Sunday, 11 September 2016


This is just the beginning of the more serious aspect of my blog. This certainly might interest everyone but definitely applies to all of us some way or another, even if we're not directly affected by it. These posts will not be light reading compared to product reviews or travel blogs but are undoubtedly more important. I find writing these posts the most challenging but the most rewarding, I hope you feel the same reading them. 

Many young, eager and ambitious students are about to flee the nest and begin their new life as university students. Yes, their parents ensure that they have the appropriate sized mattress protector and in my case a wild amount of dilute juice so as to ensure that I didn't have to buy a bottle for the ENTIRE year. We are so equipped to deal with any issue that might arise at university but yet know absolutely NOTHING about Sexual Consent. Most disturbing is the fact that some students, albeit a small number don't even know what Sexual Consent is. 

I thought this would be a good place to start, what is Sexual Consent?
This is the voluntary agreement where there is equal power to engage in a particular sexual act. 

How can we give consent?
There are many ways to give consent, it doesn't have to be verbal but this is the most helpful way to ensure that you and your partner respect each other and ensure that both of you are happy to participate. In sex there is no grey area. The name of this blog 'No means no, not convince me' is also flawed in it's assumption that it is the responsibility of one person to resist or accept. Both individuals involved must be responsible. It is important that in consent it is not all about resistance but about openly and honestly expressing how and when both individuals want things to proceed. This is a vast topic and so I have decided to compile a few tips and guidelines to ensure that people know what consent is, when it is given and how to start the conversation about consent (this is only the tip of the ice berg). 
  1. 1. Consent should NEVER be assumed
EVER. Just because someone comes home with you after a night out does not mean you have a guarantee or justified expectations. Just because they said ‘Yes’ in the club doesn't mean they agree now. Just because someone laughed or smiled when you asked doesn't mean they agree and you have mutual consent. Consent should be explicit and in the ideal situation it is verbal.

2. Consent should be given FREELY 
Consent should ALWAYS be freely given, an enthusiastic, clearly communicated and ongoing YES. No one should feel pressured in any way to agree to something they wouldn’t choose to. This is where the ‘No means no, not convince me’ title of this blog post kicks in. This is not applicable to every scenario but where someone says no, they don’t mean ask me later, try again in awhile or see how it goes after another drink. 

3. Consent can STOP at any time 
Consent can be revoked at ANYTIME - before, in the taxi or during. Sex is not a contract that when you sign up to it, you have to go through with it. This is perhaps the most important point that many people neglect to mention or just don't realise. You can stop and have the right to say NO. The stereotypical situation that when you agree to go home with someone you are agreeing to all kinds of things. NO you are not and can leave or change your mind. Students can feel embarrassed or don't want to voice that they are no longer comfortable or are not happy with progressing to the next level. At the end I'm going to leave some examples of how to say you're not comfortable. 

4. Consent to one act is NOT consent to another
Consent is not transferable. It must be to each and every act. You cannot assume that just because one thing happened, another is going to. An individual may consent to one thing and feel comfortable and not agree to another. 

5. #AskConsent EVERYTIME
This campaign is being pioneered across the country at the minute, ALWAYS #AskConsent. It is necessary to ensure that both individuals are willing and voluntary participants in sex. It doesn’t matter if you have had sex before, are in a relationship or married - always #AskConsent. 

This is crucial to ensure that the act is voluntary and that both individuals are comfortable. It is clear that today young people find it easier to communicate instantly over social networking sights. But weighing up the scales is important, have sex with someone when you’re not ready or don’t want to or feel embarrassed for a second? A lot of young people feel that they are hurting the other person’s feelings but going through with something non-consensual is hurting yourself. I will leave below different examples of how to say no in a gentle but firm way.

Communication is a healthy and very important part of sex. Consent does not have to be verbal but can be physical, through actions or body language. This could be very confusing. If you’re unsure whether someone is definitely comfortable and happy with the situation - STOP! ASK! LISTEN!
  • Are you okay?
  • Are you comfortable?
  • Would you prefer it if we slowed down?
  • Are you sure about this?
  • Are you happy for this to continue?

If someone is struggling and not happy - STOP
If someone is not responding with enthusiasm, they may feel coerced or be complying - STOP
If someone is asleep or falling asleep - STOP
If someone is visibly upset - STOP
If someone is afraid or frozen - STOP

If someone is asleep 
If someone is in a comatose condition due to drugs/alcohol 

If you’re unsure at any time how the other person is feeling or if they are a willing and present participant: #AskConsent!

Serious Guidelines 

  1. The legal age of consent for having sex in the UK is 16 years of age whilst in Ireland it is 17. Anyone who has sex with someone under this age is committing a crime. 
  2. Anyone who has sex with another person without consent is committing a crime. 
  3. Anyone who has sexual intercourse with a person without their consent constitutes rape. 
  4. A person cannot give their consent freely if they are ASLEEP, UNCONSCIOUS or SEVERELY IMPAIRED due to ALCOHOL or DRUGS. 

We can talk enough over social media, TALK about consent, COMMUNICATE. This is so important to ensure that people feel safe, even in a relationship or marriage. Please seek help if you have been affected by any of the above. 

Dublin Rape Crisis Centre: National 24 hour Helpline 1800 77 88 88
Nexus NI: Sexual Abuse Counselling NI 
Belfast 028 9032 6803 
Derry 028 7126 0566
Enniskillen 028 6632 0046

ALWAYS #AskConsent 

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