Last time we talked about what consent is and looked at different kinds of consent. For this article, we will dive a little further in and look at specific ways to ask for consent in sexual and non-sexual situations.
Consent is an everyday undertaking that shows respect for personal and emotional boundaries. Asking a friend if they have the time and energy to listen to your stresses is a great way to ask for consent regarding their emotional boundaries, as they may be going through something stressful themselves and unable to help. Asking before sharing group photos online is another excellent way to respect someone’s privacy and ask for their consent to publish their image. Checking in with the people around you about their boundaries can be casual and as easy as “Hey, do you want to talk about it?” and respect their decision if they say no.
It extends to having boundaries around doing work during work hours (not answering work emails at home, etc.), respecting someone’s decision not to drink, or respecting their boundaries around the kind of media or activity being planned. You may LOVE scary movies or haunted houses, but those aren’t for everyone. You can never assume that any one person will feel a certain way about anything, be it an activity, media, or action. Asking and checking in is the best way to respect your friends and loved ones and build an equitable relationship.
When it comes to intimacy, checking in and asking starts from the get-go:
“Can I hold your hand?”
“I’d really like to kiss you if you’re into it.”
“I’d like to try ____, is that okay?”
“Do you like that”
“What do you want?”
“I’m into _____, what about you?”
“Do you want to slow down?”
All of the above are great ways to negotiate continuing, enthusiastic consent in an intimate setting. Sex without consent is assault, and a yes obtained through coercion, or the absence of a no is not consent. Handling a ‘no’ is hard, but respecting someone’s boundaries is an essential and critical part of building and maintaining respect and boundaries between people.
Remember that sex can be withdrawn at any time too. Oh Joy, Sex Toy (site NSFW) has an incredible comic overview of consent that is well worth the read and illustrates more ways to negotiate consent.
In two weeks, we’re gonna dig into some of the must-have items for any sexual encounter, including lube, condoms, and more!
Jayme D. Tucker is a journalist, writer, and performer settled on unceded Syilx territory. They're queer, tall, and tired of answering all the same token questions when they come out; So they're answering those questions and more for thehub.LGBT Kelowna. They've written for Daily Hive Calgary, won a scholarship for fiction writing with Eat North, and is the founder of The Queer Agenda, a non-profit social group focused on sober friendly, all-ages networking for LGBTQ2IA+ individuals (currently on COVID hiatus).