What Is Consent? Here’s A Layman’s Guide To The Concept

Relationships and consent,Consent cannot be implied ,What is Consent
What is consent? In simplest terms, consent means giving one’s permission for something to happen or coming to an agreement regarding any act. This simple, no-fuss definition becomes hard to grasp for many when it comes to sex. This is because some are too vile to care about violating one’s bodily autonomy whereas others try to find a ‘yes’ in cues, actions and behaviour which generally don’t indicate what the other person might want. The problem is that they prefer looking for a ‘yes’ than to hear it. In fact, denial of consent manifests not only as a ‘no’, but in others forms too.

Here’s a simple guide to tell you what consent looks or doesn’t look like:

Wearing certain clothes, kissing or flirting is not consent

One of the most appalling ways one tries to defend sexual offences is by blaming a girl’s attire at the time of the incident. This simply connotes that the survivor was at fault due to her clothes. It absolves the offender of any accountability. The society deems that clothes showing skin titillate men, who aren’t able to control themselves, because ‘men will be men’. It’s high time that people understood that even when a woman might turn up naked in front of you, you don’t have the right to sexually engage with her unless she explicitly tells you to.

Furthermore, flirting also doesn’t count as advances and invitation to engage in sexual activity. Neither does kissing. Consenting to one activity, at one time, does not mean that someone gives consent for other activities. Hence, agreeing to kiss someone doesn’t give that person permission to go beyond that.

Past consent is not consent

Many people have been abused by their ex-sexual partners as they assert their dominance on them; such people have a mindset that they have an incessant right over their exes’ bodies because they were sexually involved in the past.

Having sex with someone in the past doesn’t give that person permission to have sex with their ex-partner again in the future, unless the latter wants it too: What is consent

‘Maybe’, Silence is not consent

It is important to note that half-hearted, undecided and ambiguous responses do not count as consent. Saying ‘maybe’ or maintaining silence usually means that the person is not uncomfortable to engage in sexual activity, but might be not able to deny directly or doesn’t want to hurt the other person’s feelings. Hence, when a person is visibly upset or not eager about the advances, one should stop trying to convince the person for a ‘better’ response. 

Being drunk, intoxicated or unconsciousness is not consent

It is an obvious fact that a drunk or intoxicated person is not capable to consent to anything in their sane and rational mind. Same goes for an unconscious person who cannot consent to anything at all. 

Date rape is rampant, especially among youngsters and mostly has to do with sexual assault when the person was incapacitated to rationally consent to any activity due to the influence of alcohol or drugs or was in an state of unconsciousness.

Forced “yes” is not consent

Forcing someone to engage in sexual activity is called sexual coercion; when someone is pressured, tricked, threatened or forced through fear, intimation or other non-physical ways, that cannot be counted as consent, as it only counts when consent comes from free will.

Consent is about communication. It should always be taken every time before one plans to engage in any sort of sexual activity: What is consent

Sexual coercion is common at workplaces and also at educational institutions. Unequal power dynamics, like engaging in sexual activity with an employee or student, mostly mean that consent cannot be freely given.

Consent from minors is not consent

Consent, even an eager one, given by minors to an adult doesn’t count as consent because they are incapable of understanding the nature as well as consequences of their actions due to their immaturity in terms of age. 

sexuality education, what is consent

Consent has to be mutual and enthusiastic. Image Credit: Dr Gayle Friend

Child grooming is the sexual exploitation of minors, which is a big problem concerning the safety of children. Grooming of a child is a deliberate, predatory process where someone builds a relationship, trust and emotional connection with a child or young person in order to manipulate, exploit and abuse them, mostly in a sexual manner.

What is consent then?

Only a “yes”, a clear, conscious and enthusiastic “yes” from an adult individual counts as consent. Period.

Consent is about communication. It should always be taken every time before one plans to engage in any sort of sexual activity. Also, it is important to know that one can also withdrew their consent given before the activity. In fact, one should also stop a sexual activity when their sexual partner expresses uneasiness, either verbally or non-verbally. One of the most important aspects of sex is comfort. If it is absent for any one of them, the activity should be positively stopped.

Have you ever noticed why most of us love to take showers while bathing, but run for a shelter when it starts raining in order not to get drenched? Because we simply don’t want to. Getting wet in shower doesn’t necessarily mean that the person would like getting wet in rain. In fact, getting soaking wet in rain once in a blue moon, or even quite often, also doesn’t mean a person will always get wet when it rains. They would only do it when they consent to it. 

Then why is it so difficult for some to understand consent when it comes to sex?

Credits: Centerstone


Feature Image Credits: Girl Talk India

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