Consent Meaning ‘Yes’ Only: What Consent REALLY Means
Let’s talk about consent! Consent meaning yes and yes only, people! It might sound simple, but not everyone understands what consent means.
We don’t talk about it enough, even though it is so crucial to any relationship we have with another person. How do we explain consent? Well, let’s start by discussing what we mean by boundaries.
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What Are Personal Boundaries?
Personal boundaries are the guidelines, rules and limits that a person has in place to protect themselves, their values and what they’re comfortable with. We have physical boundaries (boundaries in place when we interact with someone physically) and emotional boundaries (boundaries in place when we interact with someone emotionally).
When you are intimate with someone both physically and emotionally, this requires a level of trust from both parties and it is essential that both members understand and communicate their boundaries.
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Obtaining Consent Is ESSENTIAL
Consent is the action of gaining permission for something to happen. When it comes to sexual activity, obtaining consent is the only way to have sex; otherwise it is rape. Rape and sexual assault is defined as unlawful sexual activity that happens without the other individual’s active consent.
Whenever you are physically intimate with another person, you should constantly check in to ask if what you’re doing is okay with the other person. A kiss or cuddle doesn’t give you the right to assume that you can perform a sexual act on someone else. To obtain consent, you should ask for permission before you do anything.
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What Consent Looks Like
Consent is communicating every step of the way during sex. For example, asking if it is okay to remove your partner’s shirt. Do not assume that someone is comfortable with something. Ask before you act.
Consent is respecting that just because they didn’t say ‘no’, it doesn’t mean ‘yes’. If someone seems unsure, stays silent or says ‘maybe’, that is NOT consent and you should NOT go any further.
What Consent Does NOT Look Like
Signs that your partner does not respect consent if they:
- Pressure or guilt-trip you into doing things you don’t want to do/aren’t completely comfortable with.
- Make you feel like you ‘owe’ them.
- React negatively if you say ‘no’ or don’t give consent immediately.
- Ignore your wishes and do not pay attention to non-verbal cues to show that you are not consenting e.g. pushing/pulling away.
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Consent Can Be Withdrawn
Even if someone initially consents to something, they have a right to change their mind and withdraw that consent. Just because someone said they originally wanted to have sex, if they display signs that they have changed their mind – e.g. non-verbal cues and body language signs such as pushing away, being quiet and still – you should check in with them. Don’t assume that you can continue just because you think you have consent.
Consent IS Sexy
A lot of people might believe that asking for permission to get up close and personal will be awkward and ‘kill the mood’, but on the contrary it does quite the opposite! Asking for informed consent shows that you respect the other person and respect their boundaries and nothing is sexier than feeling like you’re being cared for and respected!
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What Is Consent Not?
There a number of myths that need to be debunked when it comes to what consent means.
- Flirting doesn’t mean ‘yes’.
- Wearing sexy clothes doesn’t mean ‘yes’.
- A drunk or high yes is not a yes.
- You can be sexually assaulted by your partner.
- If someone is physically aroused (e.g. they have an erection), this still isn’t consent.
- If you’ve had sex with someone before, you still need to obtain consent each and every time you have sex with them.
- Consent cannot be given under the age of 16
Being flirty or wearing revealing clothing does not mean that someone is ‘asking for it’ nor does it mean you have consent.
If you are under the influence of alcohol or drugs, then you cannot consent. Even if someone physically seems aroused, it doesn’t mean that they are consenting.
There are a lot of toxic relationships where people can (and often do sadly) sexually assault their partners by not obtaining consent and believing that the rules of consent are different when in a marriage and/or relationship – they are not. No matter what your relationship timeline looks like, consent only means yes.
The age of consent is 16 years old. So if you are over the age of sixteen and are having sex with someone under the age of sixteen, then that is not only rape but also a criminal offence.
Communicate and be clear about what you are comfortable with. If someone says yes, then it’s a yes. If they don’t, assume it’s a no and stop there.
Consent meaning yes only!
Image credit: Marica Zottino