Consent is an active "yes", not just the absence of "no"
Good sex is safe with mutual respect and desire. Affirmative consent means enthusiastic and voluntary agreement to engage in sexual activity. It is the responsibility of each person involved in the sexual activity to ensure that he or she has the enthusiastic consent of their partner.
So, instead of the emphasis being on someone saying no, we should be getting people to agree enthusiastically to sex in the first place. Whenever you have sex, make sure that the other person is just as enthusiastic about having sex as you are. It's important that you are 100% sure that the person you're with is happy and willing because non-consensual sexual activity (even kissing and touching) is sexual assault.
Giving / Withdrawing Consent:
Consent can be given by words or actions, as long as those words and actions create clear permission regarding willingness to engage in the sexual activity.
You can withdraw your consent at any time. Just because you said yes to one thing doesn’t mean you have consented to anything else.
Genuinely desiring sex is different to feeling like you should have sex. Are you enjoying what has happened so far, and do you want to go further? If unsure, let your partner know.
Checking for Consent:
Every time you do anything sexual, ranging from touching and kissing, to having sex, you must always have the other person’s consent, from beginning to end.
Silence, lack of protest or resistance does not mean consent.
Consent cannot be given when a person is incapacitated. Depending on the degree of intoxication, someone who is under the influence may be incapacitated and therefore unable to consent.
Consent cannot be given when it is the result of any coercion, intimidation, force, or with the threat of harm.
There are many ways to give verbal and non-verbal ways to consent. Make sure you are communicating these to your partner and that you are checking in that your partner is expressing these too. The more signs that your partner is giving, the better. Try to get and give a mixture of and as many as possible from the following lists -
Consent can be verbal. This is the clearest and
safest form of consent. Examples may include:
“Is this okay?”
“I’d like to… / Can I?”
“That sounds great”
“That feels awesome”
“Let’s do that more”
“It feels good when you...”
“I want to keep doing this”
“I’m enjoying this
Consent can also be non-verbal (It is ideal though to get a mix of verbal and non-verbal cues). Examples may include:
Pulling someone closer
Making direct eye contact
Initiating sexual activity
Video on Affirmative Consent made by La Trobe University students:
Both partners should pay attention to whether they’re feeling enthusiastic about the sexual experience they’re having and if their partner is still into it.
Show up and pay attention to your partner; listen to what they’re telling you; and if you can’t tell, you have to ask. Silence does not equal Consent, make sure to check in.
Remember; Sex should be free from pressure and full of pleasure!
Examples of what Affirmative Consent looks like, written by La Trobe students:
“One day I met up with someone I was seeing regularly, and we were fooling around. However, after a while I got tired and the mood died down. I said to them I was feeling tired and immediately they stopped and asked if I was happy to continue or if I wanted to stop. It felt so nice for someone to actually ask me this, rather than me having to convince them. When I said I’d rather not continue, they didn’t pressure me to do anything else, and instead we just chilled out together and kept to hugging and small kisses.”
“I wasn’t sure if they were that keen anymore. They weren’t really reciprocating my moves, but rather than assuming that they wanted to continue, I decided to stop. Once we had stopped they relaxed and seemed happier.”
“The first time we had sex, we made sure we were both as enthusiastic as each other. This meant asking if the other was okay with being touched in certain places, and paying attention to body language carefully.”
“We hugged and then she asked me if she could kiss me. It was so sexy to be asked, it added to the whole experience.”
“He touched my leg and asked me if it was okay. I nodded yes and smiled at him. I couldn’t find the words but I wanted to show him it felt good.”
“I was so tired, I could barely keep my eyes open. My partner pulled me towards her but I just pushed her away gently. She didn’t pressure me anymore and we slept. I felt better the next day as I didn’t regret anything.”
“We have such a good relationship. Before I’ve felt like I needed to have sex to please him but now it only happens when we are both in the mood. It’s much more fun!”
“Saying I’m not ready and having her respect that made us closer as a couple.”
“When we first started to hook up, he would always ask me “Can I ..?” before touching me and it honestly made me so hot. I felt like we were really in it together instead of being with someone who just wanted to have sex with my body, they wanted to have sex with ME.”
If you or someone you know has experienced sexual assault and would like support you can call:
CASA (Centre Against Sexual Assault) 03 9635 3610
After Hours Counselling Line: 1300 687 327
Counselling at Latrobe: 03 9479 2956
Speak Up: 03 9479 8988
Health and Wellbeing Coordinator (Mandy): 0417 230 136