Consent is an agreement between participants to engage in sexual activity. The law says a person consents if they agree by choice, and have the freedom and capacity to make that choice.
Consent is all about communication, and it should happen every time, regardless of whether it has happened before. Even in today’s information and digital age, there are still some debates about what counts as consent, and not everybody is as clued up as they think!
According to The Dialog’s 2018 Love And Sex Survey Results, 67% of women and 31% of men said they wait for the other person to make the first move.
About 44% of both genders say they ask if the other person wants to have sex, and 52% of men and women start making out but will stop if the other person says no.
74% of men and 54% of women say they pay attention to body language to gauge interest and about 25% of men and women say they “just go for it”.
Do you have to say “yes” to consent?
The report revealed that 49% of men and 60% of women say they need to hear a clear “yes” for sex to be consensual. One participant said: “I’m in a committed relationship and he still asks”.
Another said: “Quite often it seems that the first time I have sex with a partner it just starts happening by consent, no questions asked. The first question will be “do you like that?” “Can I take this off?”
Positive ways to show your consent are communication with phrases such as “Is this OK?”, explicitly agreeing or using affirmative statements such as “I’m open to trying this,” and using physical cues that show the other person you are comfortable.
There are many ways to give consent, and consent doesn’t have to be verbal, however verbally agreeing to different sexual activities can help both you and your partner to respect each other’s boundaries.
Need to say “no” or “stop” to not consent?
According to the survey, 45% of men and 50% of women said you don’t need to say “no” or “stop” to not be consenting.
Participants said: “Both ‘soft no’s’ and physical cues can also signal NO. That gives you an opportunity to ask again, “is this OK?” “Would you like to continue?” If the answer is anything other than YES! Back off. Stop. This isn’t the time.”
“Body language is just as important as verbal language and anyone can read into obvious non-verbal communication.”
According to the Rape Abuse and Incest National Network (RAINN) consent is not:
- Assuming that wearing certain clothes, flirting or kissing is an invitation for anything more
- Someone being under the legal age of consent, as defined by the law
- Someone being incapacitated because of drugs or alcohol
- Pressuring someone into sexual activity by using fear or intimidation
- Assuming you have permission to engage in a sexual act because you’ve done it in the past
The law recognises that a person might not have sufficient capacity because of their age or because of a mental disorder. The amount someone has had to drink or the drugs they have can also affect their ability to consent.
When questioned whether you can consent intoxicated, according to the women in the report, 76% said no, 19% maybe, and 6% yes. Amongst the male participants answered, 63% answered no, 24% maybe, and 13% yes.
50% of people said they themselves have had consensual sex after using drugs and alcohol.
Can someone withdraw consent at any time?
You can withdraw consent at any point if you feel uncomfortable, but when asked about this there was still some disparity. 82% of men and 94% of women said yes, 5% of men and 2% of women said no, and 13% of men and 4% of women said maybe.
One participant explained: “You may say yes to something but then decide you don’t like it or you’re not in the mood or hell you just changed your mind. It doesn’t matter it’s your body and you get to decide what to do with it.”