Consent is an active, voluntary agreement to any form of physical intimacy. Sex without consent is rape, so it is vitally important to ask for consent and respect the answer every time. We can never assume that someone is consenting without asking them for their consent and being aware of their body language. This is why we adhere to the Affirmative Consent Standard.
Affirmative Consent Standard
The Affirmative Consent Standard states that the person who initiates sexual contact must receive a VERBAL YES from the other person before engaging in any sexual activity -- and that consent must be ongoing throughout the entire sexual encounter. Under this standard, it is the responsibility of the person who initiates sexual contact to make sure they have the verbal consent of the other person or people involved -- instead of more traditional standards, which assumes it is a person's responsibility to say "no" if they do not want to engage sexually with another person or people.
If you want to ensure you have consent
- ASK and respect the answer every single time
- Check in throughout a sexual encounter to make sure you and your partner(s) feel safe and comfortable
- Communicate - take responsibility for creating a space where you do not violate someone else's boundaries
- If they say no, you can walk away feeling glad that you didn't make someone feel uncomfortable or unsafe
- If alcohol is involved, it's better to wait. Consent can't be given when someone is impaired or incapacitated by alcohol.
- that a lack of a "no" does not mean "yes"
- that threatening or coercing someone in to saying "yes" is sexual assault
- that a "yes" once does not mean a "yes" always - even in dating relationships, we can never assume consent
- that a "yes" can never be implied - even if we think body language is telling us to move forward, we are still responsible for checking in
If you are still struggling with affirmative consent, check out this amazing video about consent and tea.