Consent is a huge concern in a woman’s life (in everyone’s life really, but the fear of violation is usually most prominent in the lives of female and feminine people) and in recent discourse the term ‘consent’ is treated more like a buzz word than a meaningful concept. But even if we cannot change overarching discourse overnight, we can change small moments in our everyday lives, and through practicing good consent we can better understand when ours is violated and we can demonstrate to those around us how we would like to be treated.
#1 Always Ask Before You Touch
It doesn’t matter if you want to kiss a potential lover or hold hands with a longterm partner or play with a non-sexual friend’s hair, always ask first. The touch doesn’t have to be sexual or romantic; regardless of your relationship with a person, another person’s body is theirs alone and they have the right to decide if and when someone has physical contact with it.
#2 Ask If Someone Has Time Before Beginning A Long Conversation
Sometimes you need to rant or vent or just have a great, thorough talk on the phone or over text, and there is nothing wrong with wanting to tell a friend a long story. By asking if/when the other person can talk, you show that you respect their time and you understand that they might not be engaging with the world at the exact moment that you are.
#3 Respect The No Even If You Wanted A Yes
Regarding sex, regarding doing a specific activity with someone, regarding sharing a work or school project. If someone says no to you, even if they had previously said yes and even if you were really hoping for a yes, always respect the no. No doesn’t mean you try to bribe or convince someone, though if they are willing to discuss why they said no (for example, if they just really don’t like that seafood restaurant you suggested) you might be able to better understand them and perhaps make more mutual plans together in the future.
#4 Avoid Big Surprises
Surprising your roommate with a burrito after she gets home from work is sweet and considerate. However, big surprises (like a new pet, rearranged furniture, or even in some cases a massive surprise birthday party) don’t allow the other person any say in something that affects them. It’s best to make big decisions with someone as opposed to for someone.