Consent: What Is It and Why Is It so Important?

In the United States alone, a sexual assault occurs every 98 seconds.

Misconceptions about the true meaning of consent are a major factor leading to sexual assaults throughout the world.

In its most simple and basic form, consent is known as a clear expression of agreement to engage in a particular activity. It’s voluntary. There are a lot of aspects to consent; as a result, people today often have misconceptions about what is and isn’t consent.  But, there are no excuses for not getting consent every single time. All you have to do is ask; it’s as simple as that.

Courtesy: The Central Times

 

What isn’t consent:

  • Silence
  • A pressured yes
  • A hesitant head nod

All three of these responses are unacceptable forms of consent in any circumstance.

Some Other Important Notes:

  • Date rape is a real thing. Being in a relationship with someone doesn’t entitle you to do whatever you choose. Consent is necessary every single time. No excuses and no exceptions.
  • Just because you did it before doesn’t mean you have to do it again. You are not required to do anything. If you don’t want to, then you don’t have to.  
  • If you say yes and change your mind, that’s okay!  
  • If someone agrees to a specific thing/activity, and you do not follow his or her instructions, consent was not given. An example of this includes if a person agrees to have sex with a partner with a condom and the other party takes it off. This is not acceptable.  
  • If someone seems unsure or clearly worried about it, this is not consent. Always double check if a person seems wary about the situation. If this hesitation continues, do not follow through with any plan to engage in sexual activities.  
  • Consent, for one thing, doesn’t give you permission to do other things.  
  • Making the excuse “you seemed like you were into it so I thought it was okay,” is not acceptable. What you thought is not a tolerable substitute for getting a verbal “yes” from the person involved.  
  • Someone intoxicated in any way or on drugs doesn’t have the ability to consent. Their abilities are impaired, and anything a person says while under the influence should not be considered a sound decision.  
  • Lack of resistance doesn’t mean yes. Just because a person isn’t actively shoving you off of them doesn’t mean you can continue. Some people freeze up and are afraid to say no. If they didn’t specifically agree to it, then don’t do it.  
  • Acting negatively when getting the answer “no” isn’t okay either. If a person says “no” to something, then, quite simply enough, it means no. Guilting a person into saying yes does not equate to consent. If a person does not wish to do something, then respect their answer and move on.

To anyone who has experienced sexual assault, remember this: it’s not your fault. It’s normal to feel negatively towards yourself after experiencing something like this, calling yourself “worthless”, “trashy” or “disgusting." Your mind may be racing with these thoughts, but they're 100% false. It’s crucial for you to remember that these labels you give yourself are not who you truly are. They’re what someone else’s decisions and actions made you feel. Do not let them define you.