What is consent?

Consent means respecting boundaries and never making assumptions.¹ Consent is an enthusiastic, ongoing, clear, and mutual agreement between participants agreeing to engage in interactions together. It applies to all interactions with others, sexual, non-sexual, technology interactions, etc. It is important to remember that a person can change their mind and consent can be withdrawn at any point.

Consent in action: what does consent look and sound like?

All partners feeling safe and being able to communicate openly makes interactions more fun. Remember that consent is ongoing and needs to happen regularly, someone agreeing to something in the past does not mean they have agreed to it in the future. 

Here are some example phrases of what consent can look like in action:

  • Do you want to hold hands?
  • Can I unzip that?
  • Can I send you a picture?
  • Do you want to go any further?
  • Does this feel okay?
  • Do you want to slow down?

How can I ensure I have consent?

The acronym FRIES can help us remember important aspects of consent, know we have consent, and know that our partner(s) are into what we are doing with them.

Consent is: 

F – Freely given , R – Reversable , I – Informed , E – Enthusiastic , S – Specific 

Consent is not: 

  • Coerced. Consent cannot be obtained by intimidation, manipulation, force, or through the abuse of a position of power or trust, or by using drugs or alcohol.
  • Assumed. Consent needs to be clear and explicit, it cannot be assumed from silence, lack of physical resistance, current or previous sexual relationships, or consent given during previous interactions.
  • Physiological. Consent can’t be determined by what naturally happens during physical arousal.

*Alcohol and other substances significantly impact the ability for someone to consent. Consent cannot be given if someone is incapacitated by drugs, alcohol, or other substances.

Learn more

The Wake Forest University definition of consent can be found under the Title IX and Sexual Misconduct policy section 1.06.

Sources: ¹ loveisrespect.org

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