The 5 Things You Need to Know About Consent


Whether you’re new to college or a returning upperclassman, having a clear understanding of consent is vital in navigating all of your future relationships, sexual encounters and overall safety. Despite the confusion, so-called “grey areas” and lawsuits, consent is actually pretty cut-and-dry. To survive and thrive on a college campus, here are the five things you need to know about consent.  


Affirmative consent

In other words, “yes” means “yes” when it comes to giving consent - not the “no” means “no” dialogue that we’ve grown up hearing. Affirmative consent is a practice that acknowledges the possibility of one’s inability to say “no.” If a person is incapacitated, asleep or just down-right afraid, their body may freeze (see: freeze response), restricting their ability to revoke consent. Affirmative consent greatly reduces the consent “grey area” - making the “she didn’t say no” argument invalid. In addition, affirmative consent empowers all sexual partners to be in control of everything that is done to his or her body.


Consent can be sexy

A common myth about consent is that continuously asking for consent is a major turn-off. Wrong! Simply asking for consent in the first place is sexy, in that your partner or partners know that you respect them and their bodies. What can be more of a turn-on than knowing that you are completely safe and taken care of in your sexual experiences? Not to mention, the way in which you or a sexual partner ask for consent can be incredibly sexy. Asking “do you like how that feels?” or “can I touch you there?” can be intimate, exciting and titillating questions that will not only affirm consent, but enrich your sexual experience. Check out these 35 sexy ways to ask for consent.


Consenting to X and Y doesn’t mean you consent to Z

Sometimes, when we consent to one sexual activity, we think that we have to consent to all sexual activities. In reality, it’s okay if you don’t want to have intercourse with the person that you’ve been kissing and grinding on at the bar all night. He or she might make you feel like you are obligated to have oral sex or intercourse, telling you that you’ve “led them on” or “left them hanging.” But the truth is, you are empowered to give consent to what makes you comfortable, and you are empowered to revoke consent at any time - even in the middle of a sexual encounter. Consent should be verbal, enthusiastic and continuous.


Consent + alcohol

It’s no secret that alcohol is a major part of college culture; alcohol is all over. Between house parties, small get-togethers with friends and even sporting events, alcohol is pervasive, appealing and a little confusing. When mixing alcohol with sex, some think that consent can get a little blurry. The law states that if a person is incapacitated, he or she is legally unable to give consent. Does this mean that you can’t have drunk sex? Of course not - as long as it is consensual. If someone is slurring, stumbling, making irrational/irresponsible decisions or blacking out, they are unable to give consent. If you are questioning whether or not someone might be incapacitated, don’t have sex. Take their number, and call them another night.


Coercion is not consent

If someone had to convince you to give consent, you didn’t really give consent at all.  Your consent was not freely-given, and therefore, not valid, if you were coerced, manipulated or intimidated in any way. Coercion can be as straight-forward as someone threatening you with force or weapons in order to initiate sex. But it can also be as subtle as your partner repeatedly asking for sex until you give in. No matter the situation, your reason for giving consent shouldn’t include anything other than wanting to have sex. You are the owner of your body, and no one should influence your decision to share your body with others.