Sexual Consent

“Don’t guess the yes”

When it comes to sex, world trends are moving toward what is called “affirmative consent”. What is affirmative consent? Some say it is a matter of common sense and respect. Let’s break it down to what affirmative consent is, and what affirmative consent is not.

Affirmative consent IS

“Affirmative consent “… means that “people must say or do something to find out whether their partner consents to sexual activity, or they could be found guilty of sexual assault”, according to McFarlane (2021) of 1 News. Rape Prevention Education (2020) defines consent as:

· “a ’free’ agreement made together
· an enthusiastic “yes””
· something that is re-established every time sex happens

They go on to explain that a ‘free’ agreement means that when people agree to join in anything sexual, they are free to change their mind at any point, and say ‘no’. It also means that they are free from being influenced by any substances or coercion. This ‘free agreement’ needs to happen every time, even if people have already had sex together before. It is made in the moment. An enthusiastic ‘YES’.

Affirmative consent IS NOT

New Zealand law recognizes that there are situations where consent can’t be given. For example, consent can’t be given if someone is too affected by alcohol or other drugs, if someone is under the age of 16, or if there is any pressure/force/threat/coercion (Rape Prevention Education, 2020).

A lack of consent can be expressed using words and body language. Some examples of verbal non-consent could be someone saying “no”, “stop” or “I don’t want to”. It is important to note that a lack of ‘no’ is not the same as ‘yes’. Some examples of non-verbal NON-consent could be someone saying nothing, turning their head or body away from you, pushing you away, lying still/not participating, avoiding being touched or not touching you. (University of California, 2022).

It is the responsibility of the person asking to participate in sexual acts to make sure that there is an enthusiastic yes.

If non-consensual sex has been part of your life, it could be helpful to talk to someone. If sex has happened without your consent, or if you have had sex with someone without their consent, SafeToTalk could be helpful for you. SafeToTalk is a free, confidential, non-judgemental 24/7 service. You can call 0800044334, text 4334, or contact support@safetotalk.nz. In an emergency, please dial 111.

For help with anything like this, please contact me here.

Jenny Ensing on my mobile 0275367464