Great sex only happens when everyone involved is having fun.
That’s why it’s important to check in with our sexual partners before, during, and after any kind of sexual activity (this includes sharing photos, filming videos, doing BDSM, etc.).
- enthusiastic—it’s a hard “yes!” and not an “I don’t know”
- active—it’s said with words. Silence isn’t consent
- clear—it’s not assumed based on actions or clothes
- sober—it’s not impaired by drugs or alcohol
- ongoing—it’s confirmed at each stage of activity, open to negotiation and renegotiation throughout, and can be withdrawn at any time
- voluntary—it’s not obtained through being pressured or coerced.
Sometimes we can feel pressured to give consent. From accepting a drink that someone has bought or giving someone your phone number, to sucking and fucking, it’s OK to not give your consent. But more than this, it’s the responsibility of others to respect your boundaries.
It’s also OK for someone to not give you their consent—and again, it’s your responsibility to respect their boundaries.
Perpetrators, not victims, are responsible for sexual violence
The onus is never on a victim to somehow prevent any sexual violence that’s been perpetrated against them.
This guide offers some precautionary tips in navigating spaces, but sexual violence (or any other violence) happens in many kinds of situations, including situations where victims take precautions. No victim of sexual violence, whatever precautions they do or don’t take, is responsible for that violence.
The responsibility for sexual violence lies with the perpetrators.
Speaking of consent
Gauging consent can be complicated, so having ongoing check-ins, conversations, and confirmation is crucial.
It can be awkward asking people what they want, but it’s a chance to learn about our sexual partners’ turn-ons and needs. It’s also a change to express our own turn-ons and needs.
“Needs” includes access needs. For example, maybe you need to take breaks during sex to check in with your body, or maybe your sexual partner needs to avoid scents.
Some phrases we can use
- “Are you into this?” “Is this OK?”
- “Can I kiss you?” “Is it OK if I touch you there?”
- “Do you have any access needs?”
- “This isn’t working for me. Can we try something else?”
- “I need a break for a bit.”
- “What would you like next?”