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» Got Questions? Get Answers. » SCARLETEEN CENTRAL » Sex Basics and Sexual Health » What Does Having Full Consent Look Like?

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Author Topic: What Does Having Full Consent Look Like?
Heather
Executive Director & Founder
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I'd like to do a blog piece here to get some meaningful conversation about consent happening.

One thing I think we need to help with that is for people to be able to really get a sense of what real, bonafide, do-me-now consent looks like.

So, I'd like your help.

What I want to focus on right now, since we seem to have a lot of conversation about the other side of this, is what your experiences are and have been about what it looks like, feels like, is like when we GET consent -- when someone is saying yes to us sexually -- rather than when we give it.

I also feel like it can be a useful tool for self-reflection when it comes to what our partners should be looking for with US to think about what we look/listen/feel for with them. Sometimes people can hold themselves to a different standard per giving consent (often a lower one) than they would a partner.

When you're with someone sexually, and you're establishing consent, what is that like? Not just what conversations you have -- though I want to hear about that, too -- but what kinds of nonverbal cues scream and shout ABSOLUTELY CONSENTING TO THIS to you when you are looking to a partner to figure out if they're consenting to what's going on?

(For example, a partner using their hands to pull you closer and closer to them can be one typical nonverbal cue of consent, whereas pushing away can be one typical nonverbal cue of nonconsent.)

I won't publish handles, but if you, in describing that for us, could give your age and two initials (like, HC would be me) for us to use for those we publish, that'd be awesome sauce. We don't need to know your gender or orientation of your partners, either, since after all, there shouldn't be different standards of consent based on those things.

Thanks, and looking forward to the conversation!

[ 11-05-2009, 06:31 PM: Message edited by: Heather ]

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Heather Corinna, Executive Director & Founder, Scarleteen
About MeGet our book!
Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has. - Margaret Mead

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Q
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i know you're trying to publish something of your own on this topic, and i don't have anything of that nature to provide, but for kids and adults who are interested in reading about consent and want something to hold them off until this conversation gets rolling, this is a great issue of a zine that they should all download and check out:

http://zinelibrary.info/learning-good-consent

i wish you luck on this project, heather!

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Kalex
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Nonverbal consent, to me, is open body language (not huddled and protective), smiles, a certain sparkle in the eyes, clear eye contact. It is an enthusiastic response to a 'May I?', not just a shrug. I know that both of us are giving consent when we are both equally engaged, (not necessarily in intercourse), responsive, and taking initiative rather than lying there passively. There may be laughter and occasionally silliness, but there should be no fear in the other's eyes.
~KM, 18.

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September
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I don't like to assume, so if the other person doesn't initiate a conversation about what's happening, I will. Generally, before clothes start to come off, I'll check in and ask how they feel about what's happening.

A big non-verbal clue that spells consent to me is when someone takes the initiative. When they don't just go along, but take charge, try something different, do something quirky. Cute little things that wouldn't enter your mind if you weren't into it.

Another biggie is eye-contact. Seeking it out, sustaining it.

But mostly, really, I'm into communicating. Unless we're talking about a spontaneous ONS, chance are that we've talked about sex at great length before we get to having it, so I have a good idea about the other person's sexual personality and can tell, to some extent, whether they're into it (or whether they're the kind of person who would have trouble asserting their boundaries).

[ETA, just in case: JS, 25]

[ 11-05-2009, 08:28 PM: Message edited by: September ]

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-joey
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"The question is not who will let me, but who is going to stop me." -Ayn Rand

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paper towel
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What my partner and I do is just unbutton the top of our pants. It's become our cue for, "hey, let's take this in THAT direction." Also, on the occasions when we're already not wearing our pants, just sort of moving into a given position mid-mack out usually works for us. GM, 18
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Onionpie
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my partner drools. Haha, not really, but it looks like he might as well be drooling, when he's really turned on and wanting more; that tends to be what I pay most attention to. Also the less-subtle things, like starting to take off his pants, are pretty good clues [Razz]

Fluttery/half-closed eyelids and heavier breathing along with gently pulling me closer also comes along with the almost-drooling thing. I definitely find it REALLY freaking obvious when he's really turned on, hehe. And I don't settle for less; I never take anything less than drooling and pulling me closer as consent.

JA, 17 (or you could use my handle if you want, I really don't mind)

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Love-Life
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Trying to think of exact clues is harder than I thought. Consent is one of those things where a lot of little things have to be there...

A big one for me and my partner would be having both of us involved. Even if I'm starting the sexual contact, he will always be rubbing my back or playing with my hair. Eye contact and smiles are another important thing I look for, however eyes are not always open so his breathing is a cue for me.

If I'm ever unsure, I ask! That's the most obvious cue. I also trust him to tell me if he doesn't want to do something because I know that if he isn't comfortable he will tell me.

I think that consent at the beginning of any form of sex is easier to take subtle cues from.
I find that in the middle of it is a little trickier because subtle cues are sometimes lost. I know that if he became unresponsive... that's him removing consent. But other than that I think that a simple "can we stop for now?" or "hey, the game is starting!" are pretty good cues too. :-)

VW, 18

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:-) Vikki (-:

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Heather
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(These are great, y'all: so fantastic to hear your words on this! For future replies, if people in L/T partnerships could also talk about consent at the START of r'ships, that'd be great. That's usually when it can be more challenging to get/understand nonverbal cues.)

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Heather Corinna, Executive Director & Founder, Scarleteen
About MeGet our book!
Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has. - Margaret Mead

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not_a_hobgoblin
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*At the beginning of my L/T relationship, I knew that she was less experienced than me, so I would wait for her to make whatever moves she was comfortable with, and match them so she knew I was comfortable too. Common consent cues involved meeting each others' eyes and nodding, tugging the other person closer, etc.

*Now (2.5 years in) consent cues are typically "audible" but not verbal per se- we know each other's happy noises very well. The easier thing would be to describe nonconsent- if we're not into it right now, we'll sigh and tuck our heads into snuggle rather than make happy noises.

Edit to add initials and age: CD, 20

[ 11-06-2009, 01:12 PM: Message edited by: not_a_hobgoblin ]

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Heather
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(Bumping this up b/c having more would be so much better. [Smile] )

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Heather Corinna, Executive Director & Founder, Scarleteen
About MeGet our book!
Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has. - Margaret Mead

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EliotDorian
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I methodically give a glimpse of my stash of condoms, then make eye contact. Then the ball will be in the guy's court. From there, I get a sense of where things will go.
Oh, also, if a guy makes some move on me and it's one that's welcome, I usually do the same to him. Mirroring and all.
KP, 22

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September
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I'm giving this post another bump!

We've got a poll up on the front page, asking our users whether they've been sexually assaulted or abused, and a lot of them have answered with "I don't know".

So, let's talk about what consent looks like! How can we tell the difference between consensual and non-consensual sex? How do YOU tell the difference?

(Here's that poll:
http://www.scarleteen.com/node/3179 )

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-joey
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"The question is not who will let me, but who is going to stop me." -Ayn Rand

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lemdi
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(AB) Honestly, the single best sexual relationship I've had is the one I'm in now, and we talk through the stages. It can seem awkward at first, but with practice, it can be an amazing turn-on. Non-verbal cues have always, for me, been both easy to fake (in an abusive relationship where I didn't know what else to do and it was easier than fighting it) and easy to misinterpret.

I have a much harder time saying, "Yes, that, please," if I don't mean it than I would willing my body to respond favorably.

One thing that has really helped us be comfortable with talking through sex is having phone sex. It sounds weird, maybe, but if you're comfortable trying it, it can really help you learn to talk about the things that are going on, both in your response to your partner's words and in verbalizing what you want to do. It makes it a lot easier to be honest and open in the moment when you're actually together if you're already comfortable talking about your body and your desires.

ETA: There are of course physical cues that indicate interest, like the example given about pulling closer, and changes in the intensity of kissing, and so on. But it's just been so much better for me when we are verbalizing than when I've been in relationships where every aspect of sexual communication was strictly physical.

[ 08-16-2010, 08:59 AM: Message edited by: lemdi ]

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