Practice Consent

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As a reminder, when we think of consent, think of FRIES. Consent should be:

Freely Given: Consent should be given without pressure, force, or under the influence of alcohol or drugs.

Reversible: You can change your mind about what you want to do at any time -- even if you are in the middle or have done it before.

Informed: You should know exactly what you are giving consent to.  For example, if someone says they are going to use a condom and they don’t, they didn’t have your consent.

Enthusiastic: Someone should be excited to give consent. If someone is not sure, it is always better to wait. Pay attention to body language as well as what the person is saying and how they are saying it.

Specific: Saying yes to one thing does not mean you have said yes to other things. Consent should be given at every step.

We all know that someone must give consent in any kind of sexual situations but where else do we use consent? Practicing consent in our daily lives can make it easier to ask for and give consent in any context. Think about how you would give or get consent in these situations and then practice the next time they come up!

  • Borrowing something from a friend-If you simply take a pen, article of clothing, or something else from our friend, that would not be cool. Instead we use consent and ask if we can borrow something before we take it. Thinking about our FRIES acronym, someone might want to be informed and know how long you are borrowing something and consent should be specific- just because you have used it before does not mean you have the OK to use it now. Practice giving and getting consent before borrowing from your friends!
  • Doing an activity with a friend – If you want to hang out with a friend you can’t just assume they are available and interested. Instead you get consent and ask them if they are free and interested in the activity you have in mind. The consent is reversible because if something comes up, they have the ability to cancel or reschedule. You also want to make sure you friend is enthusiastic about the plan!
  • Sharing information about someone else- If someone shares something with you like a secret, personal information, or comes out to you, you should keep that information to yourself unless you have their permission, or consent, to share it. That consent is specific because they may tell you that you can share it with one person or a few people but not everyone and you should make sure to respect what they tell you.
  • Touching someone else’s body- We should practice consent any time we touch someone else’s body. If you want to give someone a hug or high- five, make sure that they are ok with it. It is important to make sure they are enthusiastic and don’t feel pressured to say yes. Simply ask them something like “can I give you a hug?” or “do you want a high-five?” and make sure you listen to their response.
  • At the doctor – There is something called informed consent where someone must know the potential risks and benefits for any sort of medication, vaccine, or medical procedure. If you start a birth control method or get the HPV vaccine, you will give informed consent before the doctor can move forward (interested in a birth control method or the HPV vaccine? Find a clinic near you!). Remember that you always have the right to say no to something and you can make sure you are informed before saying yes or no.

Where else to you give or get consent? Practicing consent in everyday situations will make it easier when you have to ask for consent in a sexual situation.