Consent and sex go hand in hand. Consent in itself is both incredibly important and completely necessary, but when considering the many different facets of consent, it can be a little tricky to follow. Don’t worry, though; with the help of the trusty interweb, we’ve tried extra hard to give you the low-down on consent, from what consent is and why it’s important, to what consent looks like and how Jonny wants to help you with your own consent conversation.
Consent is used in fields including law, medicine, research and, of course when engaging in any sexual act. The general definition of consent is: “Consent occurs when one person voluntarily agrees to the proposal or desires of another.” Thank you, Mr. Wikipedia. Sexual consent, however, is defined as: “an agreement to participate in a sexual activity.”
Are roses red? Are violets blue? Yep, consent is très important. Consent is a non-negotiable, is both incredibly important and extremely necessary, and is needed for any sexual act. It’s also important to understand that consent is not a one-time thing, and even if you’ve had sex with someone once, this does not mean that someone has consented to all sexual encounters with you in the future.
If you’re not quite following (told you it got a bit tricky), no worries: 1800 RESPECT does a great job explaining consent. They also offer confidential information, counselling and support service 24 hours a day for people impacted by sexual assault, domestic or family violence and abuse.
You can absolutely change your mind after you've initially given consent. Personal consent is not fixed, and your consent can change due to and be dependent on a multitude of different factors, including the situation you’re in, the people you’re with, and how comfortable you feel at any given moment. Consent is fluid and ongoing. Just because you gave your consent earlier in the night does not mean you have to give your consent in the morning.
Considering that 12% of respondents to a 2017 National Community Attitudes towards Violence against Women survey believed that “women often say ‘no’ when they mean ‘yes’”, consent is a bit more complex than the usual “yes means yes and no means no” concept.
Sexual consent is:
Sexual consent is not:
It’s also important to remember that if you’re the one initiating a sexual encounter, you’re responsible for gaining the consent of your sexual partner/s. Oh, and trust your gut: if you have a feeling the person you’re with is no longer comfortable with what is happening, stop and check in. Ultimately, “consent must be freely agreed and positively communicated, either by words or by conduct or a combination of the two.”
As of 2022, the legal age of consent in Australia varies from 16-17, depending on which state you live in. “Education ministers around Australia have agreed to mandate consent education in schools from 2023”, in which schools will teach foundation through to year 10 age-appropriate education regarding consent. What’s more is NSW has recently passed affirmative consent laws wherein consent must actively be given through words or actions. Victoria has also just passed this week affirmative consent laws, meaning a person now must receive clear affirmative consent before they engage in sexual activity.
In order to have safe sex, consent must be given. Safe sex is essentially “any sexual contact you have while protecting yourself and your partner from sexually transmitted infections (STIs) and unplanned pregnancy”. There is no safe sex without consent.
Here at Jonny, we’re all about safe sex. We’ve built a business on the concept. We know consent can be a tricky conversation, so we are always working on ways to normalise these topics. Remember consent first. Jonny second.