As Sexual Assault Awareness Month approaches its end, the importance of healthy sexual relationships remains. Intimacy is more than just sex, it’s being comfortable with a special someone and allowing them to be comfortable with you. But a “yes” to one thing isn’t a “yes” to everything, and it isn’t a “yes” for all the time. So can assault occur after a “yes”? Short answer: yes.
If you are being persistent or pressuring someone to have sex with you, you may be engaging in “sexual coercion.” Sexual coercion is when someone tries to control someone else’s sexual decisions. This can be verbal or physical and can be done in both subtle and blatant ways. Nobody owes you sex just because you bought them something, you have had sex before, you are dating, or because you will react poorly if it does not happen. A pressured or afraid “yes” is not the same as a consensual “yes.” If you do not think that consent is always necessary, then you should not be partaking in sexual relations.
Respect your partner’s boundaries. Both giving and receiving consent is an ongoing process. Just because someone said one action was okay does not mean every action is okay. Additionally, consent is something that can always be taken back. In a healthy relationship, you should have enough communication to not be ashamed or embarrassed if you change your mind. Confused whether something is okay? ASK. But always make sure to do so in a way that is not manipulative and allows the person to feel safe regardless of their answer.
Don’t be that person who complains about denied sex or who challenges consent after receiving a “no.” Don’t continue having sex with someone who wants you to stop. Don’t move on to the next act and expect for someone to just tell you that they are not comfortable with that. They may be too scared to object. Consent is not weird in the bedroom, it’s sexy! An enthusiastic and sober “yes” will only make the experience better – for everyone.
Tomorrow, April 26, is Denim Day. People across the United States will be wearing denim as a way to challenge the misconceptions of sexual assault. Since April of 1999, community members, elected officials, businesses and students are encouraged to wear jeans as a way to protest. By participating you can help educate peers, encourage change and let the secret survivors of sexual violence know that you are there for them. The YES!Always team will be tabling outside of the Joe Crowley Student Union in hopes of spreading the message of consent and to participate in Denim Day. For more information, check out denimdayinfo.org