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September 17, 2018 | by  | in Features |
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Check On It

When it comes to sex, pretty much all of us have heard the word consent thrown around a lot in the last five years or so. But, due to inadequate and abstinence-focused NZ sex education (#eyeroll), all we may have picked up about it is that it’s a “thing” and that it’s probably important. But what actually is it? How does it work? And how do you practice it without totally ruining the mood?
For a lot of people, especially those who are new to sex or who had upbringings where sex wasn’t freely discussed, questions surrounding consent can be scary to ask – especially if it’s something your friends all think you should “just know”. The problem here is that if no one feels comfortable to have these conversations, and we’re not being given mandatory education about it, the messages about consent and how to practice it can easily get lost. And so, despite the best of intentions, people can fail to engage in healthy consent practices in sex – often simply because we don’t understand, and it all seems too confusing. So, to help us all out, I’m going to run you through the basic ins and outs of consent. And to help make it easy to make sense of and remember (and also because I’m a lowkey organisational nerd), I’ve arranged it into a handy acrostic:

C = Compulsory

This is a pretty basic one, right? And while I’m pretty sure we all know it, let’s go over it for the sake of being thorough.
ALL sex that you have with another person should be consensual. It’s not something you practice just because you don’t want to get accused of rape or you’re trying to impress some liberal hipster with how down you are to be PC. It’s just mandatory. Period. If you don’t practice it, it’s assault. Very simple. Or at the very least, you significantly risk it being assault. And you therefore risk causing all the destruction that comes with that – including potentially a huge amount of emotional pain to the person you should instead be trying to make feel oh so goooood. Which is thoroughly uncool. And definitely not sexy.

Every person deserves respect and consideration. And a big part of that is respecting people’s right to have autonomy over their own bodies. They get to decide what they do with it and what’s done to it. So yeah, bit full on there – but that’s just to hammer home how truly vital it is. If you don’t have consent, don’t have sex. No ifs, ands… and certainly no butts.

O = Ongoing

This is one that people often forget about.Consent is not a one-step tick-box procedure. Consent is an ongoing process which is practiced from the moment you start getting freaky until you’re completely done.
Every single stage should be checked up on. It’s not as simple as asking “are you okay with us having sex?” and getting a “yes” in response. It needs to be continuous, from initial questions like “are you okay with me touching you like this?” and “are you comfortable taking your clothes off?” to checking later on: “Is it okay if we have sex?” and “can we try this position I really like?”, all the way to more hardcore questions that might crop up later on down the line like: “Is it okay if I tie you up/scratch you/choke you/use a sex toy/blindfold…” you get the picture.
Importantly, this doesn’t just refer to penetrative sex, but any kind of sexual activity: dry humping,fingering, hand jobs, blow jobs… again, you get the picture. In other words, any time you step it up a notch, want to try something out, or do something different, you need to make like Destiny’s Child and “Check On It”.

N = Never Assumed

Consent should never just be assumed. There is no such thing as “implied consent”. Consent needs to be explicit – either a “Yes” (to whatever sex-related question you are asking) or an explicit statement: “I want to/I want you to…[insert desired super sexy thing here]”.
Just so we’re clear, here’s a quick run-down on what doesn’t count as consent:
• Being unconscious (I would hope this one’s pretty fucking obvious – and if it’s not: they quite clearly can’t say “yes” if they’re not awake. Like, duh)

• Being overly intoxicated (again, pretty fucking obvious – see previous point)
• Not saying “No” (this is not the same as saying “Yes” people! It’s more like a “no comment” – you can’t be sure what the hell their answer would be!)

• Being in a relationship with you (just because you’re together doesn’t mean they’re always DTF when you are)
• Having had sex with you before (just because they said “yes” before doesn’t mean they’re always going to be keen)

S = Sexy

Shocking I know, but consent can actually be pretty damn sexy. It doesn’t have to be some awkward clinical procedure. You don’t have to shake hands or sign a waiver. It’s all about how you do it. Yeah, sure it’s going to be awkward if you’re getting all hot and heavy and then suddenly put the breaks on completely, step back, and formally ask “do you [insert name here] fully consent to me having sexual intercourse with you?”
But that’s not the only way to go about it! You can keep doing what it is you’re doing at the time (kissing, touching etc.) and slip it in using a sexy voice or a bit of dirty talk – for example, you could say (putting on your sexy voice) “do you want me to go down on you?” (or whatever it is you want to do to your sexy hot person). And if all they do is nod or moan you can say things like (again, sexy voice here people) “I wanna hear you say yes” or “I wanna hear you ask for it” to make sure you get that clear, sexy, full-on “yes”.
Another way to go about it is to start by telling them what you want to do and then asking if they want to do it too. Believe it or not, but it’s actually really hot to hear how much someone is enjoying the sexy stuff you’re doing together and to be told that they’re getting turned on enough to take things further. For example, “you’re getting me so turned on that I really wanna [again, insert desired sexy sex thing here]. Does that sound good to you?” It’s essentially telling them that they’re really attractive and that they’re doing the sexy stuff well! And who doesn’t want that when they’re starting to get it on?!

E = Explained

Consent needs to be “fully informed”. In other words, the person needs to know what they’re consenting to. Normally, that’s pretty obvious (i.e. most people don’t need the concept of “sex” or a “blow job” explained), but if you’re getting into anything kinky that they might not have heard of, or if they seem like they don’t understand, then you need to make sure they know what it is they’re letting themselves in for.
It’s also really important that you’re honest about it. For example, if someone says “yes” to having protected sex with you, and you slip off the condom without telling them, that consent no longer applies. They need to be completely clear and okay with what you’re doing. Otherwise, it’s not consent.

N = No is Okay

If you ask someone to do something sexual with you and they say “no”, respect that. They have every right to refuse your requests to do things to their body. Don’t go getting angry with them or try to manipulate them into changing their mind. Just accept that they’re not into it, swallow your pride, and move on. You’d want them to do the same for you.
On that note, at any point during a sexual encounter, you should always feel as though you are able to say no. Try not to worry about whether you’ll hurt the other person’s feelings or not give them what they want. Just do you. And if doing you means saying no, then do. If the other person isn’t cool with that or behaves disrespectfully about it, then fuck ‘em (figuratively, that is). They’re not worth your time, or your booty.

T = Two-Sided

Last of all, it’s important to remember that consent goes both ways. You should make sure that they’re okay and that you’re okay. It’s a conversation that should flow reciprocally back and forth. The rights and needs of both people should be respected, and the responsibility of consent should ideally be equally shared between both parties.
Bearing that in mind, the only thing you have real control over is you – so start by making sure you’re practicing consent, and show your sexual partners how it’s done. They’ll probably find it hot – or at least they’ll learn a thing or two.
Sex should be fun and enjoyable, right? But it should be fun and enjoyable for both parties. That is why consent is so important and so much more than just a formality.
It actually makes sex better. You know they’re into it, they know you’re into it, you’re both having a good time, and you both feel respected. And while it may not seem very “chill”, it’ll make your sex hot as hell.
So, check on it, people. Check on it goooood.

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