What is consent?

This website is named ConsentEd for good reason!  Consent is the foundation of sex and the element that is missing in sexual violence.  Consent is truly a simple concept to understand, but first let’s identify what consent isn’t. You’ve probably heard the phrase “no means no.” This is true, but this expression is not adequate because there are many other ways to communicate no.  Freezing up, saying you’re tired, crying, or pulling away are a few examples of ways to communicate no. A person doesn’t have to yell no, scream, kick, or bite for it to be exceedingly clear that they don’t want to engage in sexual activity.

What consent really means is a voluntary agreement to engage in sexual activity. In other words, it means communicating yes on your own terms.image8

Even Canadian law has an affirmative standard for consent. This means a voluntary, enthusiastic “yes-I-really-want-to-and-thank-you-for-asking” type of consent – not a consent that’s implied on the basis of silence, previous sexual history, or what the person is wearing.

Consent doesn’t need to be difficult or complicated!  We all can naturally tell when someone is consenting or not- it’s just a question of respecting their choice.  If there’s any uncertainty at all, just ask. For example, it could be as easy as five simple words: “Do you really want to?”