I'm pretty sure we're all familiar with the dishonorable Todd Akin; you know, the one who thinks a woman's body will prevent pregnancies in the event of a rape? Yeah, well he's not the only one misinformed about sex.
Read it and weep. This survey from the Bristol Youth Project has shown that many young men and women still do not understand what 'consent' really means.
Well? What is consent? Good question. First of all, consent is more than just saying yes (or no). If you are not comfortable with having sex with someone, no matter how long you may have known them, you DON'T have to have sex with them. No joke. If you want to stop having sex while having sex, as disheartening as it may be to the other party, you still have the right to call it quits. Sex, like many have said over and over, should be something you cherish or enjoy, not something you must endure.
As for the ones who are a little too pushy about having sex… Stop it right now. There is never at time, ever, that it is okay to force someone into having sex with you. Like, never ever. Rape is very real, and it happens to people all the time. If the other person shows any inkling of NOT wanting to have sex (and yes, that includes: fellatio, cunnilingus, analingus, or anything that involves sexual gratification), then, sorry pal, you've lost your pass. No means no (even if "no" was never said, but implied).
Communication is always important in any relationship involving sex, whether it be a one-night-relationship, or a long-term one. Always communicate what you want and what you don't want. If the feeling isn't reciprocated, well, that's OKAY. If you're not sexually pleasured, that doesn't mean you'll die. That just means you'll be solo for the night… and honestly, we all know it wouldn't be your first time on your own.
For the sake of learning, let's role play.
Assume you've been out at the bar with a few of your friends. One of them has shown previous interest in you before, but neither of you have acted on it. Somehow, the both of you end up at the bar alone. A little drunk, you suggest it's time to take a cab home. Both of you get in the cab, drive to your place, and walk inside. It's too late to walk home, so your friend asks to stay the night; you oblige. You both talk, things get a little heavy, and before you know it, you're putting the moves on. But wait! Are you still drunk? No? That's good, you can make decisions. Cool. Oh, but your partner is still a little out of it? Hmm. Here lies the problem.
To give consent, you need to be ABLE to give consent. Both parties need to be sober & fully capable of letting the other know that "yes, it is okay to have sex with me" (granted, they may be a tad more suave in their wording, but you get the point).
Another point to be made, is body language. Does your partner seem like they want to consent? (Do you want to consent?). Saying just yes or no doesn't cover it. Make sure, before you indulge in any intercourse or sex act that your partner isn't just saying yes to please you; make sure they really do want to have sex. If your partner seems timid, shy, or reserved then they may not be ready. Talk first. Ask questions, and let them know that saying "no" is a real option.
Like I said before, sex should be enjoyable, not something you must endure. If you or anyone you know has been forced/coerced into having sex, then please report it. There are plenty of people out there willing and able to help you or your friends. No one should have to tolerate sexual abuse.
So, to all the previously uninformed young men and women (you too Todd), consider yourself informed & make sure you understand what consent really means.
Jordan is a junior public relations student at University of South Carolina and a member of our SWARM council.