What is consent and why is it important?
What is consent?
In simpler terms, consent is a clear cut yes to agreeing to a particular sexual act, at a particular time, knowing fully well what the act will involve. It’s your body and only you get to decide what happens to it. It is also the action of saying no.
Let us help you understand it with an example. Imagine you and your partner agreed to foreplay and then to having sex. During foreplay, your partner insists on having oral sex, which you’ve never done before. You’re not feeling like doing it but are afraid to say no because it might hurt their feelings. So, you go ahead. Is it giving consent? The answer is NO. This is NOT giving consent.
You agreed to foreplay which, when you agreed, didn’t include oral sex. You did it anyway simply because you didn’t want to turn off the mood or hurt feelings.
Did you explicitly say ‘yes’ or ‘no’? – No!
Thus by definition, it’s not giving consent.
You might wonder about the ways of expressing consent. Well, an explicit ‘yes’ is the only way. This means, a ‘maybe’ is NOT a ‘yes’. ‘Not receiving a no’ also doesn’t mean it is a ‘yes’. Also, your actions can be counted as a ‘yes’ only if you and your partner have a clear understanding of what the particular action means to you both. Only a YES, is a ‘yes’!
Some common misconceptions surrounding consent are:
- A ‘yes’ under the influence of alcohol or psychedelic drugs or any intoxicating drug is giving consent
- Showing interest is a signal of consent
- Giving a ‘yes’ under pressure or stress counts as giving consent
- Receiving a ‘yes’ from a minor (less than 18 years of age) falls under giving consent
- Receiving a ‘yes’ earlier means a ‘yes’ for future as well
- Receiving a ‘yes’ for a kiss or make-out means it is a ‘yes’ for further acts like sex
In case you’re still confused, the answer to all of the above pointers is a big NO!
Consent can also be withdrawn. Let’s go back to the example in the beginning. Imagine, you and your partner had discussed oral sex and wanted to go ahead with it. You go down on him and after a while, you don’t feel like continuing. You can withdraw your consent. Even during the act, at any point, if you don’t feel like continuing, you can withdraw and tell your partner to continue later. Consent is not a permanent statement that you are obliged to follow even if you’re not feeling like it.
Consent is crucial in a relationship or between two people who are involved in sexual acts. Here’s why:
Improves a relationship by improving communication: A relationship where both the partners have healthy communication is a relationship that has freed each other from any form of assumption. This way, neither of them would feel ashamed or embarrassed to ask what they want and also would know what the other wishes to enjoy in the bed. Now that’s a hot relationship! Moreover, a couple that communicates clearly also educates each other about sex, sexual acts, and sexual reproductive health.
Builds an emotional bond between partners: When you and your partner have an open and healthy rapport between yourselves and discuss freely about your likes and dislikes, it emotionally strengthens both of you. A relationship isn’t just about physical pleasure. It is also about having the emotional satisfaction in it. Thus, having a partner with whom there’s an emotional connect alongside the pleasures, Well, that’s couple goals for ages.
Sex without consent has legal consequences: Having sex without consent is basically rape as it amounts to one forcing oneself on the other without their agreement. Be it penetrative sex or non-penetrative sex. It doesn’t matter if you have known your partner for a long time, if you’re married, or if it’s just a one-off online date-turned-pleasure incident, without consent it all falls flat and fails big time. Basically, sex without consent is just WRONG!
Remember, to always ask for a ‘yes’ and to always give a ‘yes’ to whatever you or your partner are willing to do. Consent is required from a simple kiss to a night of passion. It’s better to be on the same page than be sorry afterward. Stay safe, play safe!
Until next time!