The most important part of any sexual encounter is consent. Consent is the jumping off point of any kind of sexual act. Consent is both simple and complicated all at once. It may seem obvious, but if you look deeper, consent has many components. Silence is not consent. Wearing something sexy is not consent, and neither is consenting to another sex act. Being in a relationship is not consent. Only explicit consent is consent. Consent goes far beyond a simple yes or no.
To remember the components of consent, think of FRIES. No, not the food. FRIES stands for Freely given, Reversible, Informed, Enthusiastic, and Specific. Let's break that down further.
- Freely given
This means not a grudging or worse, fearful yes. This means your partner is fully on board for sex. They want to be with you. If consent is not freely given, it is not true consent. Pressuring someone into a sexual act is not actual consent on behalf of your partner. You also cannot consent if you are under the influence of alcohol or drugs, as you're not thinking clearly.
Consent is fluid. It can be revoked at any time during a sexual encounter. No means no, no matter what has happened up to that no. No means stop, immediately. No ones owe you a sexual act because they agreed to other sexual acts or because you have done it in the past. If you are uncomfortable at any time during sex, your partner should stop immediately as well.
Both of you are on the same page here. You know each other's STI status, relationship status, and what you are consenting to. If there is any lying or even bending of the truth to obtain consent, it is not true consent. Also you should both be informed and follow through on condoms, dental dams, or other forms of protection.
This goes along with Freely Given. You are giving consent in a positive and eager way. You are not being coerced or forced. You are both excited about sex and ready to continue. You should both feel enthusiastic and happy about whatever sexual act you have both consented to. Remember, consent is not the absence of no, but the presence of yes.
This one goes hand in hand with Informed. You know exactly what you are consenting to. This is important. You may consent to one sex act but not another. This is all about boundaries. This means you must know yourself, and your boundaries, before you can give specific consent. You must also communicate these boundaries in a highly specific way. Boundaries must be clear and detailed. Specific is especially important in kink, and goes along with the use of a safe word.
Consent is important and being informed about consent has never been more important. Protect yourself and your partner or partners by being proactive about consent and all it entails. Consent and communication are the basis for a great sex life for you and your partner.