When it comes to consent, as you may have heard, “yes means yes” - but what does that really mean?
California law says that someone must say yes with their own free will. That means that they must be acting freely and voluntarily and fully understand what’s happening and the act involved. Someone under the influence of drugs or alcohol is not able to give consent. Put another way, to give full consent, someone has to be sober.
You also should actively ask for consent at every step and each time you hook up with someone. People have the right to change their mind and not give consent or take back the consent they have given at any time. Consenting to kissing does not mean that someone has consented to taking cloths off. Just because someone has consented to having sex before, does not mean they automatically consent to having sex now.
Tips for asking for asking for consent
There are a lot of ways to work consent into the moment. Ask questions along the way like “should I keep going?”, “how does this feel?” or “what would you like me to do next?”
You can also say what you would like to happen and allow your partner to respond. For example, “I would like to kiss you now. Is that ok with you?”
Come up with some ideas for how to ask for consent that work for you and practice them beforehand!
Consent is more than words
No matter what your partner is saying, think about how they are saying it. An enthusiastic yes might mean an excited tone of voice, positive body language, or initiating the next step. If someone is saying yes but they seem hesitant or unsure, it might be time to slow down. Someone should be saying yes with their voice, tone, and body language. When in doubt, slow down, double check, or stop. Your partner should appreciate you taking their feelings into account, go slowly and respect their boundaries. If your partner is under the influence of drugs or alcohol or for some reason might feel coerced, that is definitely a sign to slow down or stop.
What happens if someone does not consent?
If someone does not actively consent, you should stop. Continuing without consent can be considered rape or sexual assault.
If you or someone you know has experienced sexual assault, find help near you.
Share this blog with your friends. Ask them how they ask for consent. Share your ideas with us on social media! Together we can make consent fun, sexy, and normalized as something we just do as teens and into adulthood!
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This blog was reposted from TeenSource.org, a project of Essential Access Health. TeenSource.org is an online hub for comprehensive and teen-friendly information on birth control, STDs, relationships and teen’s rights to accessing sensitive services. The site features youth-developed blogs and videos, a clinic finder, a Condom Access Project and links to TeenSource social media where youth can stay updated on relevant sexual and reproductive health information and news.