What is consent? How does someone ask for it?
Consent is …
Crucial: Consent is always essential, not just in sexual situations. Practicing good consent is fundamental to respecting boundaries of friends, partners, or strangers. Consent can be practiced in situations at home, like when someone asks to borrow someone else’s clothes; at conventions, when someone asks before hugging someone they just met; and online, when someone asks before posting a picture of a friend.
Applicable to everyone involved: In sexual situations, everyone should be seeking consent from their partner(s) regardless of who is involved or who initiated the interaction.
Ongoing: Consent for one action doesn’t mean consent has been given for another — consenting to kiss does not mean that someone consented to sex, for example. Always check in with your partner throughout your interaction. Consent is a conversation, and ongoing communication is what helps to work against unsafe power dynamics.
Revocable: Consent can be taken back at any time, for any reason.
Given freely: If one or all parties are under the influence of alcohol or drugs, consent cannot be given freely. If someone has been coercive, forceful, or dishonest, consent cannot be given freely. If there’s a drastically unequal power dynamic, consent cannot be given freely.
Sometimes non-verbal: Consent can be a thumbs up or a nod of the head, but silence is not the same as consent. Learning to recognize unenthusiastic body language even with the presence of a nod is an important part of good consent; if a partner seems reserved, it may be a good time to check in with them.
Incorporate consent into your vocabulary with phrases like:
- Is this okay?
- How are you feeling?
- Can I kiss/hug/touch you?
If you’re not sure, stop and ask.
Further Resources from Uplift
- What is Consent? [Video]
- Coercion [Video]
- Alcohol and Consent [Video]
- Respect, Safety, Cosplay
- Consent when Sexting
Uplift is dedicated to combating sexual abuse in fandom spaces through education and advocacy. We work to ensure that these flourishing communities are safe for the millions of people who connect through them. Learn more at uplifttogether.org.