Informed. Voluntary. Revocable.
Both parties must give consent before engaging in any sexual activity. Consent is clear, knowing and voluntary. It is active, not passive. Silence, in and of itself, cannot be interpreted as consent. Consent can be given by words or actions, as long as those words or actions create mutually understandable clear permission regarding willingness to engage in (and the conditions of) sexual activity.
- Consent to any one form of sexual activity cannot automatically imply consent to any other forms of sexual activity.
- Previous relationships or prior consent cannot imply consent to future sexual acts.
- Mutually understandable consent must be obtained and maintained by both parties throughout the sexual interaction
- Consent to sexual activity may be revoked at any time, at which point sexual activity must cease immediately.
- In order to give consent, one must be of legal age.
In order to understand consent, it is also important to distinguish force, coercion, and incapacitation:
Force: The use of physical violence and/or imposing on someone physically to gain sexual access. Force also includes threats, intimidation (implied threats) and coercion that overcome resistance or produce consent (“Have sex with me or I’ll hit you." "Okay, don’t hit me, I’ll do what you want.”). There is no requirement that a party resists the sexual advance or request, but resistance is a clear demonstration of non-consent. The presence of force is not demonstrated by the absence of resistance. Sexual activity that is forced is by definition non-consensual, but non-consensual sexual activity is not by definition forced.
Coercion: Unreasonable pressure for sexual activity. Coercive behavior differs from seductive behavior based on the type of pressure someone uses to get consent from another. When someone makes it clear to you that they do not want sex, that they want to stop, or that they do not want to go past a certain point of sexual interaction, continued pressure beyond that point can be coercive.
Incapacitation: a state where someone cannot make rational, reasonable decisions because they lack the capacity to give knowing consent (e.g., to understand the who, what, when, where, why, or how of their sexual interaction).