What is Consent?
We like to think that sex and consent go hand in hand, but it just isn’t as black and white as that. I’m sure we all wish it was. Consent can seem like an incredibly grey area, and those who have casual partners will probably have experienced consent less than those in committed relationships. Consent isn’t just “no means no”. Ok? There is a big difference between consensual sex and rape. Consent is defined by Section 74 Sexual Offences Act 2003.
- Someone consents to vaginal, anal or oral penetration only if s/he agrees by choice to that penetration and has the freedom and capacity to make that choice.
- Consent to sexual activity may be given to one sort of sexual activity but not another, e.g. to vaginal but not anal sex. Or with conditions, such as wearing a condom.
- Consent can be withdrawn at any time during sexual activity, and each time activity occurs.
When Else Can’t Somebody Consent?
- Evidence that by reason of drink, drugs, sleep, age or mental disability the complainant was unaware of what was occurring and/ or incapable of giving valid consent; or
- Evidence that the complainant was deceived as to the identity of the person with whom (s)he had intercourse.
- If there’s an assertion of force or threats.
- A boy or girl under the age of 16 cannot consent in UK law.
We’ve All Been There – and if Not – We Know Somebody That Has
In my own experiences that I reflect back on, there’s been some questionable circumstances to which acts have happened. For example, agreeing to have sex with someone if they wear a condom and then them just putting their penis inside you without one on. Not only is the risk of pregnancy now available, but the risk of catching STD’s is too.
Just like this coronavirus, those with a virus can carry it without symptoms, and therefore unknowingly pass it on to somebody else. Condoms don’t protect you 100% from STD’s and pregnancy but it does decrease your risk by a sufficient amount.
When you’re ‘in the mood’, you can sometimes get a little bit carried away with what’s happening but unless you ask for consent/ or consent to unprotected sex – you should not be having it. I haven’t been on contraception for nearly four years on the principle that I don’t like the idea of pumping hormones into my body, or messing with my fertility.
Now lots of women all over the world DON’T take birth control for various reasons, so to prevent any unwarranted mini versions of yourself running around, you should always wear a condom as a double precaution. The condom side of sex is on both individuals, as it takes two to tango, however using the ‘I don’t have a condom’ or ‘I don’t like the feel of condoms’ excuse to have unprotected sex is getting old and frankly quite boring.
On the other hand, if you both distinguish neither of you has a condom and you both still want to go ahead – that is fine. There’s still a risk of STD’s and pregnancy, however a risk you have both agreed to nonetheless. But can men just STOP SLIDING IT IN?! There’s no going back once it’s already in, the damage has already been done, and you feel humiliated asking him to put a condom on once he’s already put it in without. Right?
Consent can come in many forms, as long as both partners know what they’re consenting to, then the act can go ahead. If you’ve agreed to have sex under the conditions of wearing a condom and you dismiss that, and go in dry, that is actually classed as sexual assault and so is removing a condom during intercourse.
Non-consensual condom removal, or ‘stealthing’, is the practice of a man covertly removing or damaging a condom during sexual intercourse, when his sex partner has only consented to condom-protected sex. Such behaviour may be regarded as sexual assault or rape and it is classed as a form of reproductive coercion.
There’s so many things that are actually classed as sexual assault and/or rape, but we don’t want to say the word, so we avoid it and pretend like it’s no big deal. Drunk sex is a big one. We’ve all done it, if not yourself, I bet you know somebody that has been under the influence and has a rapey sex story. Right?
If someone has been sick, can’t talk, or can’t move, you having sex with them is rape. They don’t have any power as to what is going on around them, and you taking advantage of their unconscious state is the actions of those of a sexual predator who deserves to be locked away.
Condoms are Sexy!
It’s sexy when a man gets a condom out because you instantly know he looks after his sexual health or it at least gives you some reassurance that at he is weary of it. Plus it’s a huge weight lifted off your shoulders, because now you don’t have to find the right time to say it, and instigate the use of a condom. Pressuring people to go unprotected is not ok under any circumstances – that too is sexual assault. No excuses. No condom? No sex.
Sex is sex. As long as both parties consent, it’s going to be great with or without a condom. Considering the risks involved – just wear a condom – it saves all kinds of stress!
For a list of rape/sexual abuse & assault helplines available, head over to this link on ITV.