Sometimes it really isn’t! Most of the time you think you would know intuitively if the person in front of you wants to or doesn’t want to do something, but do you?
And that is important because sex without consent isn’t sex – it is sexual assault or rape. That’s why we have to learn how to ask for and give enthusiastic consent.
Consent is FRIES. Wait what?
FRIES – Freely given, Reversible, Informed, Enthusiastic, Specific
Freely Given: If you pressure someone or trick them into it, it isn’t consent. People who are drunk, high and especially people who are passed out can’t give their consent.
Reversible: Just because you wanted to do it that one time doesn’t mean you want to do it every time. Even if you are naked in bed or in the middle of it you can still withdraw your consent.
Informed: You need to know all the facts that are relevant for your consent. If the other person tells you they’ll use some contraceptive and then they don’t – it is not consensual.
Enthusiastic: Everything you do is much more fun if all the people involved are excited about it. If you get the feeling that the other person isn’t happy – check in and ask.
Specific: Just because you gave your consent for one thing (e.g. making out) doesn’t mean that you automatically gave your consent for everything else.
Consent is like TEA. Yeah… but wait what?
There is a YouTube video which tries to explain consent with the example of tea and it shows how simple the definition of consent really is. If you ask someone if they want tea and they reply by saying “Hell yeah, thank you.” then you know they want some tea. If they reply with “No thank you.” you know they don’t want any tea and you wouldn’t force them to drink the tea. If they are unconscious, you wouldn’t force them to drink the tea. If they wanted to drink some tea with you last week, but today they don’t want any tea, you wouldn’t force them to drink the tea.
It is THAT simple.
But how would you deal with it in everyday life?
Asking for consent is often a taboo and could be difficult because you maybe fear that the person you like isn’t down to do the same things you are. Or that it feels awkward to talk about it – but it makes having sex less awkward because you already talked about everything and you established a safe space by communicating freely. And isn’t every activity more fun if everyone involved is excited about it?
“I really want to kiss you. Do you want me to?”
The other person could reply by saying “OMG, yes!” or something similar but of course there are times when you hear “I don‘t like that” or “I‘m not ready for that.”, “I really like you but I don‘t want to do that right now.” or “How about we do ___ instead?”.
It isn’t always easy to say no – especially if you get the feeling you are going to disappoint the other person. But it is really important to be honest to yourself and to your special someone – even if it means disappointing them this time.
Try to appreciate the honesty of the other person.
Planned Parenthood. All about consent. (n.d.). Retrieved from https://www.plannedparenthood.org/learn/teens/sex/all-about-consent
[Blue Seat Studios]. (2015, May 12). Tea consent [Video File]. Retrieved from https://youtu.be/oQbei5JGiT8
Elissa Killiana is an intern at Willingness. She is in her last year of clinical psychology in Vienna and has a special interest in everything related to gender, sexuality and relationships.