“Does this feel good?”
“How do you like it when I do this...?”
“Is there something else you want to try?”

Ooh, these steamy lines are getting us going! And you know what makes them even better? They’re all based in consent! #YESPLEASE

The word consent can have different meanings, so we’re going to break it down for you in a way that’s easy to understand to give you the tools to live out your best sex life!

In the simplest terms, consent is giving permission for something to happen. When you’re having sex, consent is the permission to perform a sexual act or an agreement to have a sexual experience. Consent’s not only a must-have, it can make sex more pleasurable for everyone involved.  

Want to learn more? We give you permission to read below 😉

Legally, consent cannot be given when we are under the influence of alcohol and other substances because of how they impact our ability to make informed decisions. See more on this here.

Checking in with Yourself

It’s not always easy to know what you want or how you feel about having sex with someone, especially if they’re a new partner, or if you’re new to having sexual experiences. If you’re feeling even slightly off about something, trust your gut. Your intuition is a powerful thing and there to protect you.

Everyone has the right to have sex that feels safe and enjoyable for each person. Anything involving sexual acts should always be mutually agreed upon, every step of the way. You never owe anyone sex, regardless of the circumstance – whether it’s your long-term partner, a one-night stand, or anyone in between.

Here are some questions you can ask yourself that’ll hopefully give you some clarity on what you want from having sex:

1
Do I genuinely want to have sex with this person, or do I feel like I’m being pressured to have sex with them?
2
Do I feel like the other person won’t like me if I don’t have sex with them? What do I want?
3
How do I normally feel about sex after the fact? Am I happy, guilty, excited, ashamed, calm, anxious? Where are these feelings coming from?
4
What kind of prevention methods do I use? Does this change depending on the partner, or the situation?
5
Are my sexual choices different when I’m tipsy, drunk, or high? How does that make me feel after the fact?
6
Do I feel like I can trust the person I’m having sex with?

The Golden Rule: #AlwaysAskFirst

Building a culture of consent means we need to get everyone on board!

But how do we know what someone really wants or how they feel? Well, the answer is pretty simple:
ALWAYS ASK, EVERY SINGLE TIME!

If you can’t tell if someone likes or dislikes you touching them, ask them! If you don’t know if someone 100% wants to have sex with you, ask them! If you’re ever feeling unsure if someone is comfortable with what’s going on during sex, ask them! The only way to know for sure is to just ASK!  

Asking lets the other person tell us how they’re really feeling instead of having us guess or make assumptions.  

You may have heard of the golden rule: “Treat others how you want to be treated.” But the problem with this is that what we want may not always be the same as other people, and that’s okay! In a consent culture, we recognize that everyone has their own unique needs that might be different from others.

The golden rule we go by is:
“Treat others how they want be treated.”
And the only way to know, is to ask them.

Verbal consent is so important because we may not always read the vibe right, and making assumptions about what other people want or feel can get us into sticky situations. The only way to know if someone is feeling uncomfortable about something during sex is for you to ask them. Similarly, the only way for someone else to know if you’re feeling uncomfortable or hesitant about something during sex is for you to tell them.  

*However, if you appeared visibly distressed, froze during sex, and/or verbally withdrew your consent at any point, but the other person(s) continued, what they did was wrong and violating.

If this situation happened to you, NEVER feel like you are overreacting. Sex without consent is sexual assault. We talk about this in more detail below.

BRB Just Self-Advocating

Building a culture of consent is everyone's responsibility. While our golden rules of “always ask first” and “treat others how they want to be treated” apply, it's just as important for you to know how to use your voice to advocate for yourself.
If this is something that’s new to you, you can start by practicing self-advocacy in your everyday life.  
For example: Practice vocalizing how you feel, what you want, and your boundaries to your friends, family, classmates, and co-workers—heck, even your barista! If it takes you looking into the mirror and talking to yourself to practice saying “yes” or “no” to your reflection, do it. If you need sticky notes with affirmations and reminders to speak up for yourself, post them everywhere! Take our Communication Styles Quiz to learn what type of communicator you are and how you can become more assertive!

💫 Manifest vocalizing consent in whatever way works for you. 💫

We know that things can get more complicated when we start talking about self-advocacy in the bedroom. Maybe it’s nerve-racking to say “no” out of fear of seeming rude, hurting someone’s feelings, or getting rejected by that person? Or there’s the possibility that based on your upbringing and culture, you’re concerned that enthusiastically saying “yes” to something sexual makes you seem promiscuous?

Whatever the case may be, remember this mantra:

✨ Your body is yours and yours alone. ✨ You deserve to feel and get the pleasure you want out of your relationships and sex.
If you’re on the lookout for some inspiration on bedroom self-advocacy and want to turn up the heat, try these lines:
  • “This would feel even better for me if...”  
  • “Lemme show you how I like it.”  
  • “I need [blank] to feel comfortable having sex.”  

Still, we know that there are situations where self-advocacy is NOT respected or listened to, regardless of a person’s efforts to say NO. Victims and survivors of sexual violence are never to blame. We discuss this in more detail below.

Wait... So, it happened but I’m not feeling good about it anymore?

Just remember, YOU get to decide if something didn’t sit right with you, and it’s up to YOU on how you want to define what happened. It doesn’t need to be assault for you to be uncomfortable with what went down.
It can take some time to process what went down during sex and only after reflection, you may realize that something wasn’t right. Trust your gut and know that your feelings are always valid. It’s normal to feel this way, and whether you decide if consent was present or not, it’s worth reflecting on what this experience might tell you about your boundaries and how they can be protected in the future. Don’t feel guilty about what you're feeling or not having said anything in the moment because consent can sometimes be a grey area.  
If you’re going to sleep with this partner(s) again and feel safe communicating your concerns to them, share the things that made you feel uncomfortable or hesitant during sex. If they’re NOT open to listening to your experience (e.g. gaslight you, or disagree with you, or straight up doesn’t accept what you’re saying), you might want to reconsider if you want to continue sleeping with them if your boundaries won’t be respected.

My Partner Said No...

What happens if your partner(s) says they’re not okay with something during sex?
How should you react if they say no?  

If someone doesn’t want to kiss, cuddle, or have sex with you, it can bring on a lot of different emotions, but remember to put yourself in their shoes. Recognize that they probably feel vulnerable being honest with you and rather than shut them down, respect their boundaries and validate their feelings. You can always try to make them more comfortable and move the conversation into asking them what they would prefer to do instead, or you can suggest other things you can do together to keep the mood going. 🔥

Ultimately, the best sex happens when all participants enjoy what they are doing!

MIXING SUBSTANCES & SEX

Drinking alcohol and using substances like weed can help us relax or get in the mood for sex, and that’s totally okay if that’s what you feel is right for you!
However, when you’re under the influence of substances, you’re affecting your ability to legally give consent. It’s always good to check in with yourself and make sure that you and your partner(s) are comfortable having sex if you’ve been drinking or using drugs.
If you find yourself frequently turning to or needing drugs or alcohol before sex, it could be worthwhile to reflect if this is a pattern and decide if this behaviour is serving you and your needs.
Check out our Prevention page to help you manage how you can be safer if you mix substances and sex, and our Substance Use section for how to use substances more safely.
*If you were drugged, however, know that any sexual act (including touching, oral sex, or intercourse) did not happen with your consent. Drugging and date rape are sexual assault. Read this section to learn more about non-consenting situations and how to respond.
Our bottom line: We believe that every young person knows what’s right for them and are capable of making the best decisions for themselves when they have the right information at their hands.

How to Respond to a Non-Consenting Situation

Sexual violence is any type of violence (including physical, psychological, and verbal violence) that uses sexual means or targets sexuality to be carried out. Sexual violence can take on many forms, including but not limited to sexual assault, sexual abuse, sexual harassment, or rape. People may not realize that things like stalking, cyber harassment, or the distribution of unsolicited sexual images are also forms of violence.
Oftentimes, the perpetrator of sexual violence is not a stranger to the victim or survivor, but rather, someone they know personally or even a romantic partner. No matter who it comes from, being forced, pressured or experiencing any form of sexual violence or abuse is WRONG and never justified. If you have experienced sexual violence, remember that it is NEVER your fault. What happened to you is wrong. Seeking help to process and heal from this traumatic experience is vital. You deserve support.
Consider reaching out to a trusted person in your life, seeking professional support (e.g. a counsellor), or getting medical attention, depending on your situation. In some circumstances, if it’s appropriate and you feel comfortable, you can consider reporting your case to the police. You can also go to a hospital to get a Sexual Assault Evidence Kit (SAEK, or also known as rape kit) done within 72 hours of the assault, but not every hospital in Canada has them. For more information on how to access a SAEK and the things you can do to increase the likelihood of obtaining evidence, we recommend this article. You can also access community resources, a provincial crisis hotline, or go to the nearest Sexual Assault Centre.
If you were recently sexually assaulted (where condomless penetration occurred), you may consider being prescribed PEP. PEP is an emergency HIV prevention medication that you can take within the first three days (72 hours) of a potential exposure to HIV. The sooner you take PEP, the more effective it is. You’ll have to take the pill every day for a month.

If you are a person with a vulva and are concerned about pregnancy, you may consider taking Plan B. Plan B is an emergency contraceptive that can be taken up to three days (72 hours) after condomless sex or assault took place. The sooner you take Plan B, the more effective it is. For more info on Plan B, check out https://planb.ca/en.

My Partner Said No...

What happens if your partner(s) says they’re not okay with something during sex?
How should you react if they say no?  

If someone doesn’t want to kiss, cuddle, or have sex with you, it can bring on a lot of different emotions, but remember to put yourself in their shoes. Recognize that they probably feel vulnerable being honest with you and rather than shut them down, respect their boundaries and validate their feelings. You can always try to make them more comfortable and move the conversation into asking them what they would prefer to do instead, or you can suggest other things you can do together to keep the mood going. 🔥

Ultimately, the best sex happens when all participants enjoy what they are doing!

MIXING SUBSTANCES & SEX

Drinking alcohol and using substances like weed can help us relax or get in the mood for sex, and that’s totally okay if that’s what you feel is right for you!
However, when you’re under the influence of substances, you’re affecting your ability to legally give consent. It’s always good to check in with yourself and make sure that you and your partner(s) are comfortable having sex if you’ve been drinking or using drugs.
If you find yourself frequently turning to or needing drugs or alcohol before sex, it could be worthwhile to reflect if this is a pattern and decide if this behaviour is serving you and your needs.
Check out our Prevention page to help you manage how you can be safer if you mix substances and sex, and our Substance Use section for how to use substances more safely.
*If you were drugged, however, know that any sexual act (including touching, oral sex, or intercourse) did not happen with your consent. Drugging and date rape are sexual assault. Read this section to learn more about non-consenting situations and how to respond.
Our bottom line: We believe that every young person knows what’s right for them and are capable of making the best decisions for themselves when they have the right information at their hands.

MIXING SUBSTANCES & SEX

Drinking alcohol and using substances like weed can help us relax or get in the mood for sex, and that’s totally okay if that’s what you feel is right for you!
However, when you’re under the influence of substances, you’re affecting your ability to legally give consent. It’s always good to check in with yourself and make sure that you and your partner(s) are comfortable having sex if you’ve been drinking or using drugs.
If you find yourself frequently turning to or needing drugs or alcohol before sex, it could be worthwhile to reflect if this is a pattern and decide if this behaviour is serving you and your needs.
Check out our Prevention page to help you manage how you can be safer if you mix substances and sex, and our Substance Use section for how to use substances more safely.
*If you were drugged, however, know that any sexual act (including touching, oral sex, or intercourse) did not happen with your consent. Drugging and date rape are sexual assault. Read this section to learn more about non-consenting situations and how to respond.
Our bottom line: We believe that every young person knows what’s right for them and are capable of making the best decisions for themselves when they have the right information at their hands.

My Partner Said No...

What happens if your partner(s) says they’re not okay with something during sex?
How should you react if they say no?  

If someone doesn’t want to kiss, cuddle, or have sex with you, it can bring on a lot of different emotions, but remember to put yourself in their shoes. Recognize that they probably feel vulnerable being honest with you and rather than shut them down, respect their boundaries and validate their feelings. You can always try to make them more comfortable and move the conversation into asking them what they would prefer to do instead, or you can suggest other things you can do together to keep the mood going. 🔥

Ultimately, the best sex happens when all participants enjoy what they are doing!

How to Respond to a Non-Consenting Situation

Sexual violence is any type of violence (including physical, psychological, and verbal violence) that uses sexual means or targets sexuality to be carried out. Sexual violence can take on many forms, including but not limited to sexual assault, sexual abuse, sexual harassment, or rape. People may not realize that things like stalking, cyber harassment, or the distribution of unsolicited sexual images are also forms of violence.
Oftentimes, the perpetrator of sexual violence is not a stranger to the victim or survivor, but rather, someone they know personally or even a romantic partner. No matter who it comes from, being forced, pressured or experiencing any form of sexual violence or abuse is WRONG and never justified. If you have experienced sexual violence, remember that it is NEVER your fault. What happened to you is wrong. Seeking help to process and heal from this traumatic experience is vital. You deserve support.
Consider reaching out to a trusted person in your life, seeking professional support (e.g. a counsellor), or getting medical attention, depending on your situation. In some circumstances, if it’s appropriate and you feel comfortable, you can consider reporting your case to the police. You can also go to a hospital to get a Sexual Assault Evidence Kit (SAEK, or also known as rape kit) done within 72 hours of the assault, but not every hospital in Canada has them. For more information on how to access a SAEK and the things you can do to increase the likelihood of obtaining evidence, we recommend this article. You can also access community resources, a provincial crisis hotline, or go to the nearest Sexual Assault Centre.
If you were recently sexually assaulted (where condomless penetration occurred), you may consider being prescribed PEP. PEP is an emergency HIV prevention medication that you can take within the first three days (72 hours) of a potential exposure to HIV. The sooner you take PEP, the more effective it is. You’ll have to take the pill every day for a month.

If you are a person with a vulva and are concerned about pregnancy, you may consider taking Plan B. Plan B is an emergency contraceptive that can be taken up to three days (72 hours) after condomless sex or assault took place. The sooner you take Plan B, the more effective it is. For more info on Plan B, check out https://planb.ca/en.

MIXING SUBSTANCES & SEX

Drinking alcohol and using substances like weed can help us relax or get in the mood for sex, and that’s totally okay if that’s what you feel is right for you!
However, when you’re under the influence of substances, you’re affecting your ability to legally give consent. It’s always good to check in with yourself and make sure that you and your partner(s) are comfortable having sex if you’ve been drinking or using drugs.
If you find yourself frequently turning to or needing drugs or alcohol before sex, it could be worthwhile to reflect if this is a pattern and decide if this behaviour is serving you and your needs.
Check out our Prevention page to help you manage how you can be safer if you mix substances and sex, and our Substance Use section for how to use substances more safely.
*If you were drugged, however, know that any sexual act (including touching, oral sex, or intercourse) did not happen with your consent. Drugging and date rape are sexual assault. Read this section to learn more about non-consenting situations and how to respond.
Our bottom line: We believe that every young person knows what’s right for them and are capable of making the best decisions for themselves when they have the right information at their hands.
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