a ‘yes’ given at the beginning of a sexual encounter. What many people do not realise is that consent needs to be clear and given constantly. So many people end up in uncomfortable situations because they have given consent at the beginning of sex and anything that happens afterwards is simply okay. This is not true. Consent can be taken away at any point during a sexual encounter.
Ensuring that you have consent shows you truly respect your partner. The sweet and important question ‘can I kiss you?’, I think, can be extremely sexy while also demonstrating respect and equality.
When it comes to what happens in the bedroom, it is important to make sure that everyone feels safe and comfortable. Just because your partner is okay with one form of sexual expression, it certainly does not mean that they will be okay with everything. It is essential to always seek consent before you do anything.
Another issue pertaining to consent is whether your partner genuinely means ‘yes’. Generally, if your partner has said ‘no’ several times before caving in and saying ‘yes’, that is not consent! Nagging and pressuring someone else into sexual encounters is extremely wrong and it does not make for a safe and fun environment, which is what sex should ultimately be. However, sometimes people may immediately say ‘yes’, for a variety of reasons, even if they are actually unsure or against the idea. Therefore, sometimes you need to read your partner’s body language to make sure that they are acting in such a way that screams ‘YES!’
Whether you are in a relationship, married, having one nightstand or it is your best friend, what is important to remember when entering into a sexual experience, is that you have the power and the right to say ‘no’ to anything, anytime. You do not need to feel guilty for this.
Asking your partner every step of the way if it is okay to do something is not only necessary, but it can also avoid many issues. Some people just do not like to be randomly kissed or touched and can have negative reactions to it. So this is a short run down on consent. It is a necessary part of having a fun, safe sexual experience.
Words by Jaz Priddey
Artwork by Sheydin Dew