Consent is when people share their boundaries and are given clear permission before a specific activity – whether that be a hug, a back rub, a kiss, or sexual activities.
Consent is an informed, voluntary, and mutual decision that people feel good about. All people involved understand what they are agreeing to, and have had a conversation about boundaries so that each person involved feels safe and heard. Consent is an ongoing conversation, and can be withdrawn at any time if one of the people involved feels uncomfortable, even if that person gave consent in the past for the same activity. Consent can be verbal (including sign language) or non-verbal, so long as the words and actions used are clear for everyone involved. It is everyone’s shared responsibility to seek and receive consent.
Consent helps us navigate our boundaries and the boundaries of the people we interact with. It is important that we never presume or guess what peoples’ boundaries are, and always respect everyone’s right to pass or say no to any activity.
How to have the conversation
When talking about consent, everyone needs to check in with the other person/people by asking questions to be sure you have a clear yes. Some questions a person can ask are:
- Are you comfortable with this?
- Are you sure you want to do this?
- Do you want me to keep going?
- Are you enjoying this?
- Are you okay with this?
- A person’s clothing does not give others permission to yell at them or touch their body.
- A person cannot get consent from someone if they are incapacitated by drugs or alcohol.
- A person cannot get consent from someone by pressuring or guilting them into saying yes.
- A person cannot get consent from someone if they are passed out or sleeping.