Consent is the expression of a mutual desire between parties to participate in a sexual activity. Consent is fundamental in creating a sex-positive space, and sexual activity without consent is sexual violence.
Minors, people who are mentally incapacitated or unconscious, and people under the influence of drugs or alcohol are unable to give consent. Consent isn’t always spoken, and it should never be assumed (the absence of a “no” is not a “yes!”). Consent is given without coercion, and can be withdrawn at any time.
Consent is not:
- Someone saying “yes” because they are too afraid to say “no”
- Someone changing their mind about a sexual desire and still being forced to engage in it
Rape culture creates an environment in which sexual violence is prevalent and sexual assault and coercion are normalized. These beliefs are perpetuated through misogynistic language, objectification, and the glamorization of sexual violence, and create a society that disregards rights and safety and places blame onto victims and survivors.
Sex positivity combats rape culture by emphasizing and valuing consent, bodily autonomy, and sexual empowerment as an alternative to slut-shaming and victim blaming. Sex positivity also works to end the social cycle of guilt surrounding sexual activity by deconstructing toxic masculinity, fostering safe spaces for survivors, and pushing back on harmful power dynamics in relationships.