How Do You Know You Have Consent?

Consent requires knowing, voluntary and clear permission by word or action, to engage in mutually agreed upon sexual activity. Each party has the responsibility to make certain that the other has consented before engaging in the activity. For consent to be valid, there must be, at the time of the act of sexual intercourse or sexual contact, actual words or conduct indicating freely given agreement to have sexual intercourse or sexual contact. A person may be incapable of giving consent by reason of age, threat or intimidation, lack of opportunity to object, disability, drug or alcohol consumption, or other cause. Sex without consent is sexual assault.

Consent is:

  • clear affirmation (words, actions) that create mutually understandable permission
  • voluntary
  • given for each sexual act during an encounter and for each encounter

Consent is NOT:

  • silent
  • passive
  • a lack of resistance
  • given while unconscious or incapacitated
  • transferable — you need consent every time

Brown Students Ask For Consent

Students at Brown University put together a video showing ways to ask for consent and how to recognize when someone is not giving consent.

Let’s talk about sex — and pizza: Al Vernacchio at TED2012

Al Vernacchio speaks at TED2012 on sexual attitudes and compares it to pizza.

Last Updated July 29, 2021