When it comes to sexual activity and sex, you have the right to decide when you do it, where you do it, and how you do it. For any sexual activity to happen, everyone needs to consent, or say yes, willingly and freely. Another way to think about consent is that only yes means yes. Sexual activity does not just mean sex, it includes kissing, hugging, making out, cuddling, and touching someone’s body in a sexual way.
So, how do you know if someone wants to make out or have sex? You have to ask! If they aren’t sure or don’t say anything that means the answer is no. In other words, anything other than yes, means no. We know that consent can be a lot more complicated than just saying “yes.” Many people communicate non-verbally, through eye contact and body language. Unfortunately, non-verbal communication can sometimes lead to misunderstandings, if you are
unsure, stop and ask.
Important Things to Know About Consent
1) If someone thinks they received non-verbal consent for sex but the other person really wasn’t interested, then it could lead to rape or assault if they act on their mistaken belief. Criminal charges can result in situations where someone did not give their consent to sex or sexual activity.
2) You have the right to change your mind at any point and the sexual activity or sex has to stop. Not stopping when the other person wants to stop is called sexual assault. There is no excuse for not stopping, and part of consent means listening to and respecting your partner.
3) Trying to turn someone’s “no” into an “ok, I guess so” is called sexual coercion. Coercion is when someone keeps asking even after hearing no, or tries to threaten or bribe the other person by saying things like, “if you loved me you would” or “my ex would do this with me, why won’t you?” Sexual coercion is disrespectful and is a form of sexual assault.
4) Nobody has the right to ask you to consent to sex when you are under the influence of alcohol or drugs. People sometimes make different choices after using drugs or alcohol than they would usually make. This is why we are not able to give informed consent if we are using drugs or alcohol. Getting someone drunk or high in order to have sex with them is assault.
Remember, not asking for consent can result in criminal charges and you could go to jail.
How to Ask for Consent
Asking for consent helps you and your partner be clear on each other’s wants and needs and shows that you are respecting one another’s boundaries. Here are some simple ways to ask for consent:
“Would it be okay with you if… ?”
“I’ve always wanted to try ___ what do you think?”
“This feels good for me, does it feel good for you?”
“Are you comfortable with this?”
“How do you feel about this?”
“Do you like this?”
“What are you comfortable with?”
“What do you like?”
(Adapted from Teen Talk, 2019).
Teen Talk. (n.d.). Consent and sexual assault.
Retrieved June 25, 2019, from https://teentalk.ca/learn-about/consent-2/