Consent has always been a tricky topic. The unfortunate truth is that most people are still not clear about sexual consent and the difference between consensual sex and coercion. This is why a lot of people, both men and women, end up having sex under duress. They later feel guilty or disgusted with themselves, without realising that what happened to them wasn't an act of love but probably rape, sexual assault or abuse.
So what is consent? It is defined as 'permission for something to happen or agreement to do something' or 'give permission for something to happen'. And that is exactly what it is. Giving your partner permission to indulge in sexual activities with you. But this consent needs to be a verbal admission, not an implied non-verbal communication. Just because you are in love with someone or planning a future together does not mean you are consenting to sexual activities. The two are mutually exclusive. You could be madly in love and still not ready to have sex.
To gage whether you're having consensual sex or not, here are some facts you must remember:
1. Consent is always given freely. You don't have to force somebody, bribe them or emotionally blackmail them into giving it.
2. The person needs to be in their senses while giving consent. If your partner is drunk or clearly not in control of their mind or body at a particular time, the consent is invalid.
3. It is absolutely and completely reversible. Once you've said yes, you can totally change your mind and say no later on. After all, it is your body and you have the agency over it.
4. Giving consent is an informed choice. The person should be aware of all the circumstance before they consent to something. Telling your partner you are going to use a condom and then not doing so (called stealthing) is a violation of the consent given by your partner.
5. They should consent to the act happily. The person you're asking permission from should be equally enthusiastic about having sex with you. They shouldn't be guilt-tripped into it. That's not consent, folks!
6. Saying yes to one thing does not mean saying yes to everything. Asking your partner to make out and then forcing them into having sex with you is NOT a consensual act.
7. Consent should never be assumed. Just because you went into a room with a boy (who could also be your boyfriend) does not mean you consented to having sex with them!
A verbal 'yes/yay/okay/we can' and similar words when said, keeping in mind the seven points mentioned above, are a green signal.
1. Saying 'no'.
2. Saying 'nothing'.
3. Total silence.
4. Replying with a 'maybe' or some other form of non-committal answer.
5. Saying yes because they've been forcing you but you don't feel like it at all.
6. Saying yes because you fear for your safety.
7. Saying yes when you're under the influence of alcohol/drugs.
8. Saying yes because you feel like you don't have another option.
9. Saying yes but later changing it to a no.
10. Forcing your partner to say yes because you did something nice for them.
11. Not asking and forcing yourself on them - well that's rape.
Basically, anything apart from an explicit yes is a no!
If you're still doubtful about consent and what it means, we actually have a video to make it easier for you.
Make informed choices, ladies!