Consent and Communication
Giving and Getting Consent
- Your body is yours and yours alone. You are the only person who can decide what to do with it. If you want someone to do something to your body, you must first give them permission, or consent. Likewise, if you want to do something to someone else’s body, you must first get their consent.
- Consent has to be communicated clearly and verbally. Implied consent, or when you “think” someone might be giving their consent from non-verbal cues such as body language and behavior, can be tricky to read and easily misinterpreted.
- When it comes to consent, yes means yes and anything other than yes means no. Saying yes should be easy and fun when you know what you want to do and you don’t feel pressured by your partner.
- Consent applies on a moment-to-moment basis. Just because you consented to something last night does not mean you have consented to doing the same thing tonight. At any point during a sexual activity, you have the right to withdraw your consent and stop.
- If you are substantially impaired from drug or alcohol consumption, or physically incapable of communicating (ie. asleep), you cannot consent to any sexual activity.
- If you do not or cannot consent to a sexual activity and the other person does it anyway, that is called sexual assault. If you have experienced sexual assault, remember it was not your fault. Consider telling a trusted adult and visit this page for local resources or Planned Parenthood to review your options.
“Ok, I want to do it… but let’s talk about it first.”When you are sexually active, or want to be, it is important to communicate effectively about your expectations, preferences, and boundaries with whomever you are with. Talking about sex doesn’t have to be awkward or unnatural – you communicate your expectations, preferences, and boundaries for non-sexual things all the time! * Talking about sex with your partner is just like ordering and eating a pizza together:
“Do you want to order pizza tonight?” “Yes! Pizza would be great.”
- First, you decide to order a pizza because you both want to enjoy it together, not because you feel obligated to eat pizza when your partner is in the mood for it or anything like that.
“Okay, what should we order? The usual?” “Actually, I kind of want to change it up this time.”
- Next, you have to figure out what to order. Maybe last week you wanted mushrooms on top, but now you’re really into olives – you express this preference with your partner and they also share their feelings on what kind of pizza they want to eat today. Preferences change all the time, so of course you will only order the pizza that you feel like eating right now.
“Can we get pepperoni and spinach?” “I don’t really feel like eating spinach right now, but pepperoni sounds good.”
- Together, you discuss, negotiate, and decide on the type of pizza you will order because you care about your own as well as your partner’s satisfaction and pleasure.
“I really like this pizza. How is it for you?” “Wow, this pizza tastes so good.” OR “It tastes pretty good, but do you think we could add some chilli flakes?” OR “It was great, but I’m actually full now so I’m going to stop eating.” OR “I’m actually not really in the mood for pizza anymore.”
- Lastly, you get to eat and enjoy your pizza together! You check in with your partner to see how they like it and make changes accordingly to maximize pleasure for the both of you. If you decide that you no longer want to eat the pizza, telling your partner that you want to stop will be no big deal because they should not force you to finish the pizza when you don’t want to.