With Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, sometimes the memories strike with a viciousness I can only cope with through action. Today, I have made the conscious choice to direct that need for action toward education, in hopes that this step will help keep others safe and aware in ways that I was not.
What is consent?
Consent is an uncoerced, continual yes from a person in their right mind.
Let’s break this definition apart, starting with the words “an uncoerced, continual yes”.
If you ask a person and they say “no”, “I don’t know”, “maybe”, or answer with silence, none of those are a yes. If the person is asleep and ground rules have not already been established of “I am okay with you waking me up through x and y”, it is not a yes. If you then push them repeatedly for a yes, that is coercion, and even though an eventual yes may be achieved, it is still not consent. If consent requires verbal force, it is not consent.
If the person changes their mind once sex starts, even though they originally said yes, that consent is now revoked.
What about when it comes to kink? What if a participant cannot speak (in the case of a gag, etc) or you are role-playing a non-consent situation (consensual non-consent)?
This is where safe words and gestures become important, and I think having both is essential. Sometimes a safe word can be forgotten if a person becomes triggered, and thus, having a gesture available is vital. Make the word or gesture something out of character for the situation, so it is not accidentally said or made without the intent of the situation stopping, and listen to it absolutely.
Next comes “…from a person in their right mind.”
This means if the person is drunk, or high, or their family member just died, or they are leaving a funeral, or in any of a myriad of other situations where people’s judgment is impaired, consent cannot be given at that moment. It doesn’t matter if you are both drunk, or both high, etc. Unless consent was given in a time when both of you were not, and for this specific instance, not a past one, it is not consensual.
Guante says it best in “Consent at 10,000 Feet”: