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February 26, 2024
An inside look at Bobby B. Beacon’s insides. Illustrated by Bianca Oppedisano/ Mass Media Staff.
Bobby's Inside Story
February 26, 2024

The Healthy Dose 003: Intro to Consent

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Craig Bidiman, a Health Education & Promotion Specialist at the university, writes a regular column about health and wellness. 

April is Sexual Assault Awareness Month (SAAM), and in preparation for what’s to come this month, I wanted to give a crash course introduction to the concepts of consent and bystander intervention.
Quick content warning:
Some of what I’m about to write might be somewhat uncomfortable for survivors of sexual violence. It might be uncomfortable for others who will read what I’m going to say about consent and feel some sort of way about it and to those of you feeling those sorts of ways—just listen.
The long-standing statistic is that one in four women and one in six men will be the victim of some form of sexual violence during their time in college.
Those statistics are pretty consistent in our country—and that disgusts me.
So I’d like to spend this article discussing how we as humans on this campus can do our part to end sexual violence entirely.
What is consent?
Simply: consent is when someone agrees to do something, or gives permission for someone to do something to or with them.
In the context of sex, consent is when someone agrees to do something sexual with you, or when you agree to do something sexual with someone else.
Okay. Still with me?
Because here is where I might lose some folks—consent must be reaffirmed for anything and everything you do with a sexual partner. And in order to give and receive consent, it must be enthusiastic!
Enthusiastic consent is not “maybe,” or “I don’t know,” or “I’m not sure.”
Enthusiastic consent is “yes.”
If the answer is not “yes,” it’s a no—however, I will accept “sure.” Even then, it might be safe to just check in and make sure before moving forward.
What consent comes down to is communication.
It’s important to talk about what you like, don’t like, and what you’re willing to try—and that might mean someone wants to try it eventually, but not right that moment. And your role as the sexual partner is to NEVER pressure them into doing that thing until they are ready and give you a “yes, let’s try this.”
Now, what is not consent?
Note: this is where I need folks to really pay attention.
Consent is not persuasion.
If you have to persuade your partner into sexual activity, you do not have consent.
If you have to pressure, or even worse, force your partner into sexual activity, you do not have consent. And chances are, you have committed sexual assault.
That’s reality.
If you do not have consent, you are committing sexual assault.
Also, consent cannot be given if someone is intoxicated. Even if BOTH parties are intoxicated, consent cannot be legally given. Even if consent is given at the beginning of a sexual encounter, and then someone becomes intoxicated, it is not legally consent.
This is not a blurred line. This is the fact of how to know how to obtain consent. Consent must be reaffirmed before and during each sexual act. 
It shouldn’t kill the mood, so don’t think of it that way—simply ask, “Can I do this now?” And if you have enthusiastic consent, proceed and do the deed.
But if there is apprehension, do not proceed.
Again, if there is any apprehension, read that sign, heed that message, and stop.
This is very important for maintaining not only a good relationship with your sexual partner, but it will also allow the two of you—or three, or four—to build a lot of respect and care for each other.
One final note:
Consent can be revoked at any time—anyone has the right to rescind their consent at any point during sexual activity, for whatever reason. And it is our job to listen to this and understand that this is okay.
Do not try to persuade, do not try to pressure—just let it go.
Because you listened to the desires of your partner, it will ensure a safe interaction that will possibly even open up the opportunity for further opportunities for sexual activity in the future!
Now, if you’d like to get involved with any of the events for SAAM, know that there is a Film Series happening April 11, showing “Hip Hop: Beyond Beats & Rhymes,” and on April 25, showing “Hunting Ground.” Both films focus on different aspect of rape and sexual violence. Both films start at 5:30 pm in the Integrative Science Complex, Small Science Auditorium 0006.
Also, Take Back the Night takes place on April 28 throughout the Campus Center, so be on the look-out for those events as well!
I have also personally launched a new nonprofit called The Art of Survival, which creates FREE art for survivors of trauma. This is our first month in existence and we are currently sharing the stories of sexual violence survivors.
Next month, May, is Mental Health Awareness Month, and we will open up the project to survivors of suicide attempts and suicide loss, as well as those who survive every day with depression and/or anxiety.
If you feel that you or anyone you know would benefit from this project, please email our organization at [email protected], and feel free to visit www.artissurvival.com for more information.
Be well, take care of each other, and as always, my office (CC 3407) is a safe space for you to come chat about life and existing in the world.