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What Is Affirmative Consent?

* I generally write using the pronouns he/him when referring to narcissists, but females are just as likely to be narcissists or exhibit narcissistic traits. So please don't think just because article uses the word him or he that it could not be a woman in that same role.

When engaging in sexual activity, getting consent is of the utmost importance. You need your partner to be comfortable and willing to perform sexual acts with you, just as you do.

So, what is affirmative consent, and why is it important?

What Is Affirmative Consent?

To find out more about affirmative consent and what it means, we’ve created this guide so you can learn everything you need to know.

What Is The Definition Of Affirmative Consent?

The true definition of “affirmative consent” is as follows:

“Affirmative consent is a knowing, voluntary, and mutual decision among all participants to engage in sexual activity.

Consent can be given by words or actions, as long as those words or actions create clear permission regarding willingness to engage in the sexual activity.

Silence or lack of resistance, in and of itself, does not demonstrate consent.

The definition of consent does not vary based upon a participant’s sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, or gender expression.”

There are also rules that come with affirmative consent that you must abide by when engaging in sexual activity.

These are:

  • Even if it is initially provided, consent can be revoked at any time.
  • When a person lacks the capacity to intentionally choose to engage in sexual behavior, this is known as being incapacitated, and consent cannot be granted. Incapacitation can be brought on by unconsciousness or sleep, being bound against one’s will, or if one is unable to give permission in any other way.
  • Consent to one sexual act or earlier sexual activity between or with any party with their agreement does not automatically imply consent to additional sexual acts.
  • Regardless of whether the person starting the act is under the influence of alcohol or drugs, consent is still required.
  • When it is the product of coercion, intimidation, force, or a threat of harm, consent cannot be given.
  • Sexual activity must end when consent is withdrawn or cannot be provided anymore.

A More Detailed Look At Affirmative Consent

An enthusiastic affirmation is necessary for affirmative, enthusiastic consent.

For example, if you ask your partner, “Do you want to have sex right now?” they can respond “yes,” which is affirmative consent.

It’s important to recognize that consent can be revoked at any point while engaging in sexual activity. Therefore, even if your partner gives their approval, they are free to change their mind at any time.

Prior sexual activity does not constitute consent. Consent cannot be predetermined or given on another person’s behalf; it is only ever given in the present.

Additionally, a person under the influence of drugs or who is unconscious cannot offer their consent.

Exclamatory, conscious, and voluntary sexual consent is known as affirmative consent. It entails verbally expressing one’s readiness to partake in sexual activity of any kind.

In every sexual interaction, consent is a vital way to show respect and provide clarity. When it comes to consent, there is no room for ambiguity; this is what makes it affirmative.

It goes without saying that when it comes to sexual activities, “no means no.” When you say “no,” your sexual partner should interpret that as a rejection and stop.

An alternative kind of policy – one where “yes” truly means “yes” – is offered through affirmative consent.

Affirmative Consent Laws

In the US, affirmative consent has been incorporated into state legislation in an effort to safeguard people from unwelcome sexual behavior.

Many of them are unique to colleges and universities, where sexual assault is a serious problem.

Here, we’ll go through the list of US states and their legislation on affirmative consent.

Statewide high school and college affirmative consent legislation signed by governor

  • California

Statewide campus assault legislation signed by governor

  • Louisiana
  • Indiana
  • Virginia
  • Statewide legislation passed and signed by governor
  • Colorado
  • Illinois
  • New York
  • Connecticut

Statewide or citywide affirmative consent policy under consideration

  • Montana
  • Minnesota
  • Nebraska
  • Iowa
  • Maine
  • Michigan
  • Pennsylvania
  • Tennessee
  • North Carolina
  • Missouri
  • Kansas
  • Arizona
  • Utah
  • Texas
  • Alaska
  • Hawaii
  • New Hampshire
  • Massachusetts
  • New Jersey
  • Maryland
  • Delaware

No statewide or citywide affirmative consent initiative or legislation

  • Rhode Island
  • Vermont
  • District of Columbia
  • Washington
  • Oregon
  • Idaho
  • Nevada
  • Wyoming
  • New Mexico
  • North Dakota
  • South Dakota
  • Oklahoma
  • Arkansas
  • Wisconsin
  • Florida
  • Mississippi
  • Alabama
  • South Carolina
  • Georgia
  • Kentucky
  • Ohio
  • West Virginia

How To Ask For Affirmative Consent

What Is Affirmative Consent?

When it comes to gaining affirmative consent, you need to communicate with your partner and ask them straightforward questions about what they want.

It’s also important to recognize their body language and tone when they respond, as affirmative consent should be enthusiastic.

Before and during sexual activity with your partner, you should do the following:

  • Ask permission before you change the degree or type of sexual activity with questions like “Is it okay if I do this?”
  • Let your partner know that you can stop at any time.
  • Check in with your partner by asking “Is this still okay?”
  • Confirm that there is mutual interest before initiating physical contact.
  • Provide positive feedback when you’re comfortable with a sexual act.
  • Explicitly agree to certain acts by saying “yes” or another affirmative statement.
  • Use physical cues to let your partner know that you’re comfortable.
  • Read your partner’s body language to make sure they are comfortable and at ease.

What Isn’t Affirmative Consent?

Understanding affirmative consent means you need to know what isn’t affirmative consent.

There are many ways your partner can reject or revoke consensual sexual activity, but here are just a few examples:

  • Silence is not consent.
  • Being in a relationship is not consent.
  • Flirtatious behavior is not consent.
  • Consenting to one sexual act isn’t consenting to all sexual acts.
  • Previous sexual encounters is not consent.
  • Kissing is not consent.
  • Dressing in a certain way is not consent.
  • Being afraid to say no is not consent
  • Being passed out is not consent
  • Being intoxicated is not consent.
  • Entering a bedroom is not consent
  • Going on a date is not consent.
  • “Maybe” is not consent.
  • “No” is not consent

All of these scenarios mean that your partner is not giving you affirmative consent.

It’s never a good idea to think that your partner is completely at ease during a sexual encounter. If you don’t get a clear, enthusiastic yes, you shouldn’t move forward.

When Is Someone Unable To Consent?

Incapacitation is the inability to grant consent as a result of the effects of alcohol or other drug usage, as well as other circumstances like lack of sleep, illness, or disability.

When a person is incapacitated, it means they are unable to make rational decisions because they are unable to comprehend the who, what, when, where, why, or how of a sexual contact.

It is not true that drinking or using drugs alone renders a person unable or offers a defense to a charge of sexual misbehavior. Each person experiences alcohol and/or drug use differently.

Affirmative consent is violated when someone who knows or should know that another person is incapable participates in sexual intercourse with them.

Final Word

Communication, honesty, and respect should be the foundation of all sexual interactions. Asking for and getting affirmative consent can demonstrate respect for oneself and one’s sexual partner.

Affirmative, enthusiastic consent seeks to guarantee that each individual provides sincere, voluntary consent to proceed during a sexual encounter.

This is essential in order to guarantee that each person receives the respect that all people are entitled to.

Read More about Narcissist Abuse and Domestic Violence

Emergency Numbers

Rape Abuse and Incest National Network (RAINN) is the nation’s largest organization fighting sexual violence: (800) 656-HOPE / (800) 810-7440 (TTY)

988 Mental Health Emergency Hotline: Calling 988 will connect you to a crisis counselor regardless of where you are in the United States.

911 Emergency

The National Runaway Safeline: 800-RUNAWAY (800-786-2929)

Self Abuse Finally Ends (S.A.F.E)

American Academy of Child & Adolescent Psychiatry, Trauma & Child Abuse Resource Center

Domestic Violence Shelters & Resources

Futures Without Violence

National Center for Victims of Crime

National Coalition Against Domestic Violence

National Network to End Domestic Violence

National Sexual Violence Resource Center

Prevent Child Abuse America

Stalking Prevention, Awareness, and Resource Center (SPARC)

National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) HelpLine: 1-800-950-NAMI, or text “HELPLINE” to 62640. Both services are available between 10 a.m. and 10 p.m. ET, Monday–Friday

National Domestic Violence Hotline: 1-800-799-7233

National Suicide Prevention Lifeline: 1-800-273-TALK (8255); www.suicidepreventionlifeline.orgOr, just dial 988

Suicide Prevention, Awareness, and Support: www.suicide.org

Crisis Text Line: Text REASON to 741741 (free, confidential and 24/7). In English and Spanish

Self-Harm Hotline: 1-800-DONT CUT (1-800-366-8288)

Family Violence Helpline: 1-800-996-6228

American Association of Poison Control Centers: 1-800-222-1222

National Council on Alcoholism & Drug Dependency: 1-800-622-2255

LGBTQ Hotline: 1-888-843-4564

National Maternal Mental Health Hotline: 1-833-TLC-MAMA (1-833-852-6262)

The Trevor Project: 1-866-488-7386 or text “START” to 678678. Standard text messaging rates apply. Available 24/7/365. (Provides crisis intervention and suicide prevention services to lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer & questioning—LGBTQ—young people under 25.)

The SAGE LGBT Elder Hotline connects LGBT older people and caretakers with friendly responders. 1-877-360-LGBT (5428)

The Trans Lifeline is staffed by transgender people for transgender people:
1-877-565-8860 (United States)
1-877-330-6366 (Canada)

Veterans Crisis Line: https://www.veteranscrisisline.net

International Suicide Prevention Directory: findahelpline.com

The StrongHearts Native Helpline is a confidential and anonymous culturally appropriate domestic violence and dating violence helpline for Native Americans, available every day from 7 a.m. to 10 p.m. CT. Call 1-844-762-8483.

‘Find a Therapist’ Online Directories

Canada

UK & Republic of Ireland

  • Emergency: 112 or 999
  • Hotline: +44 (0) 8457 90 90 90 (UK – local rate)
  • Hotline: +44 (0) 8457 90 91 92 (UK minicom)
  • Hotline: 1850 60 90 90 (ROI – local rate)
  • Hotline: 1850 60 90 91 (ROI minicom)
  • YourLifeCounts.org: https://yourlifecounts.org/find-help/

Emergency Numbers

Rape Abuse and Incest National Network (RAINN) is the nation’s largest organization fighting sexual violence: (800) 656-HOPE / (800) 810-7440 (TTY)

988 Mental Health Emergency Hotline: Calling 988 will connect you to a crisis counselor regardless of where you are in the United States.

911 Emergency

The National Runaway Safeline: 800-RUNAWAY (800-786-2929)

Self Abuse Finally Ends (S.A.F.E)

American Academy of Child & Adolescent Psychiatry, Trauma & Child Abuse Resource Center

Domestic Violence Shelters & Resources

Futures Without Violence

National Center for Victims of Crime

National Coalition Against Domestic Violence

National Network to End Domestic Violence

National Sexual Violence Resource Center

Prevent Child Abuse America

Stalking Prevention, Awareness, and Resource Center (SPARC)

National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) HelpLine: 1-800-950-NAMI, or text “HELPLINE” to 62640. Both services are available between 10 a.m. and 10 p.m. ET, Monday–Friday

National Domestic Violence Hotline: 1-800-799-7233

National Suicide Prevention Lifeline: 1-800-273-TALK (8255); www.suicidepreventionlifeline.orgOr, just dial 988

Suicide Prevention, Awareness, and Support: www.suicide.org

Crisis Text Line: Text REASON to 741741 (free, confidential and 24/7). In English and Spanish

Self-Harm Hotline: 1-800-DONT CUT (1-800-366-8288)

Family Violence Helpline: 1-800-996-6228

American Association of Poison Control Centers: 1-800-222-1222

National Council on Alcoholism & Drug Dependency: 1-800-622-2255

LGBTQ Hotline: 1-888-843-4564

National Maternal Mental Health Hotline: 1-833-TLC-MAMA (1-833-852-6262)

The Trevor Project: 1-866-488-7386 or text “START” to 678678. Standard text messaging rates apply. Available 24/7/365. (Provides crisis intervention and suicide prevention services to lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer & questioning—LGBTQ—young people under 25.)

The SAGE LGBT Elder Hotline connects LGBT older people and caretakers with friendly responders. 1-877-360-LGBT (5428)

The Trans Lifeline is staffed by transgender people for transgender people:
1-877-565-8860 (United States)
1-877-330-6366 (Canada)

Veterans Crisis Line: https://www.veteranscrisisline.net

International Suicide Prevention Directory: findahelpline.com

The StrongHearts Native Helpline is a confidential and anonymous culturally appropriate domestic violence and dating violence helpline for Native Americans, available every day from 7 a.m. to 10 p.m. CT. Call 1-844-762-8483.

‘Find a Therapist’ Online Directories

Canada

UK & Republic of Ireland

  • Emergency: 112 or 999
  • Hotline: +44 (0) 8457 90 90 90 (UK – local rate)
  • Hotline: +44 (0) 8457 90 91 92 (UK minicom)
  • Hotline: 1850 60 90 90 (ROI – local rate)
  • Hotline: 1850 60 90 91 (ROI minicom)
  • YourLifeCounts.org: https://yourlifecounts.org/find-help/

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