Consent is a voluntary, enthusiastic, and clear agreement between the participants to engage in specific sexual activity.

Consent is ongoing:

  • Saying yes to one sexual act does not mean saying yes to all sexual acts.

  • A person is able to change their mind at any point in the process.

  • If either person engaging in sexual activity decides they no longer want to continue, STOP.

Consent is clear:

  • The absence of "no" does not equal "yes".

  • Check in with your partner each step of the way. Ensure there is a desire to continue. When unsure, stop.

  • If either person engaging in sexual activity is intoxicated, under the influence, or unconscious, STOP.

An Illustration Of Consent

Quiz

After a fun night out, Jordan and Mel have both agreed to have sex with one another. After some time has past, Jordan no longer seems eager, but does not say to stop. Mel should:

Try to lighten the mood with a joke

Stop and check in with Jordan

Continue until Jordan says to stop

Think less about how Jordan is feeling

Communicate & Check In

As illustrated with Mel and Jordan, consent must always be given before engaging in sex. Consent must be continually given during sex too.

Consent can be given through verbal cues (yes!), or non-verbal cues (active participation, smiles, nods). However, consent can be withdrawn at any time through verbal cues (no, stop) or non-verbal cues (reluctance, fidgeting).

The best way to ensure that consent is being given consistently is to ask questions consistently. This will help your parter feel safe, heard, and able to enjoy what is happening. You will too!

Questions to Ask Prior to Initiating Sex

  • How far do you want to go tonight?

  • What are you comfortable with?

Questions to Ask During Sex

  • Is this okay?

  • Do you feel comfortable?

  • How are you feeling?

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Summary

Consent is a critical part of sex and must be given freely, continually, and clearly by all parties. Individuals who are unconscious, under the influence, or intoxicated cannot give consent even if they are saying yes.

Consent can be withdrawn at any point of the process. It's never too late. Reassure your partner that it's okay to stop at any moment. Ask them questions about what they like and how they are feeling. If at any point they feel or seem unsure, stop and check in with them. If at any point they say stop or no, stop immediately.

A great way to remember the components of consent are FRIES:

  • Freely given

  • Reversible

  • Informed

  • Enthusiastic

  • Specific

After all, who doesn't like fries?

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This Byte has been authored by

MM

Mandy Mekhail

Strengths-Based & Cultural Responsive Practitioner