Let’s talk about consent, baby!

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Jamie Mere, Graphics EditorThe school year is starting up, and thus, the amount of people experiencing university night culture is going to be increasing once again. 

People are living away from home for the first time, and are going to be discovering a life of independence that they are not used to.

Maybe people have their own room, or one they have to share with another person or an apartment that is shared between four completely new people. 

Maybe, as roommates, codes have already been established stating how the room is being used at a certain time (if you catch my drift). 

Since the school year is beginning, we are going to have a conversation about what consent is and why it is important for everyone to understand exactly what it means — specifically when it comes to drinking, partying and sexual activity. 

The basic definition from dictonary.com for consent is permission for something to happen or agreement to do something. Putting it simply, if someone is asking to borrow a pencil, then the person who is lending that person the pencil must agree before the pencil can be taken.

People may believe that because cosent is discussed so much that people already understand what consent fully entails, but unfortunately that is not the case.

Consent is something that has been discussed a lot as the #metoo movement is becoming more and more powerful, so it is crucial for us as people to understand exactly what consent is and why it is so important. 

At Laurier, Consent is discussed during o-week and actually has a whole presentation around it as one of the many o-week activities available for first years. 

The issue is, that consent can be discussed as much as humanly possible, but when drinking and partying get involved, the lines blur.

People may believe that because consent is discussed so much that people already understand what consent fully entails, but unfortunately that is not the case.

Lets start of with the definition of what consent is when it pertains to sex. Consent for any sexual activity must be given freely and cannot be given by someone who is intoxicated, unconscious, when a person uses intimidation methods or is otherwise considered incapable of giving their consent. 

Consent is given by saying yes to the acts. A simple nod or silence is not giving consent. 

And please do not think that just because a person did not explicitly say no means they consented! A person who is intoxicated out of their mind, might not have the ability to say no, they might not even know what they are currently experiencing. 

In Canada, consent means voluntary agreement for both parties to engage in sexual activity, and this must be given without abuse, exploitation, coercion or threats. Before any acts begin, it should be clear to both partners that they are willing, comfortable and agree to continue. If consent is not present, then the activity becomes a form of sexual assault or rape. 

Trying to convince a person to have sex with you to the point where they say yes does not equal consent. 

In the digital age we currently live in, let’s not forget that you cannot send pictures of a sexual nature to someone without their consent: this is considered sexual harassment. So think and ask before you send a picture. 

If someone decides to share a picture of themselves with you, don’t show that picture to anyone else. There are so many other legal ways to see an explicit photo, your friend does not need to see your girlfriend’s or boyfriend’s nude. 

Also, as a side note for the younger readers out there, it is illegal to send explicit videos or photos of someone who is under 18, this includes if YOU are taking a picture of yourself and are under the age of 18.

Thus, it is illegal to be in possession of an explicit photo of someone who is under 18. Just be aware of that.

Over fifty colleges in the US are under investigation for how they handled sexual assault cases after allegations made by students, and according to a report by the White House, one in five women are sexually assaulted in college. So, this is really the age where people need to understand what consent is.

Since the partying culture in university is a big thing, and often hookups occur while under the influence, the lines for consent get blurry for many people. I’m sure many of us have had experiences while under the influence which we might have regretted in the morning. But as stated by the law consent cannot be given by a person who is intoxicated.

You do not know what a person is comfortable doing, and it is not your place to assume someone is comfortable doing something when they are in such a vulnerable position, even if you are in a relationship with this individual.

It is also important to note that consent is also important when dealing with drinking and drugs. Someone must voluntarily agree to drink, not be pressured into drinking. Someone must agree to having the spiked punch, not be given it without knowing. Someone must agree to eating pot brownies before consuming it.

Now, I understand that many people are going to sit there are say that asking for consent for every activity that takes place is not realistic. 

They probably want a way to consent to everything at the same time. My opinion still is that consent needs to be given for every act. 

People have things that may trigger them, or they may be comfortable doing one thing, but the other thing is off the table for them. You do not know what a person is comfortable doing, and it is not your place to assume someone is comfortable doing something when they are in such a vulnerable position, even if you are in a relationship with this individual.

Consent then does not equal consent now! 

Being in a relationship does not equal consent! 

Having hooked up before does not equal consent now! 

Being at a party does not equal consent! 

Dressing a certain way does not equal consent!

Having ate edibles before does not equal consent! 

Consent to do one act, does not equal consent to another! 

Pressuring someone into saying yes does not equal consent! 

Everyone should focus on making sure their partners and friends are comfortable, so drinking, partying and having sex are enjoyable for everyone involved!

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