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Color Me Sexy: Common Sense of Consent

The reality is that 1 in 3 women and 1 in 6 men in the United States experience sexual violence in their lifetime. It’s time to get everyone on the same page when it comes to consent.

Consent is a voluntary, enthusiastic, and clear agreement between the participants to engage in specific sexual activity. Period.
  • There is no room for different views on what consent is. People incapacitated by drugs or alcohol cannot consent.

  • If clear, voluntary, coherent, and ongoing consent is not given by all participants, it’s sexual assault. There’s no room for ambiguity or assumptions when it comes to consent, and there aren’t different rules for people who’ve hooked up before.

Nonconsensual sex is rape.

Consent is:


Consent is clear and unambiguous. Is your partner enthusiastically engaging in sexual activity? Have they given verbal permission for each sexual activity? Then you have clear consent.

Silence is not consent. Never assume you have consent — you should clarify by asking.


You should have permission for every activity at every stage of a sexual encounter. It’s also important to note that consent can be removed at any time — after all, people do change their minds!


Every participant in sexual activity must be capable of granting their consent. If someone is too intoxicated or incapacitated by alcohol or drugs, or is either not awake or fully awake, they’re incapable of giving consent.

Failure to recognize that the other person was too impaired to consent is not “drunk sex.” It’s sexual assault.


Consent should be given freely and willingly. Repeatedly asking someone to engage in a sexual act until they eventually say yes is not consent, it’s coercion.



You could get right to the point and ask:

  • Can I kiss you?

  • Can I take this off? What about these?

  • Do you want to have sex, or would you like to wait?

  • Can I [fill in the blank]?

You can also take the opportunity to use open communication about sex and boundaries as foreplay. Here are some ideas:

  • I think it’s hot when we [fill in the blank], do you want to do this?

  • It feels so good when you [fill in the blank], do you want to do this?

  • Can I take your clothes off?

  • Can I kiss you here?

If you’re already in the heat of the moment, you could say:

  • Are you comfortable with me doing this?

  • Do you want me to stop?

  • How far are you comfortable going tonight?

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