Wondering what this enthusiastic consent thing is? Before we start talking about the topic, let’s take a moment to understand what we mean when we simply talk about consent. It is defined as any agreement, whether verbal or nonverbal, which can be expressed explicitly through words or attitudes, to engage in a sexual relationship. It ensures that all persons involved do so freely and consensually. This consent must be reconfirmed at every sexual encounter, regardless of whether there is trust or whether we have been in a romantic relationship for ten years;
It is inherent to affective-sexual relationships that are pleasurable and healthy. However, for such pleasure and health to exist, it must also be desired. Hence the concept of “enthusiastic consent” arises, which goes beyond the limits of sexual consent and its clear expression, adding the requirement that it be enthusiastic and involved.
Risk and risk management
Although not in all sexual contexts there may be clear prior communication, consent is expressed through attitudes that are sometimes only understandable under the knowledge of cultural codes.
In cases where there is a previous communication channel, it is important to communicate and reach agreements on various topics so that everyone feels comfortable:
- Set limits on sexual practices.
- Agree if there is an intention to involve third parties.
- In the case of BDSM or others involving domination/submission roles, agree on a safety word or action beforehand so as not to cross boundaries. It is important that there is prior trust.
- Agree on what preventive methods and strategies to use, such as using condoms, sharing lubricants or sex toys, and setting limits on hygiene.
- Plan a space and make sure you can maintain a good state of hydration, nutrition and rest if necessary.
During a sexual practice, it is important to foster a clear communication and continue to make sure all parties involved are comfortable and consenting to what is happening. Here are some examples of questions or expressions that can be used to express consent:
On the part of the inserter:
- “Do you like it like this?”
- “Is it okay like this?”
- “What else do you like?”
- “May I continue?”
- “Tell me if you want me to stop or do something different.”
On the part of the receptive person:
- “Could you make it softer?”
- “Could you make it stronger?”
- “I love it when you make [especificar acción].
- “Keep it up, I love it.”
- “If I need a break or want a change, I’ll tell you.”
These are just some suggestions, it is relevant to adapt them to the context and practice being carried out;
Identifying nonverbal signals of consent can be important to ensure that all parties involved are comfortable and consenting in a situation. Verbal communication is the clearest and most direct way to obtain and confirm consent. However, attention needs to be paid to nonverbal cues, as these also indicate consent. These signals can vary depending on the person and the context, so it is essential to consider body language and signals specific to each person. Here are some possible nonverbal signals of consent:
- Positive body language: Pay attention to the other person’s body language. If they are relaxed, show an open posture, have eye contact, smile and appear receptive;
- Active response: If the person actively participates in the activity, shows enthusiasm, gets involved and responds positively.
- Initiative: Whether the person takes the initiative to move forward in the activity, such as approaching, touching, or participating more actively.
- Affirmative nonverbal communication: Observe if the person nods, smiles, expresses pleasure, uses gestures that indicate agreement or interest.
- Physical contact: If the person initiates or responds to physical contact, such as hugging, kissing, or touching, in a positive manner and without showing discomfort.
The decisions you make at the beginning about what you want to do may change throughout the session; A person should not feel bad about it or about not meeting external expectations, but rather respect his or her own decisions and those of others. It is important to have some clear aspects that allow you to review how the other person feels or what needs may arise during the encounter:
- Silence should not be assumed to be a sign of consent. It is essential to maintain open and respectful communication, where both parties actively express their wishes, limits and preferences;
- If a safe word is not agreed uponin BDSM practices or involving dominance/submission roles, it is important to respect the communicated boundaries and stop if there are expressions of displeasure.
- Ask for breaks as often as necessary or offer them; After the break, you can also communicate or ask if any changes are desired, either in intensity or in practice;
- If you are experiencing your limits or new practices, it is preferable to do it with people you trust and always from pleasure and care.
- Insistence and pressure in the face of a refusal can be experienced in a violent way by people, as it represents harassment.
- Disrespect for signs of lack of consent and refusal to stop at signs of difficulty or lack of capacity on the part of the other person are assaults and constitute sexual violence.
- If you observe an abusive situation towards another person, take action! Talk to the parties involved or, if necessary, seek help.
Sometimes, it may be difficult to match again if the encounter has taken place under specific circumstances. There are situations where it may be easier or the opposite may be true, and it may never be repeated. It is even possible that one party may wish to repeat while the other does not. However, it is important to keep in mind that insisting more than you should may be violent to the other person and may be a reason for not wanting to repeat.
In combination with drugs
Substance use can affect our physical and mental state. In some people, moderate consumption of certain substances can cause sexual disinhibition or arousal. However, excessive consumption of certain substances or the combination of drugs can leave people in a state of incapacity or reduce their ability to make decisions. In addition, in some people, the use of certain drugs may cause irascibility, aggressive attitudes or behavior, or overreactions. It is important to keep in mind that drug use never justifies aggression;
To avoid unpleasant situations, it is advisable to take into account the following recommendations:
- Agree on limits beforehand regarding substance use and routes of administration. The same may apply to the use of apps or any other related media.
- If you intend to use, but don’t have the drugs, make sure the other person is able or willing to provide them to you.
- Grow a care network. Try to be accompanied or plan meetings with people you already know. If this is not possible, let someone you trust know where you will be. In case something goes wrong, it will make it easier for someone to help you;
- If you or the other person is unsure about something, if there is discomfort, if someone is exhibiting strange behaviors, unresponsive to stimuli or unconscious, STOP!
It is important to remember that consent in the context of Chemsex implies mutual pleasure and care between the people involved. If there is no consent, it is sexual violence and is a crime. Respect, clear communication and explicit consent are essential to ensure healthy, safe and consensual sex;
Material prepared in collaboration with gTt-HIV, the contents have been created from the groups held in Madrid and Barcelona, known as Safe-gTt Group. The creation of this material has counted on the participation and review of the users involved. Their contribution and input have been fundamental for its development.
Study used as a starting point for the realization of this material. Situations of sexual violence occur in any leisure space, this study investigates the specific characteristics of this type of violence that can also occur in Chemsex environments;