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Header image of a woman and a child's face. The text reads: "Pervasive and widespread, woman abuse and sexual violence harm women of all ages, sexual orientations, racial and ethnic backgrounds, socio-economic classes and religions".

Pervasive and widespread, woman abuse and sexual violence harm
women of all ages, sexual orientations, racial and ethnic backgrounds,
socio-economic classes and religions.

Mobile header containing a woman's face and a child's face. The header contains the following text: "Woman abuse harms women of all ages, sexual orientations, ethnic backgrounds, socio-economic classes, & religions.

2012 May: Only Yes Means Yes

What is Sexy?

  • Sexy is talking about sexual activity with your partner. About how far you want to go. About what you like to do. As well as about what you don’t want to do. About your boundaries
  • Sexy is being listened to by your partner – because that shows caring and respect
  • Sexy is being open and honest. Open and honest communication means being able to say ‘no’, and having ‘no’ accepted and respected
  • Sexy is acknowledging that you and your partner have sexual needs and desires. So it’s normal for women and men to want to have sex. And it’s normal to enjoy sex
  • Sexy is respecting yourself. By being clear and confident about your own personalbeliefs and values. And by standing up for them
  • Sexy is respecting your partner. By acknowledging your partner’s personal values and beliefs. And accepting them
  • Sexy is being informed about how to protect yourself and your partner against HIV and STDs (sexually transmitted diseases), and unplanned pregnancy. And taking responsibility for those decisions

What is Consent? 

  • Consent means permission. Sexual consent means you have a clear “yes, this is OK with me” for every step during the course of any sexual activity
  • Consent to have sex is when both people agree to have sex. But it’s not just allowing something – it’s knowing that you BOTH really want and desire each other
  • Consent should be mutual, voluntary, sober, wanted, enthusiastic, creative and sexy!
  • Consent should never be coerced, implied or assumed, even if you’re in a relationship. Just because you are in a relationship or have had sex before doesn’t mean that you always have consent to have sex with your partner
  • Consent must be talked about and agreed upon; if you want to move to the next level of sexual intimacy – just ask!
  • Consent cannot legally be given by someone who is intoxicated. Someone may be responsible for being drunk, or high, but they are never responsible for being assaulted
  • If you do not ask for consent, you are at risk of doing something the other person doesn’t want you to do. You might disrespect and hurt someone. You are also at risk of breaking the law and facing criminal charges
  • Touching someone’s – breasts, genitals or buttocks – without consent is sexual assault. So is making someone touch you. Any form of sexual activity with another person without her or his consent is sexual assault. If you don’t have consent then you could go to prison for assault

What is Not Consent?

  • Silence, or not responding – is not consent. When someone says “Yes”, because they feel pressured, or are afraid of how their partner might react to a “No” response, it is not consent
  • “I’m not sure if I’m ready.” “I don’t know if I want to.” “I think I’ve had too much to drink.” “I don’t want to get AIDS.” “I’m scared.” – All these statements mean “No”
  • Sometimes, we think we mean one thing when we are saying something else. Here are two examples that are not asking for consent for sex: “Do you want to go back to my place?” (consent only to go back to your place) “Should we get it on?” (unclear exactly what activity is intended).

Why is Consent Sexy?

  • Sex is always sexiest when BOTH partners desire it – without any feelings of pressure, intimidation or fear
  • When someone asks you for consent it shows that they respect you, care for how you feel, and care about what you want – and that’s sexy. Giving them consent shows you want them as much as they want you!
  • Consent is about confident, open, real communication. And, respecting boundaries. The practice of consent will naturally create a more caring, more responsive, respectful love life for you both – and that’s sexy!

How Can You Make Consent Sexy? 

  • Consent is really about communication. It starts with getting to know each other. Finding out what you like and dislike. Learning what you have in common and what is different. Discovering each other’s hopes and fears. Desires and dreams. Sharing how you grew up, who you are now, and your plans for the future. And, if there is a sexual attraction between you, then talking about sex of sexual activity will naturally flow out of this conversation. How important is sex in a relationship? When should you become sexually active in a relationship? What do you want, what are you looking for, sexually? What turns you on? What turns you off? What are your limits? How fast or slow do you want to go? Talking about questions like these can be fun and interesting. And, can tell you a lot about whether you are both sexually compatible. Much better to know this BEFORE you begin a sexual relationship!
  • An important part of this conversation must be about how to protect each other against HIV, STDs, and unplanned pregnancy. And take responsibility for those decisions – act on them!
  • If you are not accustomed to talking with your partner about sex then the first few times you discuss sex may feel uncomfortable and awkward. But, practise makes perfect. Be creative and spontaneous. Don’t give up – the more times you have these conversations with your partner, the more comfortable you will become communicating about sex, the easier it gets!

Will Asking for Consent Kill the Mood?

  • No. It should make you both feel closer and more connected, more respected
  • If the mood can be ruined with a question, it probably wasn’t so hot to begin with
  • The mood is really ruined when your partner feels uncomfortable, disrespected, or unsafe

How Do You Ask for Consent?

You may feel that asking for consent makes sex too formal. But, it doesn’t need to be. It can be very simple, ‘Is this OK with you?’ Or it can be as hot, as creative, and as sexy as you want to make it! Discovering what your partner enjoys doing sexually, then being able to do that for her, or him, can be very sexy.

Communication is sexy!

Asking for consent can be scary. Not asking for consent puts you at risk of hurting your partner’s feelings and perhaps doing something illegal. Here are some ideas of how to ask or check in around consent: 

  • Do you want to have sex?
  • I’m really into you, can I kiss you?
  • Can I kiss you here? What about here?
  • Are we moving at an OK speed?
  • Do you like it when I touch you here?
  • I respect you, so I want to know what you are OK with.
  • Would you like this?
  • Is this OK with you?
  • I really like you and want this to last, so let’s take it slow.
  • Can you touch me over here?
  • This isn’t the right place or time, so let’s wait
  • What do you want?
  • What do you want me to do to you?
  • I want to kiss you and kiss you and kiss you. But let’s leave it there
  • I’d really like to hug / kiss / …… you. Would you like to?
  • Do you like it when I do this?
  • It makes me hot when you kiss / touch / ….. me there. What makes you hot?

“No” Means “No” 

  • ‘No’ means it’s time to stop
  • It doesn’t mean ‘slow down’
  • It doesn’t mean ‘keep trying until I give in’
  • It doesn’t mean ‘Yes, but I don’t want to give in too easily’
  • It doesn’t mean that you should get me another drink
  • ‘You’re not my type’ means ‘No’
  • ‘Please stop’ means ‘No’
  • ‘Don’t touch me’ means ‘No’
  • ‘No’ means ‘No’ and everyone should respect this
  • ‘I’m not sure if I’m ready’ means ‘No’
  • ‘My parents will be home soon’ means ‘No’
  • ‘I don’t know if I want to’ means ‘No’
  • ‘I think I’ve had too much to drink’ means ‘No’
  • ‘I don’t want to get AIDS’ means ‘No’
  • ‘I’m scared’ means ‘No’
  • ‘Not now’ means NO

Non-verbal messages such as lack of eye contact, crossing arms, not responding, or pulling away, can be signs of discomfort also mean no. In this case – stop immediately.

Are You Man Enough to Accept “No”?

  • Sure, it’s not always easy – but you don’t have to make it personal. She might have reasons for saying ‘No’ that have nothing to do with you.
  • Respect, self-control, restraint, caring about the feelings of others – are true measures of a man of strong character

When is it OK to Say “No”?

It’s ALWAYS OK to say no.

  • You may feel you’re not ready for sex in your relationship
  • You may have strong beliefs about sex before marriage
  • You may feel that you want him, or her, as a friend – but not as a sexual partner
  • You may feel attracted to your partner, but you want to go slow
  • Your partner has not been open or honest about their HIV and/or STD status
  • You may have agreed to sex with your partner – but now you feel differently
  • You may not feel sexy right then

You should never feel pressured into giving consent. To anyone. For any reason.

When is it OK to Say Yes?

  • When you are very clear that this is what YOU want
  • When you feel you can trust your partner to respect your decision – even if you change your mind

Help Change Social Norms

  • Act against sexist attitudes, sexual harassment and abuse. By informing yourself. By speaking out
  • By being aware of your own attitudes – blind spots and prejudices – that might be sexist. Relax – we all have them!
  • You can act against sexism, gender prejudice, and homophobia, by not supporting those movies, books, magazines, newspapers, websites, celebrities, public figures, musical groups and performers – that demean or disrespect the rights of others
  • The most basic sexual right is consent – everyone has the right to choose

Need Help?

  • If you think your partner is abusive, or you suspect that someone you know is in an abusive relationship, then you may need to get help
  • Not all abuse involves physical threat – verbal and emotional abuse can also be very damaging
  • Recognizing the warning signs of relationship abuse is an important first step. But taking action is necessary to end the violence
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