Your body belongs to you.
You and only you get to say what happens or doesn’t happen with it.
Nobody should touch your body in any way unless you say it’s ok. Nobody should pressure you or force you (physically, verbally or otherwise) into doing something with your body that you don’t want to.
Not your parents, not a doctor, not your girlfriend, boyfriend, husband, wife. Not the president or prime minister. NOBODY.
And the same goes for everyone else and their own body.
When you are very young, your parents may have to make certain decisions for you and that’s ok, but even a baby deserves to be treated with respect – for the mum or dad to say “I’m just going to clean your bottom, okay?” or whatever is happening.
Beyond those very early days, giving consent is an active thing; just because you didn’t say “no”, that doesn’t mean the same as having said “yes”.
There has to be a clear yes, verbal or otherwise, the person needs to fully understand what it is they are agreeing to, and be free from any coercion, or else consent has not been freely given.
This applies in all aspects of life, but it is particularly important when it comes to sex. If you are going to have sex with another person, you need to be sure you have their consent, just as they need to seek yours.
It’s also important to understand that consent can be withdrawn. Just because you say “yes” now, that does not mean you are obligated to continue. You can change your mind at any time and anyone you are with should respect that, and act accordingly. That is, they should:
- Stop what they are doing
- Not try to pressure or coerce you into continuing, or try to make you feel bad
It’s your body! And it is your right to decide whether or not you want to do something with it.
This should all be very simple, but sometimes people don’t always seem to understand. This video puts it in terms that hopefully almost anyone can get:
There can be situations where it is ambiguous. One such case is where a person is drunk, or under the influence of other drugs. Clearly, if they have had so much to drink that they have passed out, then they can’t give their consent.
But somewhere between “a bit tipsy” and “so drunk you can’t see straight” there is a point where you stop having a real understanding of the consequences of what you are doing. And that point is different for different people.
The simplest rule is this: if it is at all unclear, if you are not 100% sure the other person is fully aware of what is happening and happy to continue, then don’t do it. That is the best way to be sure no one gets hurt.
And you have a right to expect the same treatment from people around you, if you happen to be the one who has had a few too many drinks or whatever. Of course, it’s not a great idea to get so drunk you don’t have control of yourself, but if it happens for whatever reason, it is not the same as giving consent.