If We’re Going to “Just Talk About It”, We Have To Talk About This too – Consent 101!

By Carlee Taga

Because every month is a good time to talk about consent in sexual interactions, Beforeplay.org is set to keep talking about it beyond Sexual Assault Awareness month. Beforeplayers know that safe, consensual sex isn’t just sexy – it’s mandatory! Sex can and should be an amazing, healthy, and pleasurable experience. However, we live in a culture that often ignores assault allegations, minimizes the severity of sexual violence, and even permits predator’s freedom. Approximately 1 in 6 women and 1 in 33 men have been the victims of sexual assault or attempted sexual assault, but only 3% of rapists will ever spend any time in jail. Sexual assault isn’t just when a shady figure attacks someone in the alley; in reality, most victims of sexual assault personally know their attacker.

Beforeplay.org stands in solidarity with victims/survivors of sexual assault and participates in events including Slut Walk Denver, One Billion Rising and National Denim Day.

Beforeplay.org loves talking about sex and debunking myths and stereotypes. And there are a lot of them surrounding consent. First of all, what is consent? Consent is the conscious, vocal action of deciding to have sex. Only a fully-informed, clear and enthusiastic “YES” is a yes!

We’re all for yes when both say yes. But even if a yes later turns to “I don’t like that” or “that’s not what I want to do”, stop. If a partner’s body language changes – they become stiff, disengage eye contact, stop talking, etc. – stop. Persuading a person, continually asking until they give in or making them feel like they cannot say no is NOT consent.

Anyone is entitled to change his or her mind at any point in time. It doesn’t matter who paid for drinks, dinner or concert tickets, if you promised them sex before, if you have been dating for a while, or if you started to have sex and then changed your mind. You never owe sex to anyone. Ever!

Talking about your personal comfort level is an ongoing conversation; check in frequently to make sure everyone is enjoying themselves and completely content!

There are also situations where consent cannot occur. Age is a factor in consent. In Colorado the age of consent is 17 and for young people under age 17, the age of their partner matters when it comes to consent. Also, if someone is under the influence of alcohol or drugs consent may not be possible. Pressure from a boss or anyone who holds a position of power (like a teacher or coach) is considered coercion. Finally, consent must be fully informed – so lying about using birth control or protection isn’t just risky for your health, it also makes consent unattainable!

As stated, the conversation about consent should be ongoing and evolving. Check out some of these resources to keep talking:

An AWESOME video about Consent, or the Colorado Coalition Against Sexual Assault Facebook Page or the SlutWalk Denver Facebook page.

Keep it safe, sexy and consensual Colorado – we all have a role in this.

Carlee Taga is an outreach team member with beforeplay.org. She is also a contributor to a sexual health education and discussion blog, www.letshavethetalk.com