For years we’ve been preaching “no means no.” We say it, we teach it, we write it on bill boards. We keep saying it, but somehow this simple statement is getting harder and harder to understand. Somehow this tiny word keeps getting lost in translation.
Some people seem to think no means maybe. Others think no means convince me. Some people think no means playing hard to get. And then there are those who just don’t take no for an answer.
No. A simple word that looks the same in almost a dozen languages. Who could have imagined that this simple sentence could be so very difficult to understand. This “confusion” has led to thousands of sexual assaults.
Since the concept of no meaning no is so difficult, how about we introduce a new concept.
Only yes means yes
Yes. An affirmative action. Agreement to move forward. Consent.
If you hear anything other than that affirmative statement, you should absolutely not be moving forward. Do not pass go, do not collect $200.
“I’m not sure” is not yes. “I don’t know” is not yes. “I’m not ready” is not yes. “Maybe” is not yes. Saying nothing is not yes. Saying no is absolutely not yes.
There are no alternatives to yes. When you initiate a sexual act, whether it’s kissing or sex or something in between, getting consent is required. If you don’t know if you have consent, you should not be proceeding.
If you don’t know if you have consent, ask! Don’t give me that look, I’m serious. There’s nothing wrong with saying, “do you want to?” or “is this okay?” In fact, not only is there nothing wrong with it…it’s encouraged! If you’re mature enough to be engaging in sexual activity, than you should be mature enough to talk about it. Take responsibility for your actions. Be 100% sure you and your partner are on the same page.
Consent is mandatory. Not sometimes, not occasionally. Every time.
There’s no assuming, no going off the consent of last time, and no wishful thinking. Clear consent, voluntarily and willingly given is an absolute requirement.
Only yes means yes.
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