When thinking about sex consent is the one lesson that everyone needs to learn and understand.

Most people have an idea that consent is about agreeing to do something – so when it comes to sex consent is all about whether the person you are hoping to have sex with wants to have sex with you.

If you have sex with someone who doesn’t consent then we are talking about rape – to find out more read this…

Sounds simple doesn’t it – the trouble is…

How do you know if someone wants to have sex with you?

It’s not as if we give out consent forms to our partners and ask their parents to sign them, as if it’s a school trip…!

Now, I speak to a lot of young people and the answer I hear again and again, is that sex just kind of happens – you are making out and just keep going… moving your hands and having a fiddle and if your partner doesn’t stop you or put the brakes on, then you just carry on.

Indeed, this seems to be most people’s experience. Unfortunately, we are not very good at asking our partners if they want or like what we are doing. Instead, we make the assumption that if they haven’t said ‘no’ or tried to stop us then it must mean ‘yes’. This is a very dangerous assumption and leads to lots of people having sex when they don’t really want to, and haven’t really consented.

A lot of people say that consent is simple and we over complicate it all. At the end of the day, yes means yes and No definitely means no… but this only works if everyone talks and people don’t stay silent.

Consent is saying yes when you have the opportunity and ability to say no.

Which means if someone is under pressure, is scared, has been threatened or coerced, is too drunk or confused or feels that they are not in a position to say no… even if they stay silent or make no effort to stop you or have even said ‘yes’ – it doesn’t count and they haven’t really consented. It only counts as a ‘yes’ if they have the ability to say ‘no’.

Watch this great Tea and Consent video 

© Going off the Rails 2014. Adapted from ‘Playing Downstairs’ by Jonny Hunt

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