Consent culture has become a popular movement that is raising awareness about the importance of understanding, giving, and obtaining consent. The basic definition of consent is that it gives permission or agreement for something to happen. However, there is more to consent than just saying “no”. Here are some other aspects about consent to think about:
- Informed consent – you 100% know what you are getting into and there is an open and clear understanding between you and the other person of what is going to happen.
- Enthusiastic consent – if you are not excited to participate then check-in with yourself, do you really want to do this? Does the other person seem equally enthusiastic? If not, slow it down and check-in.
- Continuous consent – just because you say “yes” to one act, like kissing, does not mean you have agreed to other acts, consent is specific.
- Consent is freely given– you should never feel like you have to say “yes” out of guilt or fear.
In addition to different types of consent, it’s important to know that you can say no or change your mind at any time, to anyone. Consent involves clear communication about what each person is comfortable with and how each person’s boundaries can be respected. Consent is also a big part of healthy relationships. Unfortunately, in a study on consent, 11.7% of college students from 27 universities reported nonconsensual sexual contact.
A big part of creating and maintaining healthy relationships is communicating around consent to activities. It’s important to check-in with yourself when you’re in a situation where someone is asking you to give consent or do something you’re hesitant about. Ask yourself if you need a break to think about what you want to do.
If you have any doubts about participating in any activities with another person, give yourself time to think about it! You can always say, “I need to stop” or “I’m not feeling comfortable, can we slow it down?”. Check-in with the other person often, with open questions like “How are you feeling about this?” and if they seem less than enthusiastic, back up and take a break.