We need to talk about consent

Opinion columnist Brenna Wolfe discusses the benefits of having conversations about sex and consent with one’s partner in order to prevent future “#MeToo” moments.


Opinion columnist Brenna Wolfe discusses the benefits of having conversations about sex and consent with one’s partner in order to prevent future “#MeToo” moments.

BRENNA WOLFE, Opinion Columnist

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While we are in the #MeToo Movement, we need to talk about sex and consent.

How do we avoid sexual violence? By creating a culture where the expectation is that individuals will discuss their wants and respect their partners’ wishes.

For starters, before engaging in sexual activity, you should have an understanding about anatomy and birth control options.

For anatomy, most people know the male genitalia fairly well. However, a lot of people (including women), don’t know what’s going on “down there” for the female genitalia.

Consensual adults should understand not only their body (either through education or exploration), but also their partners.

The next topic that is very important for sexual activity is the knowledge of protection options. You should be looking for ways to protect yourself from sexually transmitted infections (STI) and pregnancy. I recommend double-tapping for birth control.

Use birth control pills for pregnancy and condoms for STIs. Or any other combination. Not only do you need protection for sex, but you need to have a conversation about what to use. You cannot assume that your partner is using condoms or is on the pill.

To open dialogue, try asking questions like:

• Are you on the pill?

• What type of birth control are you using?

• I am going to use a condom, is that cool with you?

Once you have established the basic knowledge about sex and had a discussion about protection, you need consent.

Some people get all huffy with the word “consent,” saying things like “Consent isn’t sexy! It ruins the mood. What if I just know? Their body language says it’s good!”

While I agree that body language is important in understanding your partner’s desires, a verbal confirmation is necessary in order to engage.

It’s not that hard to ask for consent! Here are some ways to ask:

• Do you want to make out?

• How far do you want to go?

• Can I go down on you?

• Do you like this?

• Can you put protection on first?

• Do you want to ___?

• Can we try something new?

• Are you okay?

A lot of us do these check-ins and don’t realize that this is consent discussion.

Consent is only for that moment in time. If they said yes for doggy-style on Tuesday, that doesn’t mean that they want to do that position on Wednesday.

Whenever you agree to try new things, it’s important to have a discussion about how each partner liked or disliked that.

For example, if your partner agreed to receive oral sex on Friday, that doesn’t mean that they want that on Saturday.

Ask every time, especially if this is a new sexual relationship.

Consent can change or be taken away. If you ask “Are you okay?” and they want to stop or slow down, you need to respect their wishes.

Consent is not an end-all, be-all, though. Keep checking in on your partner; that’s how great sex happens.  

You may be in a long-term relationship and be thinking “Seriously? Every time?” Not necessarily.

If you have conservations with your partner about your sex life often, you can discuss how you want your consent talks to look like. Some people want to be asked every time, and you need to respect that.

Others know that their partner can interpret their body language. As long as those conversations are happening, everything is great. Each couple is different.  

By having open and honest conversations and educating each other about sex, consent and protection, we can create a new culture where everyone feels respected.

Maybe if young boys hear these conversations and learn to respect women’s bodies, there would be less “#MeToo” moments.