Consent is essential for all kinds of sex: sex with your hands, sex with your mouth, sex with toys, plus all those acts that may lead to sex like cuddling, sexting or making out.
CHANGE YOUR MIND AS MUCH AS YOU WANT
Consent is active, so if you change your mind at any point, no worries. You can stop giving consent or withdraw consent at any time. Everyone has the right to decide if they’re just not feeling it anymore.
NEVER STOP ASKING
Hooked up with a person in the past? That doesn’t mean you’ve automatically got consent right now or in the future. Consent is a decision every time – it can never be assumed to exist just because you’ve done it before. Ask again!
WHAT CONSENT IS NOT
Implied (e.g. based on relationship status)
Given through silence and inaction
The absence of ‘no’
Given by someone who is too drunk or high
Given by someone who is asleep or unconscious
Obtained through ultimatums, coercion or pressure, even if it’s subtle
Obtained if the initiator is in a position of trust, power or has authority over the person (such as a prof, boss or leader)
FOR ALL SEXUAL RELATIONSHIPS
Consent is required no matter what your relationship looks like. Whether you’re getting hot and heavy on a one night stand, having some casual romance or are in a committed, long-term relationship, consent needs to be there, for all people involved.
COMMUNICATION & DESIRE ARE KEY!
So you get ‘the okay’ to touch them here, but that doesn’t necessarily mean you have the okay to touch them there. We should ask and ask again, especially when trying new things. Checking in to make sure your sexual partner is enjoying themselves not only keeps everyone comfortable but it’s incredibly sexy! It means your sexual partner knows you respect them and it lets you know that things are going well.
A PRESSURED 'YES' IS A 'NO'
Pressuring someone into sex is coercion, not consent. We automatically imagine coercion as being rough and forceful, but it can be as simple as nagging or making your partner feel guilty about not wanting to have sex or try something new like texting naked pics. A lot of times, people think sexual pressure is okay because it’s not like you’re physically forcing someone into anything, and often times sexual pressure is assumed to be "seductive" or "playful"...it's not... Bottom line, pressuring someone is coercion. You should never have to talk your sexual partner into doing anything they don’t want to do.
POWER MAKES THINGS COMPLICATED
Power imbalances can happen even when it isn't obvious (like a prof and student). Some groups hold more privilege (white, cis, hetero, upper class, male etc.) than others.
Sometimes people don't feel secure enough to say "no" when people with more (social) power than them initiate.
Not everyone has the chance or capacity to express what they want. Their concerns for safety and security are real and valid.
Shout out to LSPIRG for helping us articulate this complicated aspect of consent, you can check out their whole consent campaign here.