Consent is ongoing; meaning it can’t be discussed just once! Instead, it initiates every sexual advance. Consent, by definition, must be specific, clear, and direct.
When do you ask for it? Any time you want to progress an encounter. How do you ask for it? Read on to explore with us!
First, what exactly is affirmative, enthusiastic consent?
Great question! Affirmative, enthusiastic consent is exclamatory, aware, and elective sexual consent. It means giving a verbal (affirmative and enthusiastic!) indication of willingness to engage in sexual activity of any kind. You might think of a sincere “yes!” to a direct question like “May I kiss your neck?” Consent is an important way to demonstrate respect and provide clarity in every sexual encounter.
Consent must be granted moment-to-moment. It can't be predetermined, given on someone else’s behalf, or assumed.
Let’s explore a few simple ways to ask for consent:
- Are you comfortable with holding hands?
- May I massage your back?
- Do you want to make out?
Now, fill in the blank yourself:
- May I _____?
- Would you like to ______?
- Is it okay if I ______?
3 ways to ask for consent
- Ask directly
What’s hotter than direct communication? Asking for what you want expresses confidence, which can be a total turn on. And if your partner(s) aren’t interested in progressing things further, your open communication will provide an opportunity for them to be just as direct.
The last thing you want to do is coerce or pressure a partner, as neither falls under the umbrella of consent.
- Ask openly
While affirmative consent requires a verbal, enthusiastic “yes!” at every stage, it can be helpful to open lines of communication with a more fluid conversation - before things get hot and heavy.
Ask your partner(s) about their desires and boundaries up front, and see where things lead. Of course, don’t forget to follow-up with clear, direct, and specific communication down the line, as consent is never assumed or granted in advance. But you know that by now!
- Play a game
Ask your partner(s) to participate in a game of consent communication. The game has one simple rule: Do ONLY what your partner(s) says, and ONLY if you agree to it. One of you goes first by making a simple, direct request, like “will you slowly kiss me?” The next partner(s) may now respond with “yes” or “no,” and then choose whether to progress. If you continue, it’s your turn to make the next request!
Our team of survivors, advocates, nurses, and lawyers are building trauma-informed tools in an effort to break cycles of sexual violence and support more folks on their healing journey. To learn more, visit Leda.co.