Consent - when someone freely agrees to engage in a certain act - is a non-negotiable part of sexual activity.
If consent isn’t present, it’s sexual violence.
At its most basic level, consent is about caring if another person wants to engage in sexual activity and respecting their decisions regarding their boundaries, needs, and wants.
People say no in different ways...
“Um, I guess so.“
“Actually, I changed my mind.”
You’ve got to respect that.
There’s also no such thing as implied consent.
It doesn’t matter what someone is wearing, if they are drinking or using drugs, if they were flirting, or if they were sexting.
Anything but a clear, freely given, ongoing YES, means no.
But here’s the thing. For someone to be able to say no, they must have the opportunity and the freedom to do so.
Are there power imbalances? Are they being pressured or coerced? Are they too drunk or too high to consent? Are there consequences if they say no?
Rape culture normalizes sexual violence. It perpetuates false and damaging ideas about what is sex and what is sexual violence. It reframes sexual violence as “non consensual sex”, suggesting that consent is optional.
Let’s be clear - if someone has not consented – it’s sexual violence.
16 is the legal age of consent in Canada, however:
Someone cannot legally consent to sexual intercourse with their parent, child, sibling, grandparent or grandchild. This is incest.
The age of consent is 18 when it involves:
What does the law say about consent and alcohol or drugs? There cannot be consent where the victim/survivor is “incapable of consenting to the activity”. There is, however, no definition of how drunk or high someone needs to be, to be unable to consent. This would be decided by judges/juries if a sexual assault charge makes it to court. The law is clear that all of the parties must be conscious and awake during the sexual activity, even if they consented previously.