What is Consent?
One of the most common words one hears in discussions about healthy relationships is the word consent, but what does this word actually mean? Consent is an agreement between participants to engage in any sort of activity, especially ones of a sexual nature.
Consent is critical, in that it ensures no one is uncomfortable and no boundaries are overstepped. Good communication is the key to obtaining consent, and it is an important way to show respect for the other person you’re engaging with.
UNC-CH’s take on consent:
The university breaks down consent into the acronym ACE: 100% Affirmative, Communicated Clearly, Everytime. What does this mean? 100% Affirmative means consent should not be inferred from silence or lack of resistance. Just because someone isn’t fighting back or saying no, doesn’t mean you can assume consent. Also, just because your partner agreed to the act once doesn’t mean they agree to the same act again, make sure to get consent every time.
Consent can only be given in a clear state of mind, if someone is incapacitated, say through drugs or alcohol, they cannot give consent. Consent cannot be coerced or forced, it must be given by the person without any outside factors.
How do you Ask for Consent?
So understanding the importance of consent, how do you ask for it? Some people are worried that talking about consent will make things awkward, or that it’ll ruin the mood. This isn’t true. Asking for consent can take multiple forms, and it can even make things more fun. The easiest way to get consent is through verbal communication, asking things like:
Are you comfortable?
Is this okay?
Do you like it when I…?
Conesnt fosters a positive mood, making partners more comfortable with each other. But verbal communication doesn’t have to be so cut and dry or clinical, feel free to keep it informal or relaxed.
Consent is Important
Making the effort to get consent makes relationships better. Asking for and obtaining consent shows that you have respect for both yourself and your partner, and it makes it easier to be open about each partner’s likes and dislikes, as well as what they are comfortable with. Most importantly, consent helps make sure all relationships are safe and healthy, no matter if it’s a long time deal, or a one night hookup.