Everything you need to know about consent

[Laura Noakes | Deputy Editor]

Sex is pretty sexy, right? But you know what’s more sexy? Consent.

Consent is and should be the basis of all sexual experiences so I have compiled everything you need to know about consent into one handy article.

What is consent?

Consent can be a pretty tricky concept. Sure, we’ve all heard the slogan ‘no means no’, but is that really what consent is?

Legally, consent is defined as ‘agreeing by choice’ and having the ‘freedom’ and ‘capacity’ to make that choice. In laymans terms, consent is making sure that the other person wants to engage in sexual activity and their capacity to make that choice isn’t impaired. Capacity can be impaired by all sorts of things; drink, drugs, violence, threat of violence, being asleep! Freedom and agreeing by choice are pretty self-explanatory – a person has to have the choice, it cannot be coerced, or manipulated in any way and they have to freely make that choice.

SIDE NOTE: You can withdraw consent at any time; and as soon as you do the sexual activity has got to stop.

EXTRA SIDE NOTE: Just because you have sex with someone one time, does not mean you consent to have sex with them forever more; you are not under any obligation.

Why is consent so important?

Well, firstly, consent is pretty darn important because without it, it’s assault.

Simply put, if the other person doesn’t want to have sex, DON’T HAVE SEX WITH THEM! And although the popular image of a sexual assault is a stranger in a dark alley, that is far from the case. Coercion, shaming somebody for not wanting to have sex and manipulating someone into having sex is wrong, and against the law.

Secondly, why on earth would you want to have sex with someone who isn’t into it?

How do you know the other person consents?

One word people: COMMUNICATION. Asking simple questions like ‘is this okay?’, ‘do you like it if I do this?’ can be so helpful in determining the other person’s state of mind. As well as verbal cues, take note of how a person is acting; are they overly nervous? Maybe it’s time to slow it down a notch.

The most basic and best thing to do if you are uncertain in any way is to ask, and if they express any reservations, stop immediately.

When can a person not consent?

Anybody under the age of consent (that’s 16) cannot consent to sex; in the eyes of the law they do not have legal capacity. Equally, if someone is so drunk they can’t walk straight, they’re probably too drunk to have capacity. Obviously, the law cannot legislate against all drunken sexual activity, but if you have any worries that a person is so wasted that may not be giving their full consent, don’t have sex with them.

So, in summary; consent is a must. It must be meaningful and clearly communicated, unambiguous and the person giving it must have capacity. Have a tonne of fun in your sex life, but always make sure that consent is a priority.  

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Everything you need to know about consent