Consent is defined as:
The unambiguous and willing participation or cooperation in act, behavior or attitude that is commonly understood to be consistent with the exercise of free will.
Consent requires participants who are lawful adults, fully conscious, equally free and legally competent to act, have clearly communicated their willingness, cooperation or permission to participate in the specific sexual activity engaged in, are positive and clear about their desires and are able to cease ongoing consensual activity at any time.
Refusal to consent does not have to be verbal; it can be expressed with clear gestures, body language or attitude.
Prior sexual history, by itself, does not constitute consent, nor does consenting to sexual activity with one person imply consent to sexual activity with another person.
Consent is Coherent
A person cannot consent if he or she is incapacitated due to drugs or alcohol.
You may be able to tell if someone is incapacitated if he or she:
- Is unable to stand or walk without wobbling, falling or needing to lean on something or someone for support.
- Has slurred speech and difficulty communicating.
- Is passed out or sleeping.
- Has vomited or urinated on himself or herself.
When in doubt, just stop. Respect yourself and your partner!
Getting consent doesn’t have to be awkward.
Here are some questions you can ask before moving forward:
- Is this okay?
- Do you want to?
- Have you been drinking?
- Are you comfortable with…?
- Do you want to slow down?
- Would you like me to…?
- Are you sure?
- Tell me what you want.
Sometimes people communicate with actions and body language. These are some non-verbal cues that your partner isn’t interested in continuing, and you need to stop:
- Not responding to your touch
- Pushing you away
- Holding her or his arms tightly around her or his body
- Turning away from you or hiding her or his face
- Stiffening muscles
Consent can be revoked at any time. If you want to stop, say so! You always have the right to say no, and you can always change your mind at any time, regardless of your past with your partner or what is happening at the moment. Below are some phrases that you can use if you want to stop:
- “I want to stop.”
- “I need to go to the bathroom.”
- “I’m going to be sick.”