Consent: The "Yes"

Consent must be affirmative, fully educated and aware, and mutual. Consent must be affirmative because consent that is unclear cannot be considered as consent; therefore, it must be a clear and verbal “yes, I consent” in order for it to have any value. Consent must also be given under full awareness and education of what the individual is consenting to. One cannot, for example, consent to something that they do not know. Finally, consent must be mutual. I think it is a common misunderstanding and mispractice of (especially sexual) consent that what matters is the one that is given by the gender minority such as females. However, it is critical that both parties or all parties engaging in an action must consent to the same thing, fully aware and educated.

Consent is also not absolute. This means it is retractable anytime, under any circumstances. With a simple “no,” consent that was given before no longer holds power. Therefore, continuance of the activity that was once consented but no longer, is nothing but coercion beyond the point of retraction of consent.

Therefore, consent can only be given by people who are equal to one another. There must be no pressure or power dynamic that tarnishes the mutual consent. Anyone who is capable of making one’s own decision based on oneself’s interest can consent under the definition provided. Consent, however, remains a tricky term because of certain cases where individuals are often told that they cannot consent. For example, minors’ consent to sexual intercourse with an adult holds little meaning in the eyes of the law. Also, “mentally impaired” individuals “cannot” consent to intercourse either. Such laws exist to protect minorities that may not necessarily be fully aware of the consequences of their consent. Yet an inherent dilemma about “consent” arises — if consent is an acknowledgment of autonomy over one’s own body, how can laws tell certain people that their power of consent, therefore autonomy is curbed?

Inherently, my definition of consent is also making the assumption that it has a lot to do with the functionality. In order for a party’s consent to be fully educated and aware, it is implying a premise that the party is fully functional to be aware of the situation.