Giving Sexual Consent

*Click here for Consent Charts and Stats

Consent Q & A’s from Published Books 

  • Is there some way to get out of making love if you change your mind In the middle? What if you’re willing to continue but you just don’t want to do a certain thing? (click here)

Sexual consent (meaning informed sexual consent) basically means that those of legal age involved in any sexual activity know and agree to what they are participating in (minors can’t usually give consent, with some exceptions, such as when the minor is married, or when the age difference of the minor is close to the age of the person of legal age. These exceptions to minors giving consent are usually under state law. See the Consent: Minors Usually Can’t Give Consent for Sex Topic).

Without consent, what may seem like fun, good feelings, scoring or just sex, could be improper behavior, sexual abuse or even rape. There are legal questions about when one can and cannot give informed consent. For example, when one is drunk or under the influence of drugs, can one give informed consent? That would depend on the individual circumstances. After one drink, a person can probably give informed consent. After three or four drinks, or when falling down drunk, probably not.

The best and surest way to have and receive consent is to have specific and clear communications between the parties before any sexual activity. Such communications may not be romantic, or could hamper the mood, but open and clear communications at the onset of any sexual activity shows consideration to those involved, and protects the participants legally.

  1. What Consent Looks Like

    “Consent is an agreement between participants to engage in sexual activity. Consent should be clearly and freely communicated. A verbal and affirmative expression of consent can help both you and your partner to understand and respect each other’s boundaries. Consent cannot be given by individuals who are underage, intoxicated or incapacitated by drugs or alcohol, or asleep or unconscious. If someone agrees to an activity under pressure of intimidation or threat, that isn’t considered consent because it was not given freely. Unequal power dynamics, such as engaging in sexual activity with an employee or student, also mean that consent cannot be freely given.”

    RAINN (Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network),, accessed 6/13/2022

  2. Understanding Consent

    “Consent is an agreement that is willfully given without any external pressure or factors. Communication is key—boundaries should be established before, during, and after sexual activity. In order for someone to consent to sexual activity participants must continuously communicate before, during, and after sexual activity—this is the only way to establish clear boundaries between participants and allows for a relaxing experience. Consent does not always have to be verbal, but discussing boundaries, expectations, and consent between participants at each sexual encounter is the best way to avoid confusion and respect boundaries.”

    American Sexual Health Association,, accessed 6/13/2022

  3. What Is And Is Not Consent

    “Consent to some forms of sexual activity (e.g., kissing, fondling, etc.) should not be construed as consent for other kinds of sexual activities (e.g., intercourse). Being or having been in a dating relationship with the other party does not mean that consent for sexual activity exists. Previous consent to sexual activity does not imply consent to sexual activity in the future.”

    The College of Wooster,, accessed 6/13/2022

  4. Ten Myths About Rape

    “Myth 6: ‘You didn’t say no, so how were they supposed to know?’
    Reality: Consent is not not saying no. Consent is an enthusiastic affirmation of sexual activity. You do not need to say no for it to be considered rape or sexual abuse. …
    Myth 8: ‘If you experienced orgasm, it wasn’t rape.’
    Reality: The body has physical reactions that are not always controllable. Natural lubrication, erection, ejaculation, or orgasms do not mean you enjoyed or consented to what happened. Someone can tickle you and you can hate it but still laugh.”

    Cleveland Rape Crisis Center,, accessed 6/13/2022; (Broken link removed 8/2023)

  5. What Is Sexual Consent?

    “Giving consent is when you clearly agree to take part in any sexual activity. If someone seems unsure, stays silent, doesn’t respond, or says ‘maybe’ this isn’t consent. Having sex without consent is wrong and illegal. You always have the right to say no to any form of sexual activity. And you can agree to do something then change your mind – everyone has the right to do this, even if you are in a long-term relationship or married. Giving and getting consent may feel awkward. But being able to share what you feel comfortable with will make the experience of sex more enjoyable.”

    Be in the KNOW,, updated 3/31/2022

  6. Why Do So Many Of Us ‘Consent’ To Sex We Don’t Actually Want? Here’s Why Our Sexual Culture Desperately Needs To Change

    “I couldn’t shake the feeling that our sexual culture is in desperate need of change. Change must start with our societal satisfaction that consent is the only metric for sex. Consent is mandatory, but let’s not forget, it’s also the bare minimum.”

    Rachel Thompson,, 10/27/2021

  7. Affirmative Consent

    “Encouraging students to respect each others’ boundaries and to only engage in sexuality that is consensual falls well within the educational mission of institutions. It is only when definitions of consent flip the burden of proof onto the accused during adjudications that there is a problem. If educational institutions want to change culture around sexuality, they may do so through education, but cannot sacrifice the civil liberties of accused students in pursuit of that goal.”

    Foundation for Individual Rights and Expression (formerly the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education),, 10/7/2021

  8. Why We Must Interrogate The Limits Of ‘Consent Culture’

    “A lot of really good consent education acknowledges that consent is ongoing. The fact is that certain men exploit that fact, that if a woman says ‘no’, she might not mean it forever, so they can keep chipping away and coercing them into having sex. People can use that changeability against you. Whereas actually, it should just be accepted as part of life, that there’s nothing wrong with changing your mind. It can be hard for women to say ‘no’ because we know that men can get very angry when they’re rejected. So those slogans are useful, and they have been really useful in developing the conversation about sexual assault and sexual relationships, but they’re really just the tip of the iceberg.”

    Daisy Schofield,, 4/26/2021

  9. What You Need To Know About Sexual Consent

    “How often do you think about consent? Many people think it’s easy, simple and therefore isn’t worth thinking too much about it. But as a society, do we truly understand consent? Poor sex and relationship education combined with confusing love stories that we grow up with make for an awkward terrain to navigate. Most people have sex, yet few of us actually talk about it properly, making the conversation about consent not so simple.”

    Psychology Today,, 2/25/2021

  10. Lets Talk About Yes

    “Sexual consent means that each person freely agrees to join in. Being silent or not saying no is not the same as giving consent. Lack of resistance or clothes do not define consent either. And consent doesn’t mean signing a contract – it doesn’t need to be expressed with words – but it must be explicit and enthusiastic.”

    Amnesty International,, 2/14/2020