Continuing the conversation: Enthusiastic consent!

Trigger Warning: some description of sexual violence and other discussion of lack of consent in links.

The SGA Town Hall on Monday brought together lots of students and administrators to have some really important and engaging conversations about sexual violence on campus. Some key themes regarding consent came up: What constitutes “enthusiastic consent”? What does sexual respect look like? How can we create a campus community where every member puts these concepts into practice and holds each other accountable to the same standards?

In the spirit of keeping the dialogue going, here are some thoughtful, informative, and fun links about enthusiastic consent:

  • Driver’s Ed for the Sexual Superhighway: Navigating Consent — a witty and smart post from the wonderful sex ed resource Scarleteen. Heather Corinna defines consent as “an active process of willingly and freely choosing to participate in sex of any kind with someone else, and a shared responsibility for everyone engaging in, or who wants to engage in, any kind of sexual interaction with someone. When there is a question or invitation about sex of any kind, when consent is mutually given or affirmed, the answer on everyone’s part is an enthusiastic yes….If you want one word to define consent with it’s yes. Consent is a yes a million times over, for the love of all things sparkly, awesome and delicious, and not a minute longer if you want to do it too, please, yes.” This article also has a thorough chart breaking down examples of verbal and nonverbal consent versus what consent is not.
  • Consent is Not a Lightswitch — Jaclyn Friedman, co-author of Yes Means Yes: Visions of Female Sexual Power and a World Without Rape (which also has a great blog), takes down the idea that consenting to one act is consenting to any act, which is so wrong, and instead shows that consent is an ongoing process. I love the combination of sass and wisdom in the article: “Contrary to what seems like popular belief, sexual consent isn’t like a lightswitch, which can be either “on,” or “off.” It’s not like there’s this one thing called “sex” you can consent to anyhow. “Sex” is an evolving series of actions and interactions. You have to have the enthusiastic consent of your partner for all of them. And even if you have your partner’s consent for a particular activity, you have to be prepared for it to change. See, consent isn’t a question. It’s a state. If, instead of lovers, the two of you were synchronized swimmers, consent would be the water. It’s not enough to jump in, get wet and climb out — if you want to swim, you have to be in the water continually. And if you want to have sex, you have to be continually in a state of enthusiastic consent with your partner.”
  • On the Critical Hotness of Enthusiastic Consent — a solid article describing how sexual assault prevention is thoroughly sex positive. The article also includes an amazing comic about sexual respect, boundaries, and consent. Check it out!

I hope these articles can help you keep the conversation happening: share them on your social media outlets (with a trigger warning, ideally — here’s why I use them in case that term is new to you), ask your friends what they think about these issues, or check out events happening elsewhere on campus since there are so many groups doing incredible work around consent, sex positivity, and violence prevention.

How would you like to see Well-Woman continue to engage issues around enthusiastic consent and sexual respect on our campus? Let us know in the comments!

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