I have to admit: this was another scary one to write.
Consent is a really sensitive topic, and it causes a lot of problems.
It’s a topic that is really important to me personally, and I know that it’s important to others too.
I know a lot of people are going to be reading this extremely critically.
But that’s why it’s so important that I do put this put this out there.
Everyone talks about how important consent is, and how we need to “educate consent,” but no one talks about how to do so.
It’s really quite a problem.
Whether or not you think rape culture exists, consent is important when it comes to sex.
It is necessary to talk about it, and to teach every individual to ask for it, no matter what — before and during.
This is a fact that is generally pretty well-known.
But the confusion is how to gain consent, and how to know if you’ve gained it.
Sex educators have been improving how they teach this, at least from what I’ve seen, and that’s awesome! But it needs to happen at home, between friends, and within relationships.
So I’m going to try to show you how to teach consent in a way that isn’t just “get consent.”
Here we go — here are a few things to discuss when teaching consent.
1. Define consent.
I know it seems really basic, but it needs to be done.
According to the Merriam-Webster dictionary, consent means to give approval of something, to agree to do or allow something, and to give permission for something to happen or be done.
2. Stress that for consent to be present, someone needs to ask for it, verbally.
Consent has NOT been given if no one ever asks for it.
This goes for any relationship, whether it’s between people who have had sex before or not.
Point out that in order to give approval or permission, one needs to be asked for it.
And in order to agree to anything, one needs to presented with the idea.
When we’re talking about sex and consent, we’re talking about asking someone permission to do anything sexual to them, with them, or for them, and asking if they would like to do it with whomever is asking.
Tell them that major confusion can come from not verbally asking.
Movies make it look like leaning in for the kiss is the most romantic thing, or witty back-and-forth banter is the fun way to get to sex.
But that’s not realistic. That’s how confusion happens, because that’s assuming how the other person feels.
A resounding “yes” must be communicated, verbally, and that means a question needs to be asked. And it doesn’t need to be weird!
Here are a few examples of questions that ask for consent:
- “Can I kiss you?”
- “Do you want to have sex with me?”
- “Do you like this?”
- “Is this okay?”
- “Can I _____?”
- “Would you like ____?”
You can absolutely lean in for the kiss or enjoy a witty exchange, but before sex or a kiss or a touch or anything sexual happens, someone has to ask.
Ask them to notice that “Do you like this?” and “Is this okay?” are questions that would be asked while sexy times are happening.
For example, in the heat of the moment, your hand goes under their shirt. You can’t be sure they’re okay with this unless you ask if they like it, or if it’s okay. Trust me — if it is, they’ll tell you!
Another way to ask is to make a suggestion or statement, and let the other person say if they are comfortable with the idea.
- “I want to have sex with you.”
- “I really want to kiss you right now.”
If someone says “no,” it means they are not approving of something, they are not agreeing to do it or allow it, and they are not giving permission for it to happen or be done. And if someone says yes, it means that they are.
3. Point out that it’s important to make sure the other person is comfortable saying no.
Many people say yes because they are afraid of saying no.
While reading body language is very important — I’ll get into this in a bit — it’s also important to let the other person know that if they do say no, you will respect that and you are okay with it.
So point out that if they’ve asked for consent and the other person hesitates, they can comfort them by saying directly, “It’s okay if you’d rather not,” or something along those lines.
It will let them know that they won’t be in a scary situation and also shows that you respect how they feel. Super important!
4. Emphasize the importance of body language.
I can’t express enough how important this is.
Reading body language is not something everyone is good at, which is why this form of consent is so important to talk about.
If someone asks for consent, and gets a yes, everything should be smooth sailing, right?
Because, and this is very important: people can change their minds.
That’s why asking for consent during any sexual encounter is so important.
Even after consent has been given, everyone involved needs to pay attention to body language.
If someone is physically resisting (for example, pushing you away, closing their legs, trying not to move), hesitating (not excited, not paying attention to you, or looking away), it might be time to ask for consent again.
It’s really simple! Just check in.
Here are a few ways to ask throughout a sexual encounter:
- “Is everything okay?”
- “Would you like to do something else?”
- “Is this uncomfortable?”
- “Should I stop?”
- “Are you okay?”
- “Do you want to keep going?”
Sex, by nature, is vulnerable and intimate, so these are questions that the people involved should be absolutely comfortable asking — even if it’s a one-night stand.
In fact, this is even more important in a one-night stand, because that’s a situation where people don’t usually communicate with each other.
Being direct is the best way to deal with consent! (And asking what the other person likes is key to having better sex, too! *wink, wink*)
5. Stress the need to respect the other person’s answer.
Suggest that they shouldn’t want to change the other person’s mind — a no is a no, and that would be the same if the situation were reversed.
Let them know that in every single situation where someone changed their mind about giving consent, whether it’s allowing a child to see a movie or letting you borrow their earphones, someone is bound to be upset or hurt.
Rejection isn’t pleasant, and that’s understandable.
But sex involves two people, so consent goes both ways, and it happens from beginning to end.
If the other person changes their mind, it should be respected. Stay within their comfort zone — pushing boundaries in sex can be fun, but it shouldn’t be something only one person wants to do.
Remember: Sex should be fun, not scary.
Stick with what all parties are comfortable with, and it will be a much better time than if people are doing things they don’t want to!
- Define consent.
- Stress that consent needs to be asked for verbally, not assumed.
- Point out that they must let the other person know that it’s okay to say no.
- Emphasize the importance of body language & asking for consent throughout the experience.
- Stress the need to respect the other person’s answer & their choice to change their mind.
I hope this helps you not only teach others about consent, but also understand it better for yourself. Remember that everything starts with education, so always share and discuss to learn as much as you can!
How will you teach others about consent? What do you think is important?
You may also like:
This post is linked-up at: