I normally don’t write much on Feb 14th. My own history with it is … complicated. It involves a violent relationship in which my abuser left me on the 14th thinking it would hurt me. Instead I had to conceal my relief. I was actually so convinced that I would be murdered by that partner that I still celebrate the 14th each year as my “Freedom Day”. Often the celebration is tiny, or private, but it’s not meant to be witnessed. The day is for me alone.
That said, a large number of people do celebrate romance on the 14th of February. For those people I thought I’d bring back something created by a collaborative effort of a number of Pharyngula Hordemembers, but really led and organized by our beloved and now departed Caine: our Crystal Clear Consent guidelines. (Thread where these guidelines were created is here. Search for Consent and/or Caine and you’ll get most of the conversation.) For all those people who want better and more ethical sex lives, you can thank Caine in significant part for the wisdom she collected on sexual consent.
Go forth and sexify:
CCC (Crystal Clear Consent)
- First of all: Understand that if you go forward with initiating sexual activity not knowing if consent exists, you may or may not be raping someone, but you have proved beyond a shadow of doubt that you are willing to rape someone. Black areas make you a rapist, grey areas make you willing to rape.
- Making absolutely sure that consent is obtained and mutually agreed on. This does not include trying for consent when a person is not in condition to grant consent.
- No doubts as to whether consent was obtained.
- No guesses as to whether consent was obtained.
- No assumptions as to whether consent was obtained.
- No doubt as to whether any partner was capable of giving consent at the time.
Crystal Clear Consent includes Fully Informed Consent.
Consent granted under deception is not CCC, it is manufactured consent.
- If you use deception to gain sex–impersonating another person, lying about contraceptive use, failing to disclose STDs–you are denying your partner the right to fully informed consent.
- If you are not sure whether or not you have an STD, disclose this uncertainty. If consent is granted, take responsibility and use protection. Just because you didn’t know for sure is not a defense.
- If you whine and wheedle about using protection a/o contraception, you are not in CCC territory. You are willing to rape.
- Lying about or withholding information that, if known, would’ve resulted in dissent is rape.
- If you consent to X activity under Y conditions and the other party changes those conditions to Z, then you have not consented to what is happening.
Crystal Clear Consent Practices
Understanding that consent may be withdrawn, by any involved party, at any time. Initial consent does not mean you get to carry on if consent has been withdrawn. In other words, people are allowed to change their mind at any point.
- Consent that is not communicated is not CCC.
- If you have not had sex with a given person before, mutually understood language with confirmation is the best way to attain Crystal Clear Consent. Relying on body language or assuming consent without clarification is nearly always insufficient with a new partner. As you get to know your partner(s) better, you will get better at reading nonverbal / nonlingual cues, but clear communication is still absolutely necessary. It is important to remember that rape can still be committed within the confines of a relationship, at any stage.
- If your partner is communicating something, do not assume that it has nothing to do with consent.
- If you initiate or offer and are declined in the context of a specifically romantic, sexual, or flirtations setting, do not initiate or offer again until one of the following four occur:
- the other party has taken a turn initiating/offering and been declined by you.
- the other party has taken a turn initiating/offering, was accepted by you, but after the activity lapsed you wish to restart.
- it is an entirely new romantic, sexual, or flirtatious setting.
- An amount of time has passed that is inverse to the number of times they have accepted your offer before. While it may be acceptable when dating to offer again in a week or in a closer relationship to initiate again after, say, one day [or whatever is the negotiated norm in said relationship] it’s not acceptable to ask someone again if you’ve just met them.
- If you initiate or offer and are declined in a context that is not specifically romantic, sexual, or flirtatious, do not initiate or offer again. Seriously.
- If you initiate or offer and are declined in the context of a specifically romantic, sexual, or flirtations setting, do not act hurt or disappointed. Especially within a relationship this guilt-trips the other party and sets up an emotional blackmail for the next time.
- If you’re beginning a new relationship or going for a casual hookup, enthusiasm is key! Your new partner should be enthusiastically and happily involved with you. If no enthusiasm is present, it’s best to go for more communication and put off sex for a while.
- A person who wants consensual sex doesn’t want to commit or experience rape, and a person who rapes does.
- Whether a given rapist wants their victim(s) drugged, unconscious, frightened, intimidated, trapped, manipulated or tricked, or just pestered until they give in, the rapist wants the end result to be that a rape happens. That includes being forced to penetrate someone else.
- Contrary to what is often thought, consent is not difficult. If you still aren’t clear at this point, read this and this