What is sexual consent? It is when you clearly and freely agree to sexual activity.
It's crucial to get consent every time.
Consent culture goes beyond just sex and applies to everyday interactions—anything from sharing a photo of someone online to asking before you give a hug.
When it comes to sex, there are things you can do to ensure you get consent and contribute to safer spaces for everyone.
Ask first—and ask every time
Maybe it seems awkward to verbally ask someone if they want to make out/hook up/have sex with you—that feeling is exactly why we need consent culture. When we have a culture of consent, there’s no embarrassment about asking someone if they want to move forward. It’s just part of the experience.
It’s so important to respect “no” or anything that isn’t an enthusiastic, 100% “yes” in words or actions. Consent culture is about valuing the other person enough to let them make their own decisions. It’s not necessarily a reflection on you, it’s what’s best for them (and vice versa)!
Consider what perpetuates rape culture
Even if you’ve never been sexually violent, there are implicit things that we say, do, or think that doesn’t make our community a safe space for everyone. Some of these are societal norms that we’ve been brought up not to question. These work against consent culture. For example:
Blaming a survivor—that’s rape culture.
Not believing a survivor—that’s rape culture.
If you hear your friend making a comment or a rape joke, tell them it’s not okay. It might be an awkward conversation, but creating a culture of consent means keeping each other accountable.
And if you find yourself thinking or saying things that promote rape culture, consider why you think that.
Based on the statistics, it’s likely that you will know someone who has experienced sexual violence. We are all part of someone’s support system, and you have the ability to support survivors, however they need it.
Being supportive can look like: finding a survivor a safe place, taking them to the Sexual Violence Prevention and Response Office, or just listening. Always ask what they need, don’t assume, and respect their decisions.
Believing survivors when they speak out about their experience is a major part of consent culture.