Consent is one of the most important, if not THE most important component to a happy and healthy relationship. And we’re not just talking about romantic relationships, any type of relationship you are in requires consent. From relationships with coworkers, friends, family members, and even strangers. All of these relationships require consent. So what is consent? And how does it happen? Consent is to give permission, and to collectively agree, for something to happen (touching someone’s hair, holding hands, kissing, hugging, sex, and so on) and it happens through clear and honest communication.
In order to break down the details of consent, we are going to focus on sexual/romantic relationships.
At Planned Parenthood, we believe consent is as easy as FRIES!
- Freely given. Consenting is a choice you make without pressure, manipulation, or under the influence of drugs or alcohol.
- In order for people to engage in consensual behavior, they must be able to consent and MUST be of the legal age of consent. In Arizona, that age is 18.
- Anyone can change their mind about what they feel like doing, anytime. Even if you’ve done it before, and even if you’re both naked in bed.
- You have the right to say “no” to any behavior that you do not want to engage in at any point, for any reason, and your partner must respect your decision. Your partner also has the right to say “no” to any behavior at any point, for any reason, and you must respect their decision.
- You can only consent to something if you have the full story. For example, if someone says they’ll use a condom and then they don’t, there isn’t full consent.
- When it comes to sex, you should only do stuff you WANT to do, not things that you feel you’re expected to do.
- Being honest with each other, understanding and respecting boundaries, are pivotal to healthy, and consenting relationships.
- Saying yes to one thing (like going to the bedroom to make out) doesn’t mean you’ve said yes to others (like having sex).
- Consent means actively agreeing to be sexual with someone — through each step of the physical encounter.
FRIES helps us understand and define consent, but “How Do I Talk About Consent?”.
Ask: “Can I [fill in the blank]?” or “Do you want me to do [fill in the blank]?” And listen for the answer. It’s also important to pay attention to their body language and tone.
If your partner says “yes” or makes it clear that they’re into it, then you have consent.
If your partner says “no,” doesn’t say anything, or says yes but seems unsure or uncomfortable, then you DON’T have consent.