There cannot be too many conversations about consent — especially since so many schools skip the topic entirely with abstinence-only education. Consent, however, might be the single most important topic to learn before entering a physical relationship.
Here to talk about consent is certified sex educator Q Wilson and O.school digital marketer Christina Cerqueira.
Consent should be an ongoing conversation meant to foster an environment where partners feel safe saying what they’re into and not into, and where they know they can say “no” or “stop” at any time. Simply put, “Consent is to give permission for something to happen.”
While the concept seems easy enough, Q points out that a lack of education, societal messages about what should happen in the bedroom, ideas about power dynamics, etc.,can complicate our understanding of consent.
For this reason, learning to communicate about it in ways that are comfortable for you is important — whether you decide to talk about consent before sex or during, or whether you decide to make it a formal conversation or a sexy “Mother May I”-type game, or something else. There are so many ways to talk about consent.
Wilson and Cerqueira go on to answer other questions about how to talk about consent, such as if it can be a negotiation, whether it’s best to have the conversation before or during a physical act, how to talk to about a past sexual assault with a partner, how to make conversations about boundaries ongoing, and what enthusiastic consent means.
Most importantly, it’s never too early to start teaching and modeling consent. For example, ask a child, even a family member, if it’s okay to give them a hug. This sends a message that your body is your own, and you don’t owe anyone access without permission.
In this sense, consent is about so much more than sex.