“What do you mean, when you nod your head yes, but you wanna say no/What do you mean?”
- -What do you mean? – Justin Bieber.
Every time someone asks me what makes a relationship, without a doubt my response is trust, respect, love in that particular order. If you can’t trust someone with any part of your existence, you can’t respect them. Trust me, there’s nothing worse than having zero respect for someone, it is impossible to love or have any affectionate feelings towards that person. Therefore, consent is vital; not only to display respect to this person but also a tinsie bit of affection – which of course due to the construct complexities of modern human interactions, might not be the case. ‘No’, ‘Yes’, ‘Stop’, ‘Wait’ – this is what consent sounds like. Consent can come across as a complicated issue for anyone, especially when it is in the heat of an intimate moment. As much as we think or feel that things just happen, it is much safer to be sure than have regrets.
Consent is something not so many people are sure about and the conversations about it are hushed as they are too uncomfortable. Every time the word consent comes up automatically we are drawn to sexual context. Well, it is practically most important then as it is in any human interaction that requires confirmation or willingness of both parties to engage in an activity. Consent scenarios are all around us: participation in research, T&Cs, email prompts and so on. For reference in this article, consent is limited to sexual or intimate context. Just for the record consent is for those of age (18+), any sexual or intimate activity with a minor is simply psycho – yes I said it, anyone making sexual advances to a minor has a particularly special place in hell and is sick in their damn head.
Any non-consensual engagement, especially if sexual is considered an assault and can, well – should be charged by law. There shouldn’t be assumptions about the other party being down to whatever you have in mind without verbally agreeing to it. One of the key things to note about consent Is that it has to be verbal; crisp and clear and no means just that -no. Both parties need to understand and accept what they’re getting into through all stages of the intimacy. It is much safer to include phrases like, “May I?”, “Are you comfortable with this?” all through the intimate activity, especially at the very beginning. Consent shouldn’t be coerced. It should be willingly obtained from one’s partner and I insist respected. I discourage any intimate activities when any of the parties are intoxicated consent in such incidences is considered null and void. The absence of ‘no’ does not imply it’s a go.
I believe what makes consent burdensome is the fear of rejection. Which in case happens, should be respectfully accepted. Remember consent is about personal boundaries, agreeing to what one is comfortable with and disagreeing with what does not work for them. Consent is also subject to change; one is free to change their mind as they wish. Never assume you know exactly what the other person wants, sexually, without confirming it from them. Always ask for consent, always. Silence is not consent. And to respond to JB; it’s a no dude. Non-censual sex is rape. Rape is inexcusable, there’s simply no reason whatsoever that justifies rape. Period.