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Content warning: This article discusses topics surrounding sexual assault and sexual intimacy. 

This week someone submitted a question to AskHer requesting an article about consent. Her Campus AU asked one of their writers to write this article highlighting the topic of consent.

Consent by definition is “permission for something to happen or agreement to do something” but consent is also so much more. Consent is freely given, revokable, transparent, enthusiastic, specific, and informed. 

A common misconception surrounding consent is that it can be implied, but this is never true. Even if someone has consented to something before does not mean they are comfortable doing it again. It is essential to ask for consent each and every time.

When engaging in sexual activity, consent is all about clear communication. It is important to set clear boundaries of what you are comfortable with. If you do not feel comfortable engaging in the same acts as your partner, that is completely okay.

A couple sleeping next to each other outside.
Photo by Matheus Ferrero from Unsplash

If you ever feel uncomfortable, you have the right to withdraw from consent at any time. Although it may feel selfish, it is not. You own your body and it is yours to choose what you do with it.

When someone is drunk or intoxicated, their word does not count as consent. Consent is only given when someone is in a clear state of mind. Although it may seem that someone is very enthusiastic, it is important to remember that drugs and alcohol alter one’s conceptions of reality.

Without consent, any sexual activity is sexual assault and/or rape. This includes oral sex, vaginal sex, anal sex, and genital touching.

Consent is not refusing to acknowledge your partner’s boundaries or visible fear.

Coercion related to intimacy is not consent. “Sexual coercion is unwanted sexual activity that happens when you are pressured, tricked, threatened, or forced in a nonphysical way.” In essence sexual coercion is when you feel forced into sexual intimacy with a partner. Although in these situations one may consent, this consent is not freely given and is often given as a result of threats or feelings of defeat.

Your body is your own and it is important to realize that you have control over it. If something doesn’t feel right, you are allowed to stop. It is important to establish and maintain clear communication during sexual intimacy in order to allow for continued consent. Consent is continually granted from both parties so it is important to make sure to take everyone’s feelings into account.

If you need to get in contact with resources regarding an unwanted sexual experience there are many resources available. The National Sexual Assault Hotline is reachable 24/7 at 1-800-656-4637. If this article brought up any feelings of harm or suicide you can text HOME to 741741 for 24/7 crisis counseling.

Gabrielle (she/her/hers) is a sophmore at American University majoring in elementary education and minoring in Spanish. She has been a writer since Fall 2020 and is a print editor for Spring 2021. In her free time, she enjoys working with children and supporting diverse learners.
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