What Consent Looks Like

Anyone who been to the movies has seen a sex scene-- a steamy, heavy-breathing, under the covers frolic. 

However, few of us have seen a consent scene when one character asks: do you like me touching you, would you like to have sex, do you like ear-nibbling, or would you like to do that again?

During the recent Steubenville trial, the defense attorneys for the boys convicted of sexually assaulting an unconscious girl argued that the absence of a “no” indicated “yes.”   The assault on Steubenville Jane showed clearly that the boys did not understand the principle of consent--and their defense suggested their lawyers did not understand the legal framework of consent, either

Authors of the book, Yes Means Yes, Jaclyn Friedman and Jessica Valenti, discuss a new notion of consent based on yes.  In a recent story in the Nation, they wrote,“…the absence of a 'no' is not the same thing as the presence of a 'yes.' And until American culture and law frames sexual consent as proactively, enthusiastically given, there will be no justice for rape victims. It’s time for the US to lose the ‘ 'no' means 'no' ' model for understanding sexual assault and focus on 'only ‘yes’ means 'yes' ' instead.”  It’s called affirmative consent.  Some also call it enthusiastic consent.

It's clear that not only young people need to learn what consent is, and what it actually looks like; lawyers and judges do, too.

To make that easier, VITAMIN W created this special graphic that shows some steps to getting full, enthusiastic consent.  It won’t fit into a condom pouch, but you can still share it with anyone who might need it.  Which might just be everybody.

Credit:  Image+Language / Jana Marie Soroczak  www.imagelanguage.com


And while we're talking what a consent scene might look like, here are two funny videos that deal with the complexities of getting consent.