What Is Consent?
Consent is an agreement between participants to engage in sexual activity. Consent must happen every time before any type of sexual activity. For example, if a person was given consent to kiss their partner, that does not give them permission to remove their partner’s clothes—their partner must consent to that additional activity. Furthermore, engaging in consensual sexual activity in the past doesn’t give a person permission to engage in sexual activity again in the future. Last, but definitely not least, a person can ALWAYS withdraw their consent at any point during a sexual activity.
What Consent Looks Like:
- Communication, Communication, Communication! Participants should be able to communicate and agree on the extent of the sexual activity. Phrases like “Is this OK?” should be used when changing the degree of sexual activity.
- Participants must both clearly agree to the sexual activity by without being pressured or coerced.
- Examples of consent statements:
- “That sounds great!”
- “I’d like to…”
- “I want to keep doing this”
- “Can I...?”
- “Are you ready to..?”
What Consent Does NOT Look Like:
- Refusing to acknowledge “no” or physical cues
- Assuming that wearing certain clothes or flirting is an invitation for anything more
- A person who is under the legal age of consent (persons under 16 in NC are not able to give consent!)
- Someone who is under the influence of alcohol or drugs
- Pressuring or intimidating someone into a sexual activity
- Examples of nonconsensual statements and actions:
- “I don’t want to”
- Being silent or not responding
- Pulling away or resisting
- Agreeing to go on a date
Why Is Consent Important?
Communication, trust and respect form the foundation of a healthy relationship, regardless if the relationship is sexually romantic or platonic (not sexual). Consent eliminates the entitlement that one partner may feel over the other thus creating a mutually respectful partnership. When both partners feel respected, physical, sexual, and emotional violence are less likely to occur. Asking for consent represents the moral values you have for yourself and your partner.