Consent is an agreement between participants to engage in a sexual activity. This agreement should be made through mutually understandable words or actions, actively communicated both knowingly and voluntarily, that clearly convey permission for a specific activity. Consent is not effective if it results from: the use of physical force, a threat of physical force, intimidation, coercion, incapacitation, or any other factor that would eliminate an individual’s ability to exercise their own free will to choose whether or not to engage in sexual activity.
Consent is about communication. Communicating about your expectations from your partner and their boundaries is imperative before and during any sexual act. Consent must be given for each sexual type of sexual activity. Consenting to one activity, one time, does not mean someone gives consent for other activities or for the same activity on other occasions. For example, agreeing to kiss someone is not giving permission for your clothes to be removed. Having sex with someone in the past, does not give that person permission to have sex with you again in the future.
Consent can be withdrawn at any time if one partner feels uncomfortable. One way to do this is to clearly communicate with your partner that you are no longer comfortable with this activity and you wish to stop. Non-verbal cues can also be used to withdraw consent but consider that at times during a sexual encounter, non-verbal cues may be hard to read. The best way to ensure that all parties are comfortable with any sexual activity is to talk about it, check in periodically, and make sure everyone involved consents before escalating or changing activities.