Consent? That's easy! Right?
Yes! Consent can definitely be easy. Unfortunately, if everyone had a solid understanding of consent, the rates of sexual assault and rape would drop dramatically. Since 1 in 4 women and 1 in 6 men will experience sexual assault in their lifetime, clearly there are still misunderstandings about consent. This section will detail what consent looks like and hopefully answer all of your questions about consent!
The State of Colorado defines consent as:
- Cooperation in act and attitude
- Exercise of free will
- Knowledge of what's happening
You must have all three components from the other person in order to obtain consent. Without consent, any sexual act is sexual assault.
"But I get mixed messages all the time!" Totally. There can be times where people are unsure about what they want. However, it is your responsibility to stop and ask if you feel like you are getting mixed signals. If they are unsure, then you DO NOT have consent.
"It sounds like asking for consent would kill the mood..." It might. But it certainly doesn't have to. There are tons of sexy ways to ask for consent. Check out these Rams showing off how they ask for consent at one of our Consent Turns Me On events!
Consent is sexy! And exciting! And it's really important to understand that once consent is given, it can be taken back as well. You can do your part by respecting those boundaries and keep yourself and others safe!
"Awesome! I got consent for a make-out sesh. I'm gonna have sex tonight!" Not so fast. Just because someone consented to one thing, it does not mean you have consent for everything afterward. Continue to check in, and definitely respect your partner's (or partners's) boundaries. This is especially important with your intimate relationships (girlfriend, boyfriend, partner, husband, wife, friend with benefits, etc). Every sexual interaction requires consent regardless of you relationship status. Your partner never owes you sex.
"Wait... If both people are drunk, who is charged with sexual assault?" Great question. Colorado law states that the person performing the action is charged. The person who initiates sexual contact is at fault. A good analogy is this: When a drunk driver hits a pedestrian on the sidewalk, we never ask if the pedestrian was drunk because the driver caused the accident. Same thing with sexual assault. Whoever initiates and causes the incident is charged with the crime because the victim/survivor cannot give consent.
"There seems to be a lot of grey areas here." Nope. You either have consent from the other person or you don't. If they are drunk or high, they can't give consent. If YOU are intoxicated, you can't give consent. If you are not sure, double check. Hopefully this makes consent much more clear! No blurred lines from us.
Check out our Red Whistle Brigade, who do an incredible job of digging deeper into understanding consent:
If you have any further questions about consent, feel free to email us at firstname.lastname@example.org