Let's talk about consent
As Valentine's Day beckons, it's important to keep talking about what happens when sex stops being mutual — or never was in the first place.
To raise awareness and promote prevention, Concordia’s Sexual Assault Resource Centre (SARC) runs a year-round campaign called “Ask, Listen, Respect: Join the Consent Conversation.”
“Our intention is to prevent sexual assault from occurring by giving students the tools — strategies, specific language — to better communicate and check in with their partners,” says SARC coordinator Jennifer Drummond. She runs the centre from the third floor of the Guy-de Maisonneuve Building (GM), with the help of volunteers.
“We want to teach people how to incorporate consent into their personal lives and into their sex lives.”
As Drummond explains, “consent must be mutual, sober and continual.”
“Just because your partner agrees to one sexual act doesn’t mean they’re consenting to other sex acts. If a person is intoxicated, their consent is invalid. Plus, your partner has the right to change their mind at any time.”
There’s a misconception that you have to ask for consent using legalistic terms that sound awkward — and, frankly, kill the mood. But Drummond suggests that people ask personal questions, like “does this feel good?”, “is that okay?” and “should I keep going?”
If your partner is silent, that does not constitute consent. To ensure you’ve got consent, listen for phrases like “that’s great”, “keep going” and “yes!”
Consent is about respect
What’s the best way to react when your partner wants to cool things down sexually? The best and only acceptable response is to respect the other person’s limits.
Drummond recommends phrases like “Do you want to take a break?”, “Yeah, let’s slow down”, and “Okay, is there anything you’d like me to do instead?” — all good responses in a sexual situation where one partner isn’t interested in going further.
'Ask, listen, respect'
One of the SARC campaign’s strategies for outreach is a series of three thematic postcards: “Ask, Listen, Respect: Join the Consent Conversation.”
“The postcards are a bit provocative. That’s a good thing,” says Drummond. She hopes they’ll catch students’ attention and spark awareness around the issues of consent.
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Support for sexual assault survivors
Have you been looking for support, but aren't sure where to start?
Every Wednesday, between 4 p.m. and 5 p.m., the SARC is offering a laid-back evening of sharing experiences, eating cookies and craft-making.
"No pressure, no weirdness, just cookies and chatting and crafting," says Drummond. "Students should feel free to bring a friend if you feel they would also benefit."
Drop by Concordia's Sexual Assault Resource Centre (GM-300.27) during office hours to access helpful information and support. You can visit the SARC webpage for a schedule of workshops and events. The SARC's cookies and crafting evenings run every Wednesday until April 6, in Room H-300.24 of the Henry F. Hall Building.
Counselling and Psychological Services is offering free personality assessments between 10 a.m. and 3 p.m. on Wednesday, February 10, on the Mezzanine of the Henry F. Hall Building (1455 De Maisonneuve W.).