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It can be tricky talking about what we do and don’t want, particularly when it comes to sex. However, consent can’t happen without communication.
Rape Prevention Education's (RPE's) BodySafe programme outlines four awesome steps to consent to help you get the conversation going!
First of all ask yourself what you are keen to do. Ask the person you are with the same thing – it can be as simple as “So…what do you want to do?” or “Are you sure you want to do this”? It can sometimes be tempting to try and ask in subtle ways without actually directly saying what you want.
The trouble with that is sometimes the other person may not be sure what you mean or thinks you mean something else (which can often make things awkward!). It’s best to just be straight-up and direct so that there’s no room for confusion.
Listen for ‘Yes’ and ‘No’ messages from yourself and the other person. When listening, remember to notice body language as well as what is being said out loud – some people find it really hard to say ‘No’ verbally if they aren’t keen on what is happening.
It also involves your physical reactions. If doing something sexual hurts, then stop. Sex should not hurt.
If someone is saying 'Maybe', 'I’m not sure', backing away, staying really still or being silent they are not saying ‘Yes’. Back off and ask them how they are feeling.
'No' messages can be things like looking sad or upset, refusing to make eye contact, crying, being very still, moving away or not responding to touch, putting their clothes back on.
'Yes' messages can be things like people looking happy, making eye contact, moving towards and responding to touch, kissing back, taking their clothes off.
Respect the person you are asking to do sexual stuff with. You might be keen to be sexual with them, but if they’re not so sure - show respect and stop what you’re doing. Respect how they might be feeling. Don’t force, pressure or guilt them into doing something they don’t want to do. Respect your own morals and beliefs as well, they are what make us unique. The right person will respect these also.
This means looking back on something that has happened and thinking about how it made you feel, whether it’s sexual or not. Checking in with yourself on what you’ve done sexually can help you learn about what you like or don’t like. It is also useful to talk with the person you were with, see what they liked, and what they want to do again.
If you want to find out more, check out RPE's BodySafe website below: