Over the last six months, the #MeToo and #TimesUp movements have opened the floodgates of individuals looking to share their experiences and have genuine conversations surrounding sexual assault, abuse and consent. And it’s important to realize that these conversations are not gender-specific; they should be had among men, women and everyone along the nonbinary spectrum.
For the month of April, Sexual Assault Awareness Month, Hornet has partnered with Planned Parenthood, the largest provider of sex education in the United States, to facilitate a larger conversation around consent. The goal is to provide users with education and resources on how to communicate and practice consent in sexual situations.
In this first part of Hornet’s four-part series, we ask “What is consent?” and why are so many people talking about it now?
“With #MeToo and #TimesUp, there’s more and more movement in this direction of really listening to survivors. By listening to survivors, folks are better understanding what the issues are around sexual violence, and the way one prevents sexual violence is by practicing consent,” says Julia Bennett, Director of Learning Strategy at Planned Parenthood Federation of America.
But what is consent? And does it look different when the situation involves two men as opposed to a man and a woman?
“Consent is by definition genderless,” Bennett says. “It’s about making sure that whoever is involved and engaging in any sexual experience is on board with what’s going to happen and really interested in what’s happening, and making sure everyone’s sexually having a good time.”
When it comes to defining the main tenets of consent, Planned Parenthood has also come up with the acronym FRIES:
Consent is (F) Freely Given, says Bennett. “Consenting is a choice you make without pressure or manipulation or being under the influence of drugs or alcohol.”
It’s (R) Reversible. “Anyone can change their mind about what they feel like doing at any time. So even if you’ve done it before, even if you’re both naked in bed, whatever the situation is, you can always change your mind.”
It’s (I) Informed. “You can only consent to something if you have all the information you need,” Bennett says. “So if someone says, ‘Oh, use a condom,’ and then they don’t, there isn’t actually full consent there.”
It should be (E) Enthusiastic. “When it comes to sex, you should only do what you want to do, not things that you feel expected to do. Everyone should be excited about what’s about to happen,” she says.
And finally, it needs to be (S) Specific. Bennett says, “Saying yes to one thing doesn’t mean you said yes to other things. So consenting to make out is not the same as consenting to sex.”