Consent is informed, freely given, mutual, and can be withdrawn at any time. If someone is incapacitated (so drunk that they don't know what is going on), asleep, or unconscious, you should not engage in sexual activities with them. Someone cannot give consent if force, duress, intimidation, threats, or deception are used. Silence or the absence of resistance is not consent.
How Do You Get Consent?
Consent is all about respecting your partner. Verbally asking your partner how they are feeling, what they want to do, and checking in with them is the best way to make sure you are on the same page. Remember, consent to one thing does not imply consent to everything. Make sure to keep communicating throughout a sexual encounter. Consent should be sexy! Here are just a few ways to ask for consent or check in.
- Do you want to have sex?
- How far do you want to go?
- Can I go down on you?
- Do you want me to help you unzip?
- Can I help you out of that?
- Do you want to make out?
- How do you want it?
- Is it okay if I touch you?
- What do you want me to do for you?
- How does that feel?
- Can we use protection?
- Can we try ___?
- Does ___ turn you on?
- What are you comfortable with?
- Is it okay if I take my ___ off?
- I like when you touch me here, can you do that?
- Do you like that?
It's All About Respect
Consent is all about respecting your partner's wants and needs. Respecting your partner means listening to them and not pressuring them into something they don't want to do.
- If someone says no, respect their no.
- If someone didn't verbally say no but their body language and demeanor indicate that they are not having a good time, pause and check-in with them.
- Talk to your partner about any birth control methods you would like to use and STI prevention generally (using barrier methods like condoms or talking about the last time you were tested).
- Set and respect safe words if you and partner agree to use them.
- Asking someone repeatedly to do something after they have said no or expressed disinterest until you get a yes is not consent, it's coercion.
Rolling with Rejection
Sometimes people are afraid to ask their partner questions because they fear rejection, but consent doesn't need to be scary! If you are open and honest with your partner about what you want and they enthusiastically agree, fantastic! If your partner isn't really into whatever you would like to do, just roll with it. If someone says "eh, not into that," or flat out "no!" here are some ways you can roll with it:
- "That's cool, is there something you want to do instead?"
- "I'm glad you said something, want to go back to doing ____"
- "I respect that, you want to watch a movie or something else?"
- Your partner will appreciate that you respect them.
Consent and Alcohol & Other Drugs
If someone is incapacitated (such as being so drunk or high that they don't know what is going on), asleep, or unconscious they cannot give their consent. It is your responsibility to make sure your partner(s) are able to give consent. You wouldn't want to do something with someone that they aren't really into.
So how do you know if someone is too incapacitated to give consent? Here are a few questions you can ask yourself:
- Are they too drunk/high to drive a car?
- Are they slurring their words or having trouble speaking?
- Are the stumbling or having trouble standing straight?
- Have they thrown up?
- Are they, or have they, passed out?
If you answer yes to any of these questions, that person is too incapacitated to give consent. In that case, just wait! If you feel like you have a connection with someone but they are incapacitated, call them the next day to meet up!
Even when consent is there, mixing alcohol and sex sometimes leads to not having a condom available, not using a condom, or not using one correctly.
- 28.8% of UC students reported having unprotected sex while drinking.
- 60% of sexually transmitted infections (STIs) were transmitted when one or more of the partners was drunk.
To learn more about STIs and Sexual Health, check out our Sexual Health page.
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