How to Practice Verbal, Affirmative Consent

Affirmative consent is incredibly important when engaging in sexual activity of any kind. The definition of this kind of consent is “a knowing, voluntary, and mutual decision among all participants to engage in sexual activity.  Consent can be given by words or actions, as long as those words or actions create clear permission regarding willingness to engage in the sexual activity. Silence or lack of resistance, in and of itself, does not demonstrate consent.” Verbal consent is specifically referring to using words in order to express that a person want to engage in sexual activity with another person, so saying yes or no, or any alternative to that. Here are things to keep in mind when thinking about affirmative consent:

1. Consent, especially verbal consent, is required for every situation where people are participating in sexual acts. Even if there has been prior consent in the past between any party, that does not mean that they will consent again or for a different sexual act that they have not participated in before.

2. Consent can be withdrawn at any time, even if a party involved has given consent initially. When this occurs, sexual activity has to stop; just because someone consented in the beginning does not mean that they feel comfortable going further and that has to be respected at all times.3. Even if a person is initiating sexual activity, but they are under the influence of drugs and alcohol, they must still give their consent. This is incredibly important because they are not necessarily in the right state of mind, and might not consent if they were sober, or in a different mental state. SUNY gives an outline of a certain level of intoxication and consent in the following quote, “Depending on the degree of intoxication, someone who is under the influence of alcohol, drugs, or other intoxicants may be incapacitated and therefore unable to consent.

4. In no circumstances can consent be taken as affirmative if it is “by force, intimidation or threats of harm.” Pressuring someone into sexual activity is never ok and any person has the right to say no.