Consent is an essential part of healthy sexual communication. Consent is an active agreement by all participants to engage in a mutually acceptable activity. Please see Charlotte’s policy on consent here.
Every participant has the desire to engage in the activity.
Every participant has present knowledge of the situation, and is fully aware and informed of the situation without the presence of deception or lies.
Consent must be every step of the way! Ongoing consent means that each person is actively consenting to every act. Every participant has the autonomy to stop engaging in an activity if they no longer want to participate. Engaging in one act is not consent to engage in another act, you must check in with your partner!
Every participant has agreed to the activity of their own free will, without feeling pressured or manipulated.
Show your partner that you respect them enough to ask about their sexual needs and desires. Consent doesn’t have to be awkward, and can even be a pleasurable part of sexual activity. If you are not accustomed to communicating with your partner about sex and sexual activity, the first few times may feel awkward, but keep practicing. The more times you have these conversations with your partner, the more comfortable you will become communicating about sex and sexual activity.
You must get consent before you act. It’s the responsibility of everyone involved to get consent, especially the individual who is initiating the activity. If you are unsure if consent has been given, check in with your partner(s), and always check in throughout. Giving consent ahead of time does not waive a person’s right to change their mind or say no later.
Consent isn’t just about a yes or no answer, but also understanding what your partner is feeling. Pay attention to your partners verbal and nonverbal cues, such as their responses and body language. Remember the absence of a no does not equal yes. Ask open-ended questions, and listen to and respect your partner’s response. Consent can be a sexy and pleasurable part of a sexual experience. Integrating phrases like “I’d really like to . . . how does that sound?” “How does this feel?” “What would you like to do?” are great ways to ask for consent, and set the mood.
Coercion is unwanted activity that happens when someone is pressured, tricked, threatened, or manipulated into engaging in that activity. Coercion is not consent. Remember consent MUST be freely given.
- Continually asking someone to engage in an activity over and over until they say yes.
- Coercing someone by guilting or pressuring them into saying yes.
- Threatening someone to engage in an activity by giving consequences if they don’t.
- Using your position of power to obtain consent.
- Manipulating someone into saying yes through lies.
Remember that consent is an important and positive part of sexual activity. Always check in with your partner, and have open conversations about each other's wants and needs. Discuss each other's boundaries, and respect them. Ensure that all elements of consent are present when obtaining consent! If you are ever unsure if you have consent, assume you don’t and check in with your partner(s).