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  • Courtney Douglass

Understanding Consent

Sexual consent is like singing a song together.

Imagine this: you’re having a jam session alone in a studio with someone else. It doesn't matter if you’re someone who’s learning to sing of if you’ve been singing for decades now. Maybe your partner isn’t on the same skill set as you. That’s ok, because right now all you're worried about is having fun together. Maybe you have a tenor and they have a falsetto. Maybe you’re more into jazz songs while they love rock. You both bring different experiences and interests together to form something new. You work together to create a song that fits the both of you.

To do that, of course, you both want to be communicating together. If you don’t know each other super well, then that involves a lot of talking to figure out what your song will be like. You might even have to interrupt the song midway to say something doesn’t feel right. That’s okay to do! You can keep talking to figure out what works and what doesn’t. But if you know each other a little bit better you might be better at communicating without words. You can change the song with your voice and let the other person take the hint. Still, sometimes you don't like where the song is going and stop singing, but the other person keeps going. That’s when you tell them out loud. If they respect your say in the song, they’ll stop when you say so: simple as that.

Of course, you want them to sing because they enjoy doing it with you. Nobody should guilt somebody into singing with them. If the other person said they don’t want to sing, then you shouldn’t keep asking. Find something the two of you can do together that doesn’t involve singing, and leave it at that. You can always sing by yourself if you want to.

What if your partner came to the studio super drunk or high? Are they going to be able to sing very well? Wait till they're sober. You can always make agreements in sobriety if you want to sing while you're drunk. But it's best to wait to talk about it sober before assuming.

The biggest factor in this is that two people should be choosing to sing together, because they want to.

Consent is vital in all sexual interactions.

Consent involves constant, active communication between two people. It doesn’t matter if one person has never had sex before and the other has had many partners. Both people will be bringing their own experiences and interests into sex. They will need to communicate what they both want and enjoy to make it good.

If this is the first time they’ve gotten together, they need to be talking more. Remember that one person’s sounds of pleasure can be another’s sounds of pain. If something doesn’t feel right, people will have to talk about it. If you want to switch activities or stop, you should feel safe and respected enough that you can say so. The other person shouldn't get offended over it—they’ll figure out something else to do.

If you’ve been sexual partners for a while, nonverbal communication becomes simpler. But if anyone ever gets confused, it’s always ok to start talking again.

People should have sex because they want to have sex. There should be no guilt-tripping. No asking until they "give in". Power dynamics between people should be as equal as possible. The person with less power shouldn't feel they have to do it to keep their job or maintain a status or relationship.

If someone doesn’t want sex at any time, you should stop and figure out something else to do. And if you felt like you had to get off, you can masturbate.

People should also be sober enough that they can continue active communication. If you don’t know your partner well enough to know what that means, ask when they’re sober—don’t wait till they’re drunk. And if you ever have any doubts, then don’t have sex when you’re drunk or high. You can always wait.

The biggest thing is that two people should choose sex. Consent is sexy because it means active desire. Happy consenting!

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