Below are common health related questions that Jenn, Shafia and HIPE receive, we wanted to provide a space for easily accessible answers. If you have a question, click the box above to ask!
Do those rubber chickens have real-time consent to be where they are? And can the topic of consent in the moment versus consent prior to consensual activity be explained a little bit more?
Consent is an agreement between people who are of the same mind - both understand what's proposed and accept whatever is agreed upon. It protects people and keeps them emotionally and physically safe. In a consensual relationship (two people relating to each other in some way) both people communicate about how they want to be treated and listen for how the other person wants to be treated. Both people pay attention to the other's wants and needs, and work together to treat each other with dignity (like they have self-worth or value). There is mutual respect. Respect is treating someone how they want to be treated. This contributes to the context (what's going on with someone internally and what's going on in the external environment they're in) of consent in a moment.
In a sexual relationship (whether its established or a hook up) sometimes people will talk about what they want to do sexually before it actually happens. This is a good thing as long as the context is consensual (wanted and welcome) and even better if it's in person. It's an opportunity to express desires and limits. However, people have the right to change their mind, and sometimes the context of sexual activity in a moment ends up feeling different or isn't what someone expected. There are lots of variables that make up the context of a sexual situation and they may shift and change while sexual activity is happening. That's why consent needs to be acquired in the moment and be ongoing. It can also be revoked at any time. Consent cannot be given while someone is incapacitated (drunk) by drugs, including alcohol. Every time someone initiates a new level of intimacy (i.e. going from grinding to taking clothes off), the person who initiates the move needs to acquire the other person's consent. They can pause in the moment and say, "this okay?" or "you good?" or "how would you feel about taking this off?"
If the person says yes, go for it; however, if the person being asked seems hesitant in any way (even if they say 'yes'), is drunk, or not responding to your touch in affirmative ways (like moving towards you, making pleasurable noises etc) then stop what you are doing and ask what's up.
If you are the person being asked for consent and you want to give it, do so enthusiastically (help take your shirt off, guide them to what feels good), if you are unsure, say so, and if you want, suggest something else; if you don't want to, you can say 'no' or 'let's just stay like this' or express what you'd like to do instead and figure out what you do want. If you say 'yes' to something and it starts to be uncomfortable or you don't want it anymore, you can revoke consent, or say something like, "this doesn't feel right, let's stop." The person you are with should stop.
Sexual communication is normal, natural and important when people are exploring each other's bodies and sexuality. If something feels awkward (because real-life sexual activity gets awkward sometimes) simply acknowledge it, laugh about it (not at the expense of your partner, of course), and move through it. Consent is what makes sexual activity legal and is most important because it protects the fundamentals of human dignity. Remember though, it doesn't make the sexual activity ethical (taking into account the well being of the people involved) or 'good' (pleasurable and satisfying for both people). Ethical and 'good' sexual activity requires healthy sexual communication and context. That's ultimately the healthy sexual exploration to aspire to because everybody deserves it to be good - it should be good!