Consent is when someone agrees, gives permission, or says “yes” to sexual activity with another person. Consent is freely given and everyone involved in a sexual situation must feel that they are able to say “yes” or “no” or stop the sexual activity at any point. At the heart of consent is the idea that every person has a right to personal sovereignty – the right to not be acted upon by someone else in a sexual manner unless they give that person clear permission. It is the responsibility of the person initiating the sexual activity to get this permission.
Someone consents to vaginal, anal or oral penetration only if s/he agrees by choice, it may be given to one sort of sexual activity but not another, e.g. to vaginal but not anal sex or penetration with conditions, such as wearing a condom. Consent can also be withdrawn at any time during sexual activity and each time activity occurs.
Solving the issue of consent is a long way off.
However, we must continue to talk about it and pursue effective measures to curb sexual violence. One of the ways this can be done is by changing the way sex education programs are taught and understood. Consent needs to be a part of sex education and it needs to be something that we learn and understand from a young age. If we can stop seeing and learning about sex from the dominant patriarchal perspective, it will be possible to encourage and respect mutual pleasure, and empower women to believe that they do have a voice in the bedroom.
Affirmative consent is not just about permission, but about making sure sexual encounters are based on mutual desire and enthusiasm. Each of us is responsible for making sure we have consent in every sexual situation. If in doubt, by all means clarify what your partner feels about the sexual situation before initiating or continuing the sexual activity. Don’t take advantage of someone else inebriation. Hold out for enthusiasm instead of resignation. You don’t need to be a rocket scientist in order to have a conversation in advance about boundaries or to agree on a safe word. And if your partner sends signals that confuse you, stop. What you lose in nights of passion, you will gain in nights of not being a rapist. Consent should not simply be assumed by:
- Body language, appearance, or non-verbal communication.
- Dating relationships or previous sexual activity.
- Previous activity.
- Silence, passivity, lack of resistance, or immobility.
To make it simpler to understand, watch the Tea Consent video below:
But there’s another video I would like to share. Here, the speaker asks men to take the bold step and be at the front row in the fight to end violence against women, and of course men.