Sexual consent is an important topic, and everyone needs to know what it means to give consent. Providing consent is the difference between a pleasurable activity between two agreeable parties and rape. Consent is only valid if all parties involved agree to participate in the sexual activities, and is invalid at any point that any party no longer wants to participate.
How does consent work?
Consent is a very clearly defined agreement to participate in an activity between two adults. While adolescents and teenagers often explore sexuality, an adult is never legally able to accept consent from a minor. Laws vary from state to state on the age of consent, however. Regardless of gender or role in the relationship, each person must consent to involvement in sex. Whether the people involved have just met or have been married for decades, they both have to consent at all times. Even small actions require consent. From touching and kissing to groping and penetration, all parties must agree to participate without force or coercion. Coercion occurs when a distinct power differential happens between two people, and the person with less power feels the need to please the person with more power. For instance, a student having intercourse with a professor or an employee with a boss. Coercion occurs in mutual relationships as well. For example, a woman providing oral sex to her husband to prevent him from leaving the home.
What is consent?
At the simplest form, consent is an agreement to participate in sexual activity or intercourse. Consent is a clear “yes.” Consent is never when someone says “no” or “maybe.” Consent is not touching someone or making sexual comments without permission because it is entertaining or “spontaneous.” Consent is always mutual, and is always clear.
Is consent always verbal?
Consent may not always come through as a verbal agreement, but if consent is given with a physical gesture, the gesture must be absolutely clear. Consent is never an assumption, though. By assuming that someone smiling or not fighting back is consent, the aggressor becomes a perpetrator of sexual assault. Head nodding, body language, and verbal consent are always the safest forms of consent.
If you are a victim of sexual assault, contact the Rape, Abuse & Incest Network (RAINN).
If you are interested in tips, tricks, and toys for consensual sexual experiences, contact us!