Most of us know what it means to ask for consent and why it's necessary, but fewer of us actually do it. That's often because we just don't know how to ask without making things awkward. BuzzFeed's "How Do You Ask For Consent?" video demonstrates this gap between what we practice and preach and offers some concrete suggestions for getting consent, because heaven knows many of us could use some help.
First, BuzzFeed's interviewer asked a number of men and women on the street whether or not consent is important. They were all pretty much in agreement that it is. "Otherwise, you're taking advantage of someone and doing stuff to them that they don't want," one guy said. Sounds reasonable, right?
But then, when the interviewer asked how the interviewees got consent, things got a little fuzzier, with many silent stares and uncertain answers like, "It depends on the situation" and "I do not know." One woman said, "I've never been in that situation, honestly, to ask" — implying that consent is only needed in a few select situations. (It's always needed.) Even the man who said consent was important so you don't take advantage of someone responded, "That's a tricky one because I reckon it can be implied as well." When asked if requesting consent verbally is important, he responded, "I think it's important, but I don't think anyone would do it."
A few, however, did have good responses. Here are some suggestions on how to ask for consent based on their answers and some other sources. Scroll down the watch the full video for more.
1. "Can I Touch You?"
"Touch you" can obviously be replaced with anything else. Literally anything. Because there's never anything wrong with asking if you can do something to someone else. (Unless you're a woman in a work meeting asking, “I’m sorry, Mikhail, if I could? Didn’t mean to cut you off there." Women should not need permission to participate in a conversation.)
2. "Are You Comfortable?"
This is a great way to check in if you're unsure of whether someone still wants to do what you're doing, though if you're not sure if they'd be comfortable starting in the first place, you have to ask them beforehand.
3. "Can I Touch Your Weiner?"
Hey, whatever works. People have all sorts of names for their genitalia. No matter what you call it, the important thing is that you don't touch it without their express go-ahead.
4. "Are You Enjoying Yourself?"
If the idea of mentioning any body part or sexual act makes you squirm, here's a nondescript but sure way to ensure someone's happy with what's going on. Sex vlogger Laci Green offers this and many other great suggestions in the video above.
5. "How Far Do You Want To Go?"
This question, also courtesy of Laci Green, is an effective way to make sure you know beforehand what somebody wants to engage in. It's still a good idea to check in throughout the encounter (because people are allowed to change their minds at any point), but at least you'll get an idea of what they are and aren't comfortable with.
6. "You Good?"
This was the favorite among high school students during a sex-ed lesson reported byThe New York Times. But ultimately, it doesn't really matter which question you pick. Use whichever line makes you most comfortable. The important thing is that you say something to make sure everyone's happy with the situation.
Watch BuzzFeed's video below to learn more about consent and how to ask for it: