Check back here soon to find links to versions of Let’s talk about Yes in different European countries.
Practical steps in talking about ‘yes’
We’ve created a Toolkit with detailed suggestions to help getting conversations about consent started, which has lots of ideas, information and links to other resources.
Download here <<add link>>
Read on for key talking points in the consent conversation and to bear in mind when making your own contributions for social media.
How to talk (and think) about consent
Why talking about consent and promoting a ‘consent culture’ matters
Talking about consent is an essential step towards debunking the so called ‘rape culture’ that normalises and even justifies sexual violence, including rape, in our societies.
A clear understanding of what sexual consent means can help to prevent rapes and other sexual crimes.
In some countries, open conversations about consent are needed to galvanise support to reform outdated rape laws.
Laws that define rape based on the absence of consent set a clear boundary between consensual sex and rape and contribute to important discussions about sex and consent. So far, only 9 out of 31 European countries have consent-based laws in place.
Unfortunately, misconceptions and gender stereotypes about what constitutes sexual violence and the meaning of consensual sex are widespread.
‘They didn’t say no’; ‘she was asking for it because of her clothes’; ‘they had consented sex last week, therefore, today was also consented’, are some of the too common responses that attempt to blur the understanding of consent.
The consequences of these attitudes are incredibly harmful: victims are not believed, they end up not reporting the rape and perpetrators are excused from the crimes.
In any conversation around consent, whether it is a public talk, a workshop or as part of a social media conversation we must be clear: when it comes to sex, consent is everything and there are no blurred lines.
You can use the following definition:
Meme from https://www.plannedparenthood.org/learn/teens/sex/all-about-consent + see their video: https://www.instagram.com/p/Bw2m5QbF5OI/
- Given freely: Sexual consent must be a voluntary and free choice for all parties involved. Being silent or not saying no is not the same as giving consent. Unconscious people cannot consent. Sex is not consented under coercion or intimidation.
- Informed: Lying or deliberately hiding certain intentions such as unprotected sex is not consensual sex. Getting someone too drunk to refuse sex or to agree to certain practices is not getting consent.
- Specific: Consenting to one thing (i.e. kissing) does not mean consenting to everything else. A general rule is: If in doubt, ask. If you’re still in doubt, stop.
- Reversible: Consenting once does not mean consenting for ever.
- Enthusiastic! The question is not whether a person says “no”, but whether they say “yes”.’ (this is what is called ‘yes means yes’). ‘I don’t know’ doesn’t mean consent.
And remember: Consent is not about signing a contract! It’s about communication and about making sure all sexual activities happen with mutual consent. ‘Demystify’ the awkwardness of talking about consent.
The Family Planning Association in the UK have compiled verbal and non-verbal signs to express consent – or not: https://www.fpa.org.uk/sites/default/files/consent-giving-getting-respecting-leaflet.pdf. And this is what consent looks like for US-based Rape Abuse and Incest National Network (RAINN): https://www.rainn.org/articles/what-is-consent.
The importance of sexual consent can be explained by considering other scenarios in which consent may be important and how they might be analogous to sexual situations:
- Would you eat someone else’s food without asking them?
- Would it be ok to go into someone else’s room/house without asking them? What if you were only going in to tidy up for them, or do some other kind of favour?
- If you bought someone a jumper as a present, would it be ok to make them wear it, or threaten that you will no longer be their friend if they don’t wear it?
A common analogy used to illustrate how sexual consent should work is of making someone a cup of tea. << Embed into page >>
Search ‘tea consent’ or watch the video on YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oQbei5JGiT8