Consent is the first step to maybe having a sexual experience with another person. This includes touching and kissing.
How to ask for consent:
“Can I kiss you?”
“Do you want to do _____?”
“Do you like ______?”
“What do you like?”
“What do you want to try?”
“Do you want to be touched here?”
“I don’t like ____, is there anything you don’t like?”
Consent can be sexy, because talking about what each person wants can make it more fun and pleasurable for everyone. Consent gives you a chance to find out what the person you’re with is into and what they like.
It’s important to ask and listen to their answer. Consent really comes down to respecting each other. It’s also important to pay attention to other responses like body language and tone of voice. If they pull away, go limp, act uninterested and don’t kiss or touch you back, you need to stop. If their yes sounds unsure, uncomfortable or awkward, it’s not really a yes and you should stop. Everyone involved should be enthusiastic and into what’s happening and excited to have sex.
It’s important to know that consent means people have the right to change their mind or stop at any time. If you are with someone and they want to stop, you should respect that choice and not make them feel bad for stopping.
Consent is mandatory, because consensual sex means everyone is into what’s happening. If one person isn’t into it, it’s not sex, it’s assault.
Long term relationships need consent too. It’s always important to ask for consent, even if you’ve been dating someone for a while. Just because you’ve been together for a long time doesn’t mean that person will always want to have sex.
Saying things like, “are you into this?” or, “can we do this?” shows that you respect your partner(s).
It is always okay to say no to sex or touching, no matter if it’s a one-time thing or a person you’ve dated for a long time.
Maybe you’ve heard someone say, “If you really loved me, you’d have sex with me.” This is disrespectful and manipulative. The perfect response to this is, “if you love me, you’ll respect my decision and my body.” Or, “if you love me you will get consent.” Or, “I do love you, but I don’t want to have sex right now.” Love is about respect, care and trust, not coercion.
It’s important to respect what the other person says and to handle any feelings of rejection. It’s okay to be rejected, it happens to everyone sometimes. It’s never okay to make someone feel bad for saying no. Consent means talking and asking in a respectful way. If your response sounds sarcastic, angry or judgmental, it can make someone feel unsafe or pressured, which is coercion, not consent.
Some healthy ways to deal with rejection:
Say “that’s cool”, “no worries”, “thanks for being honest about what you want”, etc.
Go for a walk.
Do something for yourself. Self-care comes in many forms so find something you enjoy doing by yourself or with friends. For example, this could be listening to music, watching a movie, painting, or writing.
Talk about it with someone you trust, like a friend, family member or a counselor.
Take responsibility for your own feelings, don’t blame the other person.
Let yourself feel sad if you feel sad about it, don’t repress the hurt feeling, acknowledge it, and know that it’s a normal human emotion and it will pass.
Consent includes using condoms and sex dams. Always respect someone’s decision to use protection.
Remember, CONSENT = RESPECT
Ignorance is not an excuse when it comes to consent and sexual assault. It is everyone’s responsibility to get consent and to respect each other. Choosing to ignore someone’s decision not to have sex is sexual assault. Having “sex” with someone who doesn’t want to is not sex, it’s sexual assault.
It is always okay to say no to sex or to leave a situation that makes you feel uncomfortable. If someone has touched you without consent, follow this link for information and support.