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A simple guide on consent, what it entails and what it isn’t

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This is blog was written by Amara Okoye, Warwick SU's Women's Officer for 2020/21.

What exactly is consent? 

Consent is a clear, consistent, coherent, enthusiastic and voluntary YES. If you do not have this, you do not have consent.  

14 Guidelines to consent. 

Please note, this is not an exhaustive list. Just because an example is not in this list, does not mean it is right. Consent must adhere to the 5 points above. If in doubt, do not proceed.  

  1. First and foremost, if your partner says ‘No’, you do not have consent to proceed with any sexual act of any kind. It is important to not proceed as they have explicitly expressed their wishes.  
  2. If the individual is under the influence of drugs or alcohol, they do not have the capacity to appropriately consent and so, you do not have consent in this instance and should not engage in any form of sexual activity with this individual.  
  3. The removal of condoms or any form of protection during intercourse is sexual abuse and voids consent. The conditions of the other person’s consent were with a condom on. If this is then secretly removed, you have changed the conditions and their consent no longer stands here. You no longer have consent. A person’s consent is specific to the context and only stands under the conditions of that situation. 
  4. Consent can only be provided in the moment. Regardless of how much they flirt with you beforehand and online, no matter how explicit and graphic the nature of the flirting occurs, consent is only possible in the moment. You should never assume consent because of flirtatious encounters beforehand. 
  5. An outfit is NOT consent. Regardless what a person is wearing, even if they are stark naked, until you receive a ‘YES’, you do not have consent to touch or engage in any form of sexual activity with this individual. Do not use someone’s outfit as permission to touch them.  
  6. If they need to be persuaded. This is not consent. Someone should ALWAYS be enthusiastic & willing to sleep with you. They should not be persuaded or convinced. Sex is not a challenge or a competition. Their YES must be a YES. Do not force someone to say yes 
  7. If they have said yes before, this does not give consent now. You MUST get a ‘yes’ EVERY SINGLE TIME you want to touch someone, no matter how many times you have slept together. 
  8. If they say yes in the beginning but then say no in the moment, the consent has been revoked. Stop immediately! People are allowed to change their mind, respect their decision & stop. 
  9. Communication is not verbal alone; body language is important. If they push you away or become unresponsive, STOP. Some people become very uncomfortable and are unable to say stop when being touched without their permission. But they are clearly showing their discomfort with the situation. Listen & watch! Consent has been revoked, stop, 
  10. They may consent to one sexual act but not others. Consent is needed to go forward - a simple “can I...” is all you need to say. ‘Yes’ to kissing does not imply ‘yes’ to other sexual activities, nor does ‘yes’ to a handjob imply ‘yes’ to sex. Consent is needed for each sexual act. Therefore, ask before proceeding.  
  11. Dating someone or being married to someone is not consent. It does not matter if you have just met or have been together for 40 years, consent is always required. You do not own the person’s body; they have a right to say ‘no’ even in marriage or in a relationship. 
  12. If they are underage, it is not consent! The disgusting and inappropriate excuses of a child “looking mature” or “acting mature” means nothing. If they are not of a consenting age, they cannot consent. Do not engage in sexual (online or physical) activities with a child. 
  13. If they are intimidated, threatened or pressured into saying yes - this is also NOT consent. If a person feels saying yes is their only way of guaranteeing their life, their job/career/education/future etc, then they are not saying yes willingly. This is NOT consent. 
  14. If they are asleep, this is not consent. If they cannot clearly communicate the words YES, then you do not have consent. A person being asleep in your room, house or vicinity is not consent. Do not use this as an excuse to touch a person.  

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