Can I Do That?: Understanding Boundaries in a Modern World

Chances are, you have been in a situation where you didn't quite know what the right thing to do was. Whether it was at a party, on your phone, or at a friend's dorm, you may have felt confused and unsure if you were in the clear to act on your desires.

Well, now you can know for sure. Here is a list of what's cool and what is really, really not in situations that you may not be familiar with, including some general rules.

General Rules:

It is NEVER okay to have sex with somebody who is unconscious, incoherent, blacked out, or asleep.

It is NEVER okay to put something in somebody's drink.

It is NEVER okay to threaten somebody into having sexual relations with you.

It is NEVER okay to use physical violence on somebody to get what you want.

It is NEVER okay to continue doing something after you have been told to stop.

It is NEVER okay to shame somebody for their actions, especially on social media.

It is NEVER okay to touch somebody inappropriately without their permission.

Now, here are some instances you may not be as familiar with. All of these apply to whether you are single, in a relationship, or anything in between.

Cool:

Meeting somebody at a party or function, hitting it off, and asking for their number.

Not Cool:

Meeting somebody at a party or function, asking for their number, and when they reply "no," following them around or harassing them until they say "yes." This can even be applied to social media—if you have to be blocked by somebody, you were crossing a boundary.

Cool:

Mutually consenting (with clear communication including an answer of "yes" from both parties) with a partner to be intimate, and agreeing on the events occurring every step of the way.

Not Cool:

Mutually consenting with a partner to be intimate, and then forcing them (or doing the new action without even asking) to continue even if they have not agreed to the events that follow. Think of it this way: if somebody has had enough tea, don't keep forcing them to drink the tea.

Cool:

Being of age and having a couple of drinks with somebody before getting intimate (following above consent).

Not Cool:

Continuously feeding somebody drinks to "loosen them up" to a point where they cannot legally consent. Whether this is intentional or not, it is never okay. Look at general rules if you're still confused.

Cool:

Being of age and agreeing with your partner to send *R-rated* images that stay entirely between each other.

Not Cool:

Sending somebody a "d*ck pic" or anything of that sort without consent, or harassing somebody to send some of themselves when they do not want to.

Also, Not Cool:

Sharing images sent to you privately with anybody other than the sender themself.

Cool:

Mutually agreeing on the type of protection used during sex.

Not Cool:

Choosing on your own to not use protection. Pro tip: if somebody can't tell you if they want to use a condom, then they probably cannot consent.

Cool:

Being proactive with getting tested and letting your partner know if you have any type of STI or STD.

Not Cool:

Having sex with somebody who is unaware of your sexual health.

Cool:

Being open and comfortable with your friends of all sexes and genders.

Not Cool:

Taking advantage of your friends and not respecting their boundaries physically, emotionally, or socially.

Although this only includes some situations that you need to be aware of, I hope you learned something from it. Just violating one of these things can have a huge impact on your and the other party's lives. Before acting on an unclear situation, take a step back and evaluate. The bottom line is that communication is key. If you do not have somebody's conscious consent, don't do it. It can be as simple as that.