What is consent and how to give it?
In Denmark, we have a consent-based rape law, which most people know and refer to as the consent law. But what does consent even mean and how can you give or withdraw it?
No sex without consent
Consent precedes sex. In short, this means that if all parties have not given consent, there can be no sex - it is abuse. Consent can be given and received, and whether you have sex with two or more people, it's important that everyone wants to have sex with everyone. Consent can be given verbally through words or non-verbally through body language.
Consent is communication
It's important to emphasize that consent is not valid for a fixed period of time. You cannot promise yourself or others that you will feel doing something at a certain time, for example, for a whole evening. It's therefore important to check in with each other regularly: communicate and reassure yourself and your partner(s) that you want to do the things you do to each other. If you don't like the sex you're having, you can always withdraw your consent. This can be done actively, like when you give consent, but it can also be done passively. It's therefore extremely important that, in addition to ensuring good communication, you are always aware of each other: If it looks like your partner(s) are not comfortable with the situation, they probably aren't - and in that case, there is no longer consent to continue having sex. Take breaks along the way and check in with each other.
Don't assume that others want (more)
In continuation of the above, one point is also that it's a good idea never to assume that someone wants to do something. Neither to continue whatever you are doing - nor to build on it. For example, it is not a given that just because you have kissed or have had hand sex, that there is consent to have oral sex or penetrative sex. It is also important not to assume that because you have had sex with someone before that they want to have sex again
How do you give consent?
Consent can be given by you both verbally and non-verbally. Verbally, consent can be given both by telling someone what you want to do - and non-verbally in a way where you respond to another person's action or request. Consent can be given in a really sexy way and, for that matter, can be combined with dirty talk. Tell your partner(s) what you want to do to them - or what you want them to do to you. Specifically, you can ask if it feels good for the other person or if you should continue. Consent can also be given through body language - by smiling, nodding and generally signaling that you are safe, comfortable and enthusiastic about the situation.
If you withdraw your consent
If consent is withdrawn along the way, it's important to know that there is no requirement to give your partner(s) an explanation. If your desire has changed or does not cover what you are doing, there is no need to defend why. Conversely, they cannot demand an explanation either.
It's not at all certain that there even is an explanation - other than that you don't feel comfortable with what is happening. If you find that your partner(s) no longer consent to sex, it is important to be respectful and understanding - even if it feels like a rejection.
Consent and nude photos
If you want to share nude photos of yourself, you should also make sure that the recipient wants to receive such photos of you. If you share nude photos of people other than yourself, they must also give their consent for you to share them. Sending nude photos without consent is considered indecent exposure and is illegal.
You can read more about how to send nude photos in our guide here.
Read also: What is foreplay - and does it even exist?
Also read: How to get better at saying what you want during sex