How to Communicate if You're down or not
How to Communicate if You’re Down or Not
(either way is okay!)
Your Questions …
What does consent mean?
What is informed consent?
How do I know when someone has consented?
What does enthusiastic consent look like?
According to Merriam-Webster when consent is a noun it is defined as “compliance in or approval of what is done or proposed by another.” In its verb form, it is “to agree to do or allow something: to give permission for something to happen or be done.”
It sounds pretty straight forward, right?
As many of you know, it isn’t always so black and white. There is a lot that goes into a comprehensive understanding of what we like to call enthusiastic consent.
Consent must be given before the start of any sexual activity. This could be anything from kissing, touching, fondling to any kind of sex.
Informed consent means that all partners have equal knowledge about what is being consented to. Everyone involved should know of all of the potential risks, benefits and consequences.
Enthusiastic consent means that any and all partners that are engaging in the activity are excited and eager to participate in what you have discussed.
What does Consent Look Like?
Consent is clear. Something that is a resounding “yes” without a hint of hesitation. It is obvious and it doesn’t leave you questioning.
Consent is ongoing. It can be withdrawn at any time. Even if you are in the middle of sex and your partner(s) want to stop, that’s that! No coercion, no convincing, and no debate.
Consent is voluntary. It is given completely willingly and freely. No one is obligated to do anything they don’t want to do. That means everything from being in a relationship to having sex. You don’t owe anyone anything.
Consent is coherent. Everyone who is involved must be in a sober state of mind, awake and conscious to give their consent. Someone who is too impaired or intoxicated is not capable of giving consent.
Having successful communication means that you both (or all) employ active listening, acknowledge each other’s feelings and give solution-based ideas for whenever issues arise.
This also means that you hold yourself accountable for your actions and feelings in the relationship. If there’s a problem, you bring it up and you don’t receive feedback with hostility.
Being upfront and transparent about your intentions and desires is also critical for building successful communication systems between you and your partner(s). If one of you has a need, you talk about it to make sure it’s met. If you don’t want to do something or you’re unsure how you feel about it, you have to communicate with your partner(s).
Healthy and successful communication is the foundation for a healthy relationship and for understanding when enthusiastic consent is given, and when it is not.
How Do I know if I have Ongoing Consent?
Are you unsure if your partner wants to try/do something? You can ask questions like:
- Are you comfortable doing/trying this?
- Are you happy doing this?
- Is there anything that makes you uncomfortable?
- Do you want to stop?
- Are you enjoying this?
- Do you want to slow down?
- Do you want to go further?
Look for Non-Verbal Communication
Some people communicate differently, and it is up to you to read that communication. Try and read their facial and physical responses to what you’re doing. If you’re unsure, ask.
If they start pushing you away, holding their arms tightly around their bodies, their muscles stiffen or they hide their face, these are all cues that you should stop what you’re doing and check-in.
Slowing down is always an option too!
Consent is a two-way street, so everyone needs to be comfortable with everything they’re giving and everything they’re receiving.
If you or someone you know has any questions or wants to talk to someone about this, check out the links below. They’re all confidential, so you can feel safe sharing.
Keep it open, keep it a conversation, and treat everyone with the same respect you want and deserve.
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Get out there, get in there and get off there!
Elaine S. Turner
Sex Coach, Clinical Sexologist and Sexuality Educator
Consent - Teachers: Teaching Sexual Health. (n.d.). Retrieved August 16, 2020, from https://teachingsexualhealth.ca/teachers/sexual-health-education/information-by-topic/consent/
Consent. (n.d.). Retrieved August 16, 2020, from https://www.yesmeansyes.com/consent/
Lowitz, A. (2018, September). Project Consent - Project Educate Curriculum [PDF].
Merriam-Webster. (n.d.). Consent. In . Retrieved August 15, 2020, from https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/consent
Rradmin. (2017, January 19). Consent and Sex. Retrieved August 16, 2020, from https://www.fpnsw.org.au/health-information/consent-and-sex/consent-and-sex
Tatter, G. (2018, December 19). Consent at Every Age. Retrieved August 16, 2020, from https://www.gse.harvard.edu/news/uk/18/12/consent-every-age
Teach Consent. (n.d.). Retrieved August 16, 2020, from http://www.teachconsent.org/