It’s not that unusual for us to mention enthusiastic consent and be met with a blank look and a “What do you mean by that?” We talk about consent an awful lot. It’s important and we know that it needs to be an ongoing conversation. The idea of consent should be easy, but it’s not always as straightforward as it might seem at first glance.
So what is enthusiastic consent?
Enthusiastic consent is pretty hard to mistake for anything else.
It’s when everyone involved is genuinely happy and excited to be doing what you’re doing.
You can have a “yes” but still not actually have consent. Enthusiastic consent is a very definite yes, yes, yes!
How will I know if I’ve got it?
Look at what’s going on. Is it all coming from you? Are you having to try and convince or cajole your partner into doing what you want to do?
At the heart of enthusiastic consent is communication. Ask and listen.
And don’t just pay attention to their words, what is their body language telling you?
Signs of enthusiastic consent could include making eye contact, actively touching you or pulling you closer, smiling and making sounds of enjoyment.
Things that could flag up that they’re not really into it could be not making eye contact, moving away from you (subtly or not so!), not touching you back, not joining in and not making sounds of pleasure.
And once you’ve got those bits of information then it’s important that you react to them.
Got the green light? Then carry on. Picking up that things aren’t quite right? Then stop and check in.
In fact you need to be checking in anyway, even if you’re confident that things are ok. Everyone has the right to withdraw their consent at any time (and yes, that does include in the middle of sex) and there might not always be an obvious reason why things have changed.
But won’t constantly checking in ruin the mood?
We’re not talking about starting off with a conversation full of legal terms and a two page contract for both parties to sign (though there is an app for that!). And we’re not proposing that everything stops every few moments to make sure that you’re both still ok with what’s happening.
Make it part of it.
“Is this ok?” “Does this feel good?” “Would you like it if…?” “How do you feel about..?” can all be said during the moment, and can actually be very sexy.
And that’s the thing. The best sex comes when everyone involved is really into it and having a good time. And that happens when you’re listening and responding to what your partner is telling you. Enthusiastic consent; it’s what you’re aiming for.