Consensual sex is a voluntary agreement between all parties involved. When it comes to sex, consent is when one person asks to initiate sexual activity, and the other person(s) responds with a voluntary, conscious, and active, “Yes.”
Voluntary means: you are not being threatened or coerced into the sexual activity. No one is physically forcing you, threatening, or humiliating you into having sex.
Some examples of threat and coercion are:
“You can’t just flirt with me all night and not have sex with me, that isn’t fair.” “Everyone else is doing it, I know you want to do it too.” “I’ll show everyone that picture you showed me last month if you don’t _______.”
Conscious means: you are aware of the sexual act and understand what you’re agreeing to. Consumption of alcohol and/or other drugs impairs one’s ability to establish consent. If someone is unconscious (e.g., sleeping or passed out), they are not aware and cannot give consent.
Active means: you are actively expressing and saying “yes.” Silence or passivity DOES NOT insinuate a “yes.”
Consent is a continuous process throughout sexual interactions. What does this mean?
You can change your mind at any time.
You can withdraw consent at any point if you feel uncomfortable or you just want to stop. It is important to clearly communicate with your partner you are no longer comfortable and wish to stop. Communication is important. Talk with your partner and see what sexual activities you both like and what might make you uncomfortable.
“Is this OK?” “Do you like it when I kiss you here or there?” “Do you want to try ______with me?”
Regardless of whether you are a college student, a high school student, or not in school at all, YES means YES still applies! Just remember, “YES” doesn’t mean forever. Either partner can change their mind at any time.
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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.