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Women's Studies

Got Consent?

As defined, consent is affirmative, and conscious, and voluntary words or actions, that give permission for specific sexual activity. Consent is active, not passive. Silence, in and of itself, cannot be interpreted as consent. Consent can be given by words or actions, as long as those word or actions created mutually understandable permission regarding willingness to engage in (and conditions of) sexual activity. Consent to any one form of sexual activity cannot automatically imply consent to any other forms of sexual activity.  In order to give consent, one must be of legal age; the legal age of Consent in Georgia is 16 years of age.

Sexual Violence Among College Students

  • 80% of sexual assaults are committed by a person known to the victim
  • 37% of students know at least one friend who has been raped
  • 33% of sexual assault victims on campus are first year students
  • 7.7 million American women have been victims of attempted or completed rape
  • More than 50% of sexual assaults involve alcohol

SOURCE: Black, M.C., Basile, K.C., Breiding, M.J., Smith, S.G., Walters, M.L., Merrick, M.T., Chen, J., & Stevens, M.R. (2011). The National Intimate Partner and Sexual Violence Survey (NISVS): 2010 Summary Report. Atlanta, GA: National Center for Injury Prevention and Control, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Effective Consent

Obtaining Effective Consent requires communication. Each partner should feel free to communicate what they want out of a sexual experience. Partners need to openly state their expectations and how far they want to go. You should frequently check in with your partner to see if they are comfortable. Good communication means a good sexual encounter for everyone involved.
Effective consent must entail an uninfluenced yes. Consent cannot be established if one person is incapacitated or feeling pressured to do something. Incapacitation is a state where someone cannot make rational, reasonable decisions because they lack the capacity to give knowing consent (e.g., to understand the “who, what, when, where, why or how” of their sexual interaction). Incapacity results from mental disability, sleep, unconsciousness, involuntary physical restraint, or from the consumption of rape drugs, alcohol or other drug use, or blackout. A person who is incapacitated from drugs or alcohol is unable to give consent. A person should not feel pressured or coerced into sexual activity.
Effective consent happens one step at a time, every time. If either partner agrees to one sexual act, that does not mean they agree to all sexual acts. For example, oral sex does not give consent for intercourse and vice versa. In addition, agreeing to engage in a sexual act today, does not mean they consent to the same sexual act tomorrow.
Effective consent is free to be taken back at any time: At any point during a sexual encounter each partner should feel free to change their mind and the other partner must respect their decision.