Sexual consent is an important topic that everyone has to be aware of. However, one of the questions that are often overlooked is how you should go about asking for and providing clear sexual consent. This does not only have to do with sexual intercourse that includes penetrative sex but also oral sex, any other type of sexual act, kissing and touching, etc.
Here’s some advice regarding obtaining consent.
Avoid Partners Who Are Vulnerable
Sexual activity without consent is sexual assault. That’s why you need to avoid those that are vulnerable. Either they are intoxicated by drugs or alcohol, unconscious, asleep, under the legal age, or do not have the physical and/or mental capacity to consent. You should not engage with them in sexual acts since they are unable to give informed consent.
Having a sexual encounter with them is sexual abuse and at times, statutory rape regardless of how “eager” they may come across. They could feel pressured into saying “yes” and deeply regret it the next day. This would be taking advantage of them, which is terrible.
Establish Reciprocal Interest Before Anything
Flirting is an essential part when it comes to getting to know your partner before sex, as well as figuring out what your partner would want to do. It is mostly about body language. Is there eye contact? Are they smiling? Leaning in?
Plus, flirting, reading their body language, and talking to them can tell you if your intentions are in line with theirs. If they are looking for a relationship, and you are looking for a one-night stand, you have to make sure they are completely okay with a casual hookup.
Negotiate Consent Verbally
An important part of sexual activities is to talk about consent. It’s better when it is verbal and direct. However, if they say “yes” to one thing, that does not mean it is a yes to all.
This may come across as a “mood killer,” but it is better than coming across as sexual violence or forcing yourself on them. Another way to go about asking for consent is to leave it to them to initiate things. Also, you can tell them something that you want to do to them. However, make it clear and detailed before you two (or more) start anything. With every suggestion, wait for their reaction, verbal or/and nonverbal, and then decide if you want to go through with it. When in doubt, do not.
Establish ‘Blanket Consent’ Ahead of Time
Blanket consent is mostly for those that are more experienced in sex. You can start with getting permission for some individual sexual acts, and afterward, if you want, you can talk to your partner about blanket consent. It is an agreement not to have to ask for permission for every act, but instead, if they do not want you to do something, they have to say “no,” and you have to respect it and stop. Another important thing is that they can change their mind and not want to do what you have established.
Negotiate Consent Nonverbally
Verbal consent is easier to get and more direct a lot of the time. That is because a lot of people are not good at reading or displaying body language. However, there can be situations where nonverbal consent can be read. But it would require a lot of experience, perception, and being careful. You can start slowly with a light touch and read their reaction.
If they are uncomfortable, do not go further. If they respond positively, e.g., by touching your hand or smiling non-awkwardly, then you can go further. However, you would have to be a master at reading body language because an awkward smile can be confused for a genuine one. In this case, it would be best to ask them.
Encourage Your Partner to Say ‘No’ (as well as ‘Yes’) at Any Point
A healthy sexual relationship is one where you can both say “no” at any point. It is essential to make sure they know this. It needs to be clear that they have the power to say “no,” “stop,” “slow down,” and that you will do as they say. You want them to feel comfortable and safe with you as much as you do with them. Therefore, make it clear that if they feel even slightly uncomfortable or unsure while engaging in sexual acts or even before, they can make you stop.
Here’s some advice concerning providing consent.
Share Your Intentions and Limitations
On the flip side of the coin is how you consent to sex. It is important to let your lover know your intentions and limitations. If you are looking for a relationship, tell them. If you are not willing to go far or fast, let them know. Make sure that you are on the same page. Be clear, blunt, and honest. It may spoil the mood, but you will be safe, so who cares.
Let Your Partner Know What Kind of Consent Works for You
It is a good idea to let them know how slow you want to take things. If you are inexperienced or with a new lover, you must be clear about it. Let them know that you want them to ask for consent for each individual act if this is something you feel comfortable with. If you want to use the blanket consent approach, you have to say “no” when you are uncomfortable. But make it clear to them and do say “no.” Establish all of this before anything physical starts.
Provide Continuous Positive Feedback
During sexual contact, you can guide them by saying “yes,” “that feels good,” etc. This is so that they know if what they are doing is working for you and that you are comfortable. Also, you can do it without talking by kissing them back, physically slowing them where you want to be touched, etc.
Learn How to Convey ‘No’ Effectively and Get Comfortable Doing It
This is an important aspect that you have to get comfortable with. It can be awkward or uncomfortable, but it is your first line of defense. Plus, the first time saying it is often the hardest; it should get easier from then. However, not doing anything is not a clear no. So you can say “no” gently or physically move away, push their hands away, etc. If they continue trying, you must give them a clear and forceful “no.”
Sex education covers a lot of sexual health topics, but many schools do not cover much when it comes to consent. A rule of thumb is if you feel uncomfortable, say “no,” and if you think your partner is uncomfortable, stop. Communication is key to a healthy sexual relationship.