Sexual consent is where a person has the ability and freedom to agree to sexual activity. Silence, or the absence of “no” does not indicate consent. Consent may be withdrawn at any time.
What do we mean by Consent?
The concept of Consent illustrated here has been drawn from the teachings of Betty Martin and her ‘Wheel of Consent’ schematic which you can learn more about here. What Betty Martin illustrates is that there is more to consent than a simple ‘yes’. Consent frames a transaction between an initiator and a responder involving a gift. The gift may be given by the initiator and received by the responder, however, it’s also possible that the gift is received by the initiator (taken) and given by the responder (allowed). What is different is the direction that the gift is flowing. This may seem a rather technical point but it expresses a great deal about the complexities of sexual relationships, and when the realm of consent is included it can bring helpful clarity to what is actually going on.