If you think you're going to have sex with someone other than yourself, there are a few key things you'll definitely want to have. Three things in particular should be non-negotiable on your mental checklist:
- A place to do it.
- Protection from pregnancy and/or STDs
(e.g., condoms, dental dams, or other latex).
- A partner who is actively choosing to be sexual with you .
These things (especially the third one) may seem obvious to you, but bear with us. The thing is, consent is not just about manners and decency; it's actually the law. Legally, you need a partner who is voluntarily, actively, clearly giving his/her consent prior to sexual activity. That means they have to be awake, lucid and able to communicate what they want or don't want. This is true even if you've been dating for a long time, even if you are committed.
A person who is too drunk, asleep or otherwise too out of it to be sure about what's going on can't legally meet the criteria for consent. Nor can someone who feels threatened or is afraid that if they say no something worse will happen.
Every person, no matter what the circumstances, has the right to withhold consent for sexual activity at any time . That means that if you don't have active consent from the person you're with, guess what? You risk committing a sexual assault, maybe without even realizing it. That's all there is to it. So it's crucial to be sure.
How Do I Know if There's Consent?
The only way to be positive your partner is consenting is to check in with them along the way, listen to their responses, and act accordingly. In other words, ASK! And ask again if you're not sure. Really respect their wishes. And good sex, sex you won't regret later, is all about respect.
Basic guidelines about consent:
- If the other person says no, take no as the answer no matter how badly you want to have sex. Even if you think s/he is saying one thing but really means another, or you thought s/he was giving you the green light earlier.
- If the other person says nothing, take that as a no too, and don't go any further unless s/he says it's okay. Silence can easily mean something other than "yes," and bad judgments in this area are no excuse.
- Never guess at consent. It's not worth guessing about, for either of you. Even if you're not used to talking about sex, or asking if it's okay, or being asked. Even if it seems like everyone else is hooking up and no one is checking in along the way.
From: http://www.whynotask.org. Produced by the Colorado Coalition Against Sexual Assault.
For more information e-mail Hotline@vsdvalliance.org. E-mail is not a secure form of communication. To ensure confidentiality please call the Family Violence & Sexual Assault Hotline at 800.838.8238 (V/TTY).