Why you need to know about enthusiastic consent

Now this is consent! We explore the new concept of enthusiastic consent and why its the only way forward for us

Why you need to know about enthusiastic consent
© Getty Images
Why you need to know about enthusiastic consent

When it comes to sex, consent is crucial. According to Planned Parenthood ‘sexual consent is an agreement to participate in a sexual activity. Before being sexual with someone, you need to know if they want to be sexual with you too.’

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Consent is therefore about communicating your sexual desires and getting ongoing approval for each and every sex act about to be performed.

How is enthusiastic consent different to regular consent?

Although the idea of consent may seem fairly straightforward, there are still a lot of ambiguities that make prosecuting rape challenging even today. This is because normal consent concentrates on whether or not a ‘no’ is present rather than a 'yes.'

As a result, a newer model has been developed.

Enthusiastic consent is modelled on receiving a strong, excited ‘yes’ from your partner. Someone may not want to have sex with you without even saying ‘no’ or they might feel pressured into saying ‘yes’.

Yes! Yes! YES! That's how excited we are about enthusiastic consent Getty Images

What does enthusiastic consent look like?

According to RAINNS, enthusiastic consent can be expressed verbally or through nonverbal cues, such as

  • Positive body language like smiling, maintaining eye contact, and nodding.
  • Confirming that there is reciprocal interest before initiating any physical touch.
  • Check in with your partner before the type or intensity of a sexual activity changes and receive confirmation that they are okay with that.
  • Providing positive feedback (verbally and nonverbally) when you’re comfortable with an activity.
  • Explicitly agreeing to certain activities, either by saying 'yes' or another affirmative statement, like 'I’m open to trying.'
  • Using physical cues to let the other person know you’re comfortable taking things to the next level

However, whilst non-verbal clues may add to the sense of enthusiasm, receiving verbal consent is still a must. Similarly, physical reactions like an erection, lubrication, arousal, or an orgasm do not equate to consent. These reactions are involuntary, which means your body may act in a certain way even if you are not consenting to the activity.

So next time you're having sex, prioritise being in tune with your partner's verbal and physical responses and get that 'yes, Yes, YES!'

Sources used:

RAINNS: 'What Consent Looks Like'

Planned Parenthood: 'Sexual Consent'

Fumble: 'Enthusiastic Consent'

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