How we talk about consent.

Talking about sex needs to include talking about consent. Whilst young people need to know that sex can mean many different things and that the traditional heterosexual, reproductive definition doesn’t need to be the be-all and end-all, they also need to know that, whatever they call sex, it should be consensual.

Consent isn’t often shown in our wider media representation of sex. You often see one person making a move and another pulling away, only to eventually acquiesce. This isn’t automatically non-consensual, but teaching that “is this okay?”, “can I touch you here?”, “do you want to do this?” are probably better ways of starting a sexual encounter is advisable.

Conversations about consent sometimes refer to “ruining the moment”. Again, especially if you’re a young person, not doing anything that might be awkward can be a big concern. So talking about taking the opportunity to get consent is a good opportunity to phrase it in a positive light. Here are some tips for how:

  • Assure young people that breaking that “moment” can, and does happen. Often. Sex shouldn’t have to be one continuous flow.
  • Taking that time makes both of you feel more secure, and can make the following encounter better.
  • Getting consent can be sexy in itself. “What do you want me to do?” “Where do you want me to touch you?” are confident ways to ask for consent, and to ensure that your partner is getting what they want.
  • Remind young people that, if they don’t feel comfortable stopping to ask the person they’re with for consent, then they probably aren’t the right person to have sex with.
  • Remind them that consent is consensual. Both parties should be checking in that things are okay, not just one person (specifically the male person) has the responsibility for that.

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