The Most Important Thing to Give and Receive in Sex
Education & Research Consent should always be at the forefront of conversations about sex, and it’s important to know exactly what it means.
Consent means that both people feel good and are excited about what’s happening and aren’t just letting something happen. Both people are clear about what’s going to happen next, and are happy about it. Each partner is checking in with one another before any sexual activity occurs and throughout to make sure both people want to continue.
Sexual assault is any sexual contact without consent, and unfortunately it happens too often. The truth is, many people simply don’t know how to talk about consent. People rarely learn about consent in school or from their parents, and we almost never see movies or TV shows where people talk about what they want or don’t want to do before things get physical. We don’t have enough examples of what consent looks like or skill-building about how to communicate, so it’s no wonder there’s confusion.
So how do you know if you have consent from another person? Giving and getting consent is as easy as “FRIES."
Doing something sexual with someone is a decision that should be made without pressure, force, manipulation, or while drunk or high. If a person is drunk, high, passed out, or asleep, they can’t consent to sex. Silence is not consent. Saying “I don’t know” is not consent. Without a freely given and clear "yes," you do not have consent and sexual activity should not happen.
“Everyone has the right to say 'no' to anything at any time or change their mind about what they want to do.”
Everyone has the right to say “no” to anything at any time or change their mind about what they want to do. Yes, even if you’ve been been sexually active with this person before or are in the middle of having sex. It’s not enough to get consent one time — you need consent every time, throughout. So if someone says “stop” you need to stop immediately.
Be honest and open with your partner both about what you do and don’t want to do, and about using birth control and having safer sex. You should also let partners know if you're sexually active with other people.
The only way to know if you have consent is if the person you are with is enthusiastically saying “yes” in a way that is totally clear to you. Not sure? Ask. Don’t get a "yes"? Stop. If someone isn’t into it you shouldn’t have sex with them.
Saying yes to one thing (like going to the bedroom to make out) doesn’t mean someone has said yes to other things (like oral sex). That’s why you need to talk with your partner before and during sexual activity to make sure you’re both comfortable.