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  • Writer's pictureCassie

Breaking Down the Definition of Consent

On the surface this seems like an easy concept to grasp, however you will come to learn there is quite a bit of nuance around consent. This information is intended to help you navigate the waters of consent in regards to intimacy, both in terms of developing your own boundaries as well as respecting the boundaries of others.


Freely Given


What it is:

The person provides consent without feeling pressured in anyway to do so.


What is isn't:

The person provides consent because they feel pressured to so so, this could be due to social/interpersonal pressure (such as asking the person repeatedly, trying to guilt someone into saying yes, involvement of peers encouraging them, & so on), blackmail, threats, or power dynamics (such as a boss or authority figure asserting their position to gain consent).


Reversible


What is is:

The person provides consent throughout your time together and is able to revoke that consent at any point (i.e. consent to sex after dinner but are not feeling it when the time comes, their consent being removed is respected).


What it isn’t:

This should not be perceived as someone playing hard to get or being a ‘tease’, referring to the removal of consent in such ways diminishes the autonomy of the individual and their boundaries from moment to moment.


Enthusiastic


What it is:

The person is an active participant and is engaged with present activities. They are excited and open to engage in the activity.


What it isnt:

The person may or may not be verbally agreeing, but they seem to not be present in the moment. They don’t take on an active role in the activity. If you feel the need to ‘convince’ this person to participate, they are not enthusiastic about it.


Informed


What it is:

The person understands what they are agreeing to fully. 


What it isnt:

Consent is not informed if the person doesn’t understand what they are consenting to. If you are using vague language (i.e. not defining what you mean by “hookup”) or misleading statements (i.e. “this is what girlfriends do”), you aren't able to get informed consent from that person. If the person isnt in a clear headspace (i.e. intoxicated) they may not understand fully what they are agreeing to.


Specific


What it is:

The person consents to one activity and that is what you stick to; if someone wants to move on to a different activity, that is expressed and consented to by all parties.


What it isnt:

Consent for one activity does not mean consent for any activity (even if it seems closely related to you). the person agrees to one thing and because you have obtained consent earlier you assume that you can engage in a different activity without checking in. For example, a person consents to engaging in oral and the other decides they also agree to penetrative sex; or a person agrees to have a threesome but you decide to invite a fourth without asking if that's okay.



If this is the first time thinking about the intricacies of consent, it may bring on challenging emotions - this is common because consent is not always taught to us growing up and it can be uncomfortable to talk about.


It is important to consider these things going forward to ensure we are all aware of/respecting our own and others boundaries. It is up to us to continue building a culture of consent and respect.







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