Consent: Find Out What It Means For You
It might be that, at this time of your life, you’re starting to understand or begin to grapple with, your sexuality, its place in relationships, as well as how it fits into your life in general. However, if you’re starting to seriously think about sex, then you have to think about consent, as well. It is a key to any healthy future sexual relationship you may want.
Understanding what consent is
Consent is, basically, you agreeing with and giving permission to something that is happening or going to happen. In this case, it’s typically about romantic and sexual contact. This includes not just any form of sexual contact (such as vaginal, oral, and the like), but kissing and sexually touching the body. Your right to consent also applies to sending any sexually explicit messages or images. Consent can be freely given (providing the person is able to freely give) and taken away at any point. So even if you feel comfortable with some forms of sexual contact, it’s entirely your right to withdraw your consent if things move in a way that you’re not comfortable with.
Consent and relationships
A lot of young women feel pressure to consent to sexual activity when they get into a relationship. Of course, there are plenty who are happy as well, but consent has to be active and enthusiastic on both sides. You need to also be mindful of the age of consent where you live, as well. In the case that you’re not old enough to legally provide consent, it could result in legal trouble if you engage in sexual activity that would require it.
If your consent is violated
If you feel like your boundaries were crossed at some point, be it with a partner or with someone else, then your consent might have been violated. Consent cannot be given by those who are unconscious, unable to think rationally (due to being under the influence, for instance), or do not understand what kind of activity they might be agreeing to. It’s important to know that even if you never verbally said “no,” or withdrew consent, that doesn’t mean you consented, either. If this has happened to you, it’s important, first and foremost, not to blame yourself. Finding someone to talk to about it, be it a trusted adult or finding support for survivors of domestic and sexual violence, can help you work out your next steps. It is possible to take legal action but you might want to talk it over with someone who can listen and understand, first.
Talking about consent
Although the concept of consent is simple enough, how it plays in real life can sometimes feel messy and complicated. Finding people to talk to about it can help you understand consent in different situations better. Talking to your parents about sex and relationships isn’t always easy, but establishing a relationship where you can have those talks can really help you straighten some of those thoughts out in your head.
Consent is king. Your right to determine what does and doesn’t happen with your body is something you should always be ready to stand up for. Hopefully the points above help you feel more comfortable about talking about it.