This section is about sexual predators of adults situations, and I want to clarify that this is not limited to male and female situations. Consent pertains to EVERYONE regardless of your gender identity or choice of sexual partner.
Persons of ANY gender identity can be a sexual predator or be sexually taken advantage of. There is a common misconception that men cannot be raped by women or that women can not rape other women. This is completely untrue and absolutely dangerous that it is not often spoken about or acknowledged often enough.
For our purposes, “consent” will be defined as an agreement between participants to engage in sexual activity. The word “adult” will be defined as anyone who is old enough to consciously and independently consent to participating in a sexual situation. Some states do have different ages for consent, so it is vital that you know the age of consent for sexual contact for the state you are in.
All of that being said, it is never too early to educate anyone about what consent is, what it means and how to establish personal boundaries for yourself.
Consent should always be an enthusiastic, clear and voluntary act. It is important to NEVER assume that someone is consenting to your sexual advances. If someone is wishy washy or hesitant to your advances that does NOT imply consent. Just because someone does not directly say no, doesn’t respond or even responds with ‘maybe’ does NOT mean that they consent.
Consent is MANDATORY.
If you consent to one thing, it doesn’t mean that you consent to other acts. What that means is that just because you may consent to someone kissing you, it doesn’t automatically mean that you consent to someone kissing AND touching you.
You also have the right to WITHDRAW consent at any time. Just because you consented at the beginning of a sexual act, doesn’t mean that you don’t have the right to change your mind. You are by no means required to continue with any sexual act just because you started one.
If someone is inebriated (passing out, has vomited, has limited or no response when being spoken to) they are not able to grant consent. Consent cannot be given when an individual does not have the capability to purposely choose to participate in sexual activity.
Inebriation can happen in many ways. We are quick to recognize someone over indulging in alcohol as the most common cause of inebriation, however it can also be caused by being high on mind altering substances, legal prescriptions, as well as over the counter medications that can make you drowsy. If you wouldn’t enter a legal contract on it, it belongs in this category.
In 2014 the state of California signed the 1st affirmative consent law (SB 967), aka “Yes means Yes“ into action for college sexual assault cases.
In a nutshell, the law says that affirmative consent means affirmative, conscious, and voluntary agreement to engage in sexual activity. It is the responsibility of all parties involved to ensure they have affirmative consent of others to participate in sexual activity.
Lack of protest or resistance does not mean consent, nor does silence mean consent. Affirmative consent must be ongoing and can be revoked at any time. Persons cannot consent if they are unconscious, incapacitated, unable to communicate due to a physical or mental condition.
Just because you have consented to having sexual relations with someone in the past does not give them the right to have sex with you again without your consent. One-time consent doesn’t mean continued consent.
Just because you are in relationship with someone does not give them the right to have sex with you, without your consent. It doesn’t matter if you are in a relationship for 1 day or 50 years, all parties must be consenting to sexual activity EVERY TIME.
Regardless of the situation, if anyone gets in your personal space and makes you feel uncomfortable you absolutely have the right to set and establish boundaries.
You are not required to hug or even shake hands with someone if you don’t wish to do so. If you say no and the person persists, it is important that you enforce your personal boundaries. Oftentimes, predators will attempt to slowly wear down your boundaries by progressively crossing small ones to see if they can gain your trust and obedience.
Sometimes they may seek to exploit your good nature and politeness.
It is very important that you don’t allow yourself to fall into the ‘kindness trap’. Too often we find ourselves being too nice to people who make us feel uncomfortable because we feel that is what is expected of us.
You are not required to be nice or polite if you feel uneasy with someone who is around you. Be direct and stand your ground.
The more personal boundaries you give away due to implied social obligation, the more you are allowing yourself to be worn down to a position of compliance. Eventually they will then begin to escalate their behavior.
Let’s talk about what Affirmative Consent and Enthusiastic consent mean when we apply them in a practical situation.
When you actively practice Affirmative Consent with Enthusiastic Consent it means that instead of letting sexual situations progress until someone says “no” you instead verbally and physically consent while continually affirming to your partner what you want and that you are ok with what is happening to you.
Think of using phrases such as:
“Do you want me to.. “
“May I touch…?”
“I wish you would….”
“I love it when you..”
You get the idea.
Any partner involved in the situation can clearly withdraw consent at any time.