Asking for consent isn't 'sexy' or a 'trend' or 'awkward' or ANYTHING other than the bare minimum expectation when it comes to consensual sex. We need to erase the stigma around what it means to communicate with people about sex. Instead of thinking that communication takes the romance or spontaneity or 'heat' out of sex, think of it as what you need to do in order to show respect, care, and basic human common sense-which means more to most people.
I'm writing about this not to piss off people, jump on the band-wagon, or write another article about respect. I'm writing this because for some reason, no progress is being made, and too often I still hear people victim blaming, joking about consent, and people getting hurt. This basic guideline isn't composed of ideas made by me, but a collective bunch of ideas made by people in the world that have not been granted the respect they deserve. These 12 guidelines need to be discussed, used widely, and taken seriously so that no one is confused, on either end.
1. Obviously, no means no.Giphy
"No means no" is as basic as it gets when it comes to consent, yet we still have a problem with people not knowing what that means or just not wanting to believe it when they hear it. But, for anyone, if someone says 'no', you stop. Period. There's no "if, ands, or buts". There's no "I didn't hear you". There's no sex. Got it? I hope.
2. (Should be obvious too but) ask for an AFFIRMATIVE YESGiphy
If someone doesn't say "no", you don't get to assume that means "yes". When it comes to consensual sex, the real word you're looking for is YES more-so than NO. The definition of affirmative consent is: explicit, informed, and voluntary agreement to participate in a sexual act. By asking for a 'yes', you eliminate any room for ambiguity, confusion, and dangerous situations.
3. Clothing does not imply yes.Giphy
Too many times I hear someone say, "Well, if she wasn't wearing such a short skirt, dress, low-cut shirt, high-heels, etc. etc. etc, then she wouldn't have been harassed!" Please, someone tell me what the logic is in that. By victim blaming the person who chose what they wanted to wear because it's their body, business, and choice, you're saying that it's okay for someone to harass them sans consequences. By allowing people to get away with "boys being boys" or the notion that women wearing form-fitting clothing is a "distraction" to men and are "asking for it", you're allowing for harassment and I really hope you can see how wrong that is.
4. Going out does not imply yes.Giphy
Going out with your girls or any group of people does not put a sign over your head saying, "I'M GOING OUT FOR THE SOLE PURPOSE OF GOING HOME WITH SOMEONE SO PLEASE COME FIND ME." It's perfectly okay to go out with the intention of finding someone as well, but the difference is in the intention and not the assumed implication by someone else. Seeing someone at a party or club or on the street even doesn't give you the right to assume they want to have sex with you in any way. You still need to ask for consent. And no, assuming anything does not mean yes.
5. Talking to you does not imply yes.Giphy
Sorry to crush some peoples egos, but just because someone gives you some attention at a party, does not mean they're doing so with the intention of having sex with you. You can be talking to someone all night, but that does not mean you are allowed to think "OMG! She's talking to me. I'm getting laid tonight!" That may be the case, but what do you have to do first? Ask her. Obviously.
6. Going to 1st, 2nd, or 3rd "base" does not imply yes.Giphy
Using our (stupid but) favorite sexual analogy, if you're with someone and you're making out and it's getting intense to the point where you've gone through all the bases-I'm assuming you know what I'm talking about-that doesn't mean you get to hit a home-run if you didn't ask for it. Consent is not a game. You don't get to "score" if the other person doesn't want you to. Follow the rules, and ask first.
7. Silence does not imply permission.Giphy
I hope you all get my gif selection for this one.
Anyways, this should be so obvious yet somehow it isn't. If someone doesn't say 'no' or 'yes', that does not mean you get to go for it. This is especially the case when it comes to someone that is unconscious, unable to make decisions, or has impaired judgment, which should all be so OBVIOUS. Whether someone is coherent or incoherent, silence should never imply consent.
8. If at first someone says 'yes' then switch to 'no', you STOPGiphy
People are allowed to change their minds. People are allowed to say 'yes' then quickly or not quickly say 'no'. And what do you have to do if you were thinking you were getting lucky then someone "ruins it for you", you stop, get over it, and respect what the other person wants. You don't get to keep going if the other person doesn't want it anymore because guess what? That's not consensual anymore. It takes 2 to tango, at all times.
9. Saying 'yes' out of manipulation or pressure does not mean yes.Giphy
We've been taught at a young age to say no to peer pressure, yet this is still happening in worse ways than we could have imagined back then. People are often pushed into situations that they don't want to be in and want to say no, but say yes out of fear, manipulation, and pressure. Or they stay silent. None of which are good forms of affirmative sex. When asking for consent, don't ask so in a way that implies you're going to do it anyway, make them feel bad about not wanting it, or making them feel like it's not okay to say no. Because it is. Always.
10. Saying yes to "Do you want to come back to my place?" is not consenting to sexGiphy
I may be young, naive, and generally hoping for the best in everyone, but when someone asks me to come over or to go back to their place after a night of getting to know each other, I'm thinking something along the lines of continuing conversation, making some late night breakfast together, or watching a movie-and actually watching a movie. Too many times do I come across people as well as people I know that say yes to going to someone's place and already the other party assumes something that they shouldn't, something I don't want, or something they want and don't care if I don't want it. It's okay to go to someone with the intent on sleeping with them, but again, you need to communicate intention and both parties need to be aware of that intention.
11. You are allowed to say NO even when dating someone or having an established intimate relationshipGiphy
TOO MANY (backwards) PEOPLE BELIEVE THERE'S NO SUCH THING AS BEING SEXUALLY ABUSED WHEN YOU'RE IN AN ESTABLISHED RELATIONSHIP WITH SOMEONE, and that is just plain wrong. It doesn't matter if you've been seeing someone for days, months, or years. It doesn't matter if you're just a casual fling, dating, or married. If someone says 'no', they mean no. It doesn't matter where you are in your relationship, if someone doesn't want it, you don't get the right to take it.
12. Just have clear intentions.Giphy
Communication is key, so communicate. It isn't weird. It isn't corny. It isn't anything but what you NEED to do. Here are questions that need to be asked in order to properly gain consent and to generally be on the same page with your partner:
"May I kiss you?"
"Do you want to make out?"
"How far are you comfortable going?"
"Are you okay with me doing (blank)?"
"Is this okay? Are you okay?"
"Do you want to have sex with me?"