7 Things Everybody Should Know About Consent
Whether it's Trump bragging about grabbing women "by the p*ssy" or the fact that sexual assault is an epidemic on campuses across the country, it's obvious that the concept of consent isn't exactly clear for everyone. In response to this, AMAZE, a YouTube-based sex ed resource, launched the first-ever Consent Week, in order to bring attention to just how important the topic is, in all stages, of hooking up. When both partners know exactly what each other wants, and there's no confusion or hesitation, because consent has been given, it makes for better sex. And isn't that what we all want — better sex?
Consent Week is February 20 to 26, giving us six solid days to educate people (and ourselves!) about what consent really means. Just because a women consents to a hot makeout session, doesn't mean she's automatically consenting to having sex. It might seem like asking for consent can "ruin the mood," but on the contrary, that's simply not the case. What can ruin a mood is when someone is put in a position in which they're not comfortable because their consent hasn't been given — there's also another name such a situation: sexual assault.
"Learning about consent at a young age is essential not only to help prevent sexual assault and rape, but also to ensure that the sexual encounters young people have in the future are wanted and safe," Nicole Cushman, Executive Director at sex ed site, Answer, tells Bustle. "Early conversations about consent can help teens decide what they want and don't want in romantic relationships, learn the skills to communicate their boundaries, and help them to respect the boundaries of others."
During the week of February 20 to 26, there will be a few ways to get involved in Consent Week. On AMAZE's Twitter, you'll find a Twitter Town Hall on Thursday, February 23, at 5 p.m., with Ashley Fowler, a staff writer at Sex, Etc. You can also participate all week long by using the hashtag #IHeartConsent, while sharing why consent is important to you.
Still a little confused about what consent really is? Check out the video and these seven things to know.
1. Not Saying "No" Doesn't Imply Consent
As the video illustrates, using watching a horror movie as an example, just because someone doesn't say "no," it doesn't mean that consent is being given. Consent only comes in the form of one word and that word is "yes."
2. If There's No "Yes", Then There's No Consent
As the narrator in the video explains, "Sexual consent means that both people are actively willing to engage in a particular sexual behavior and express their consent by saying, ‘Yes, that’s OK with me.’”
Although we often think of consent in terms of a woman giving her consent, the reality is that men can also be the victims of sexual assault and their consent is just as important. No matter what gender you go to bed with, make sure you're both on the same page and have given each other 100 percent consent before getting anything started.
3. If Consent Is Given For One Sexual Act, It Doesn't Mean It Covers All Sexual Acts
Where things can get confusing, so I'm going to make this as clear as possible, just because someone consents to one thing, it doesn't mean they're consenting to anything and everything else.
If I'm in bed with a partner and have consented to everything we're doing up until a certain point, but he decides to try something else, he needs my consent first. Just because I'm naked and in bed with someone, fooling around, doesn't automatically mean that intercourse is a given. So no one in a similar situation should think intercourse is a given or that they're obligated to have intercourse. You can have a lot of consensual naked fun without penetration.
4. You Can Absolutely, Positively Change Your Mind
No matter how far you're into your hookup, if you decide you don't want to continue, you can change your mind. If your partner has a condom on and has already started to penetrate you, you can still change your mind and say no. And, if you do, your partner has to stop. There is no grey area; it's black and white: No means no. End of story.
And if you have a male partner who pulls some line about now he's going to have to deal with blue balls, get up and leave. No one worth your time is going to disrespect your right to say no.
5. If Someone Is Intoxicated, Even If They Say "Yes" It's Not Consent
Legally, if someone is under the influence, and their judgement is impaired in any way, they cannot give consent. Even if a woman says "yes," if she's drunk or stoned or in any other state where she's unable to make sound decisions for herself, that "yes" does NOT count. Again, this isn't up for debate. If someone takes advantage of an intoxicated person, that's sexual assault or rape.
6. Rape Is NEVER Your Fault
Whether you're with someone who ignores your "no" or you were taken advantage of while you were unable to legally give your consent because your judgment was chemically impaired, it's important to know that it's never your fault. There are no blurred lines when it comes to sexual assault and rape, and anyone who dares to tell you otherwise, has zero understanding of what consent really means.
7. Consent Is Something We Need To Instill In People At A Very Young Age
According to a 2015 study by the Center for Disease Control and Prevention’s National Center for Health Statistics, the average age at which most people lose their virginity is 17 years old. Since this figure is an average, that means that there are teens out there losing their virginity far younger than that. Because this is the case, it's so important that we teach what consent really means as young as possible.
Not having a clear understanding of what consent means can be so damaging. So, during this Consent Week, take some time to educate yourself and educate others.