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What Is Consent?

consent definition

  • Consent is a voluntary, sober, imaginative, enthusiastic, creative, wanted, informed, mutual, honest, and verbal agreement
  • Consent is an active agreement: Consent cannot be coerced
  • Consent is a process, which must be asked for every step of the way; if you want to move to the next level of sexual intimacy, just ask
  • Consent is never implied and cannot be assumed, even in the context of a relationship. Just because you are in a relationship does not mean that you have permission to have sex with your partner
  • A person who is intoxicated cannot legally give consent. If you're too drunk to make decisions and communicate with your partner, you're too drunk to consent
  • The absence of a "no" doesn't mean "yes"
  • Both people should be involved in the decision to have sex
  • Consent is an important part of healthy sexuality
  • Sex without consent is just wrong!!

Never assume. Ask before you proceed. A good partner is a good listener. A bad listener is at best a bad partner and at worst a rapist.1

Why Is Consent Necessary?

  • Communication, respect, and honesty make sex and relationships better
  • Asking for and obtaining consent shows that you have respect for both yourself and your partner
  • Positive views on sex and sexuality are empowering
  • Questions traditional views about gender and sexuality
  • Eliminates the entitlement that one partner feels over the other.
  • It is normal and healthy for each person to expect to be included in the consent process

Show your partner that you respect them enough to ask about their sexual needs and desires. If you are not accustomed to communicating with your partner about sex and sexual activity, the first few times may feel awkward. Practice makes perfect. Be creative and spontaneous. Don't give up.

The more times you have these conversations with your partner, the more comfortable you will become communicating about sex and sexual activity. Your partner may also find the situation awkward at first, but over time you will both be more secure in yourselves and your relationship. It's important to know and communicate your personal beliefs and values and respect your partner's personal beliefs and values.

*Adapted from the University of Georgia
1. Yisrael, D.S. (2005, June). Wimps, studs, virgins, and bad girls: How gender roles affect sexual health and everything else. Session conducted at the annual meeting of the American College Health Association, San Diego, CA