On Consent

A bunch of the Pharyngula Horde have been working to improve on the enthusiastic consent concept. This (CCC) is what we’ve come up with. On the off chance this might be useful to someone else, here it is.

CCC (Crystal Clear Consent)

* First of all: Understand that if you go forward with initiating sexual activity not knowing if consent exists, you may or may not be raping someone, but you have proved beyond a shadow of doubt that you are willing to rape someone. Black areas make you a rapist, grey areas make you willing to rape.

* Making absolutely sure that consent is obtained and mutually agreed on. This does not include trying for consent when a person is not in condition to grant consent.

* No doubts as to whether consent was obtained.

* No guesses as to whether consent was obtained.

* No assumptions as to whether consent was obtained.

* No doubt as to whether any partner was capable of giving consent at the time.

Crystal Clear Consent Practices:

* Understanding that consent may be withdrawn, by any involved party, at any time. Initial consent does not mean you get to carry on if consent has been withdrawn. In other words, people are allowed to change their mind at any point.

* If you have not had sex with a given person before, mutually understood language with confirmation is the best way to attain Crystal Clear Consent. Relying on body language or assuming consent without clarification is nearly always insufficient with a new partner. Consent that is not communicated is not CCC.

* If your partner is communicating something, do not assume that it has nothing to do with consent.

* If you initiate or offer and are declined in the context of a specifically romantic, sexual, or flirtations setting, do not initiate or offer again until one of the following four occur:

1. the other party has taken a turn initiating/offering and been declined by you.

2. the other party has taken a turn initiating/offering, was accepted by you, but after the activity lapsed you wish to restart.

3. it is an entirely new romantic, sexual, or flirtatious setting.

4. An amount of time has passed that is inverse to the number of times they have accepted your offer before. While it may be acceptable when dating to offer again in a week or in a closer relationship to initiate again after, say, one day [or whatever is the negotiated norm in said relationship] it’s not acceptable to ask someone again if you’ve just met them.

* If you initiate or offer and are declined in a context that is not specifically romantic, sexual, or flirtatious, do not initiate or offer again. Seriously.

* If you’re beginning a new relationship or going for a casual hookup, enthusiasm is key! Your new partner should be enthusiastically and happily involved with you. If no enthusiasm is present, it’s best to go for more communication and put off sex for a while.

* A person who wants consensual sex doesn’t want to commit or experience rape, and a person who rapes does. Whether a given rapist wants their victim(s) drugged, unconscious, frightened, intimidated, trapped, manipulated or tricked, or just pestered until they give in, the rapist wants the end result to be that a rape happens. That includes being forced to penetrate someone else.

* Contrary to what is often thought, consent is not difficult. If you still aren’t clear at this point, read this: http://freethoughtblogs.com/almostdiamonds/2011/09/20/consent-is-hard/ and this: http://www.rawstory.com/rs/2013/02/06/if-consent-was-really-that-hard-whiny-dudes-would-fail-at-every-aspect-of-life/

* Don’t want to listen to us? How about MIT:

Effective Consent is:

– informed;

– freely and actively given;

– mutually understandable words or actions;

– which indicate a willingness to participate in
– mutually agreed upon sexual activity.


7 thoughts on “On Consent

  1. Thank you, Caine, for all your work in bringing this clear statement to light. You have all done great work. I truly appreciate your efforts.

  2. Oh, I didn’t do all that much. Lots of other people contributed to make this work, Crip Dyke, Pteryxx, Nightjar, Mellow Monkey, NightShadeQueen, Tethys and many more! Here’s hoping it works when the next wave of apologists hit.

  3. Caine, I am sorry for using this method to contact you. I tried to post my story on Pharyngula’s thread about Elyse, and my comments are all going into moderation. I was signed in as myself while posting. Is anything wrong? I’m contacting you because you are a Pharyngula moderator and maybe you can find out what happened. Nobody’s said anything to me and I wonder if it was a mistake. Thanks,

  4. Hi, Badgersdaughter. Um, right now, it looks like all of FTB is frozen, I have 3 comments in moderation myself. The recent comments lists haven’t changed at all on any of the blogs, including Pharyngula. I’m not sure what’s going on right now, I haven’t e-mailed PZ yet, just waiting things out for a while. If it continues for more than a couple of hours, I’ll send an email. At any rate, no, you haven’t done anything wrong!

  5. This is going to sound a bit clinical… I’ve read a lot your input à la PZ’s et. al. and I agree with you. You’re very much deserving of a quick fly-by to say ‘thank you for your thoughts, you’ve made me think, you’ve broadened my horizons, I’m better for having read you’.

    So… um… Ta muchlies. Keep up the thought provoking, and more importantly, accurate work.

    Yay you!

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