YEP Crew Blog – Jordina Quain: Let’s talk about consent baby!

What even is consent? It seems to be a word that gets used a lot lately but sometimes as a young person it can be hard to understand, especially when you think it’s somehow related to tea!

Consent is defined as “permission for something to happen or an agreement to do something”. That seems to make it pretty simple, how good are dictionaries am I right?

You ask permission to use other people’s things, you ask your parents if you can do certain things and you ask permission from your teachers to go certain places. When people say yes to these questions, they are giving their consent, when they say no, they are not consenting. It seems pretty straight forward in this context, but somehow in sexual interactions people find consent hard to understand, and that’s because it can be a little more complicated in these circumstances. A steadfast rule to remember is that no means no.

No does not mean, keep going. No does not secretly mean yes. No does not mean keep trying, it simply means no. Imagine a traffic light, no is the red – the point where you stop what you’re doing, the orange is where you check in with the other person, and green is yes – you can keep going! Some people think that girls are the person in the situation to say no and that boys are always up for sex, but that is not the case. Anyone at any time can give or take away their consent. Just because you said yes at the start, does not mean you have to go through with something if you change your mind. Just because you give consent for oral sex, does not mean you consent to penetrative or anal sex. Different ‘acts’ require further consent.

You may be thinking, “what are you supposed to just stop what you’re doing and ask for consent?!”, and while you can do that if you like, there are plenty of ways to ask for consent in positive sexy ways, you can say “ooh I like that”, “Keep going!”, “YES!”, “I like it when you…”, these are all green lights for consent! When consent isn’t given it’s not always by saying ‘stop’ either, it can sound like these; “Can we hold on for a second”, “I’m not sure I want to do this”, “Can we take a break?” Like anything there are always exceptions so treat sex or sexual behaviours like a conversation, keep communicating with your partner and looking for communications from them.

Legally you cannot give sexual consent if you are under 16 or under the influence of alcohol or drugs. We aren’t saying people don’t have sex under 16 or under the influence of alcohol or drugs, but the law says it is illegal. This is because your age and cognitive state can impact your ability to give informed consent, this means that you aren’t aware of all the factors surrounding sex and therefore can’t say you want to do it. The law is ultimately there to protect people. This law is trying to stop children from being coerced (which means to be persuaded or convinced) into having sex, or from intoxicated people having sex they don’t want. When people drink alcohol or take drugs, their judgement is impacted which can impair their decision making skills. People might say yes when they are drunk and in the morning realise that they wouldn’t have done something they did if they had been sober, which is why this law exists. So back to consent – not only can you not give consent when you’re under 16 or intoxicated, but you also should not be having sex with people under 16 or people who are intoxicated, that is when the law steps in.

We know this can be a really confusing topic, but it’s really important that we all understand it, so if this post has made you more confused or brought about any questions, please ask us! We love getting questions and helping out so don’t hesitate to flick us a message and we will get back to you as soon as we can with an answer!

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Vanessa Vlajkovic

Hi! My name is Nessa and I’m 20 years old. I’m studying Journalism at Edith Cowan University, with a Public Relations minor. I am an avid reader, writer, traveller and cheerleader. I’m also a passionate advocate for the deafblind community, and for other types of disability. I’ve been on the committee of the Youth Disability Advocacy Network (YDAN) at YACWA for a few months, and through them have developed a desire to become a YEP volunteer, as I want to expand my horizons.

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