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We Still Need to Talk About Consent

Consent is crucial, but some just don’t get it

Sexuality, sex awareness and sex etiquette are constantly in the spotlight, and yet, we still need to talk about consent.

Humboldt State University recently experienced a disruption in its supposed safe space when allegations arose against a faculty member by a student. The investigation into that case is ongoing. Unfortunately, violations against consent aren’t limited to our own campus.

Convicted rapist Harvey Weinstein’s case reveals consent still isn’t understood in the modern world. Weinstein was convicted of taking advantage of and sexually assaulting multiple women.

Regardless of the circumstance, consent is crucial.

Consent isn’t complex, but its idea continues to perplex those who fail to understand its simplicity. Yes means yes, and nothing else qualifies as a confirmation unless a yes is explicitly given.

Affirmative consent needs to be practiced, not just by sexually active people, but by all people, whether or not it pertains to sexual activity. The ability to revoke consent also needs to be understood.

Consent is far from a one-and-done response. It can be withdrawn at any moment.

Even in professions where one uses their body for monetary gain, the right to revoke consent at any time remains. The refusal to take further action is linked to the right to control one’s body without interference from another.

Everyone is born with this right. This universal entitlement to ownership of one’s body transcends all differences between individuals. All communities are entitled to their own bodies and to define consent in their own ways.

In cases where verbal consent isn’t an option, written consent can suffice. Those in deaf and nonverbal communities can look to signing or reading a partner’s physical signals to help prevent confusion and facilitate mutual, nonverbal consent.

It’s important to remember proper sex etiquette at all times. The following examples illustrate the ways in which consent is given and revoked:

  • Always ask your sexual partner if they’re ready and willing to engage in a sex act, without coercion.
  • You should cease sexual activities when someone says “Stop” or any other iteration of “No.” Expressing discomfort with an act is also a sign of hesitation, and should be considered before proceeding.
  • Anyone can withdraw consent at any time, even when a sex act is underway.
  • You should only engage in sex when all parties involved are in a coherent headspace, without the involvement of drugs and alcohol.
  • Body language doesn’t indicate consent to an act. Sexual arousal isn’t confirmation.
  • Do not use your position of power to persuade someone into any type of sex act. Professors, bosses, managers and even counselors have a responsibility to conduct themselves professionally, without sexual desires or encounters.

Regardless of the circumstance, consent is crucial. You can never be too presumptive when asking about someone’s comfort, and you can never be too cautious when verifying consent.

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