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What is Consent?

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Yes Means Yes

Together we can make sure that when sex happens it is a positive experience for everyone involved. This positive experience is based upon consent, mutual agreement by both parties involved to every action that occurs along the way. Consent means both of you are ready and willing to share that moment and that both of you have control over what that moment will be like. In other words, both people have to say “Yes” and to continue to say “Yes” as the interactions continue—this is what healthy intimacy is all about!


  • Is enthusiastic, free-willing, clear, concise, mutual and on-going
  • Can be verbal or non-verbal
    • High-five, thumbs up, head nod “yes”
  • Cannot be given if either partner is
    • Under the influence of drugs and/or alcohol
    • Asleep or unconscious
    • Coerced in any way

How Do I Know If It’s a Yes

While someone might not always verbally say “Yes” to sex, there are some basic guidelines to follow to make sure both parties consent:

  • Consent is informed. It’s something you decide to do, not just let happen. It’s okay to talk about what you’re feeling and what you want to do - that’s how you’ll know that you both agree on moving forward.
  • Consent is voluntary. It’s never okay to force someone to have sex, including threatening, intimidating, or pressuring them.
  • Consent can be taken back. Just because someone agrees to one form of sexual activity doesn’t mean she or he is willing to do other forms of sexual activity. Positive sexual activities require both persons to check in with each other along the way and to make sure each new step is okay. It’s also okay for someone to change his or her mind and not want to continue a certain form of sexual activity.
  • Consent is aware. A person can’t consent to sex when she or he is incapacitated, such as being drunk, under the influence of drugs, sleeping, or affected by a physical or mental impairment that makes them unable to decide to consent.
  • Silence does not mean yes

Watch this really cool video comparing tea to consent: Tea Consent.

Consent is not:

  • If someone says no repeatedly and finally says yes
  • If someone is incapacitated by substances
  • If someone has only agreed to an earlier act
  • If someone says nothing
  • If someone is never asked for consent
  • If someone has been made to feel that they must say yes
  • If someone uses their position of power or authority to coerce or manipulate someone into saying yes

In what circumstances can a person not give consent by law?

  • When the person is incapacitated or unconscious as a result of alcohol or drugs
  • When the person is mentally disabled
  • Once a person says “no”, it does not matter if or what kind of sexual behavior has happened previously in the current event, early that day, or daily for the previous six months. It does not matter if it is a current long-term relationship, a broken relationship, or marriage. If one partner says, “NO,” and the other continues with the sexual interaction, a sexual assault is occurring

What are the perks of asking for consent?

  • Asking for and obtaining consent shows that you have respect for both yourself and your partner
  • Enhances communication, respect, and honesty, which make sex and relationships better
  • Ability to know and be able to communicate the type of sexual relationship you want
  • Knowing how to protect yourself and your partner against STIs and pregnancy
  • Opportunity to acknowledge that you and your partner(s) have sexual needs and desires
  • Identify your personal beliefs and values and respecting your partner’s personal beliefs and values
  • Builds confidence and self-esteem
  • Challenges stereotypes that rape is a women’s issue
  • Challenges sexism and traditional views on gender and sexuality
  • Positive views on sex and sexuality are empowering
  • Eliminates the entitlement that one partner might feel over another. Neither your body or your sexuality belong to someone else.

What if someone is drunk, high, or out of it?

  • Drugs and alcohol can affect people’s ability to make decisions, including whether or not they want to be sexual with someone else. This means that if someone is really out of it, they cannot give consent.
  • Being with them in a sexual way when they don’t know what is going on is the same as rape.
  • If you see a friend who is out of it and is being intimate with someone, you should pull them aside and try your best to make sure that person is safe and knows what he or she is doing. If it’s the opposite situation, and your friend is trying to engage in a sexual encounter with someone who is out of it, you should try to pull them aside and stop them from getting themselves into trouble.

How do you know if someone has given consent?

The only way to know for sure if someone has given consent is if they tell you. It’s not always easy to let people know that you are not happy about something. Sometimes the person you’re with might look like they are happy doing something, but inside they are not. They might not know what to say or how to tell you that they are uncomfortable. One of the best ways to determine if someone is uncomfortable with any situation, especially with a sexual one, is to simply ask. Here are some examples of the questions you might ask:

  • Is there anything you don’t want to do?
  • Are you comfortable?
  • Do you want to stop?
  • Do you want to go further?

How can you tell if someone isn't into it?

There are many ways of communicating. The look on someone’s face and their body language is also a way of communicating and often has more meaning than the words that come out of their mouth.
Here are some ways body language can let you know if the person you’re with is not comfortable with what is happening:

  • Not responding to your touch
  • Pushing you away
  • Holding their arms tightly around their bodies
  • Turning away from you or hiding their face
  • Stiffening muscles

Asking questions and being aware of body language helps you to figure out if the person you’re with is consenting and feeling comfortable, or not consenting and feeling uncomfortable. If you get a negative or non-committal answer to any of these questions, or if your partner’s body language is like any of the above examples, then you should stop what you are doing and talk to them about it.

How can someone slow things down?

Taking your time, making sure you are both comfortable, and talking about how far you want to go will make the time you spend together a lot more satisfying and enjoyable for both of you. Sometimes things move very quickly. Below are some things you can say to slow things down if you feel that things are moving too quickly.

  • I don’t want to go any further than kissing, hugging, touching.
  • Can we stay like this for a while?
  • Can we slow down?

How can someone stop something from happening?

You always have the right to say “no” and you always have the right to change your mind at any time regardless of your past experiences with other people or the person you are with. Below are some things you can say or do if you want so stop:

  • Say “No”
  • Say “I want to stop”
  • Say “I need to go to the bathroom/toilet”

In a situation where the other person isn’t listening to you and you feel unsafe, you could pretend you are going to vomit. (It’s amazing how quickly someone moves away from you if they think you are going to be sick).