Do you have trouble understanding what “consent” means in today’s world?

Consent can be a tricky term to understand because there have long been some cultural issues in sway that have muddied the waters. While slogans like, “no means no” have been thrown around for decades, popular culture still tends to bombard us with questionable situations that don’t really reflect the modern notion of “consent.” Far too often, the hero of a movie or novel will press ahead with a kiss even after the heroine refuses him — and is usually rewarded with her melting in his arms.

Not understanding the issue of consent in real life, however, can lead to serious social and legal problems. Consent only occurs when there’s positive communication between two people that it’s okay to proceed with sexual contact or activity.

On the other hand, consent never involves:

  • Ignoring the other person’s refusal of your overtures
  • Deciding that the way that someone is dressed is an invitation for contact
  • Deciding that someone “owes” you after flirting with you
  • Assuming that prior permission for sexual contact gives you an open invitation to do it again
  • Taking advantage of someone who has placed themselves in a vulnerable position through the use of drugs or alcohol
  • Pressuring someone into sexual activity through threats or intimidation
  • Engaging in sexual activity with someone who is underage or legally incapacitated
  • Engaging in sexual activity through deception (by impersonating someone else, like the victim’s spouse)
  • Deceiving the other party about the nature of your act

If you’re fairly new to the dating world, make sure that you understand good boundaries and know the limits of consent. That can help you avoid mistakes that could leave you facing sexual assault charges.