Halloween is full of tricks and treats, but it is essential to remember that a Halloween costume cannot imply or express consent. Everyone should have the right to feel empowered celebrating the spooky season by expressing their creativity and slaying in a costume that they feel comfortable in, no matter the coverage. Creep it real this October—and all year round—by learning about consent and ways you can start the conversation.
Consent is when someone agrees to do something sexual with you — whether love bites, kissing, touching, oral sex, vaginal sex, or anal sex. Before doing anything sexual, it must be clear that both people want to engage in that activity.
If you want to engage in sexual activity with someone, you must discuss it and ask first. If you don't ask before you touch, kiss, or do anything sexual with someone, and the individual does not say yes, then you don't have that person's consent, and what you're doing is rape or sexual assault. That's why consent matters.
Asking for consent isn't complicated or awkward. It makes the sexual activity less uncomfortable and confusing because when there's explicit consent and excitement, you know that the person you're with is open to the sexual experience. You are ready for a wicked good time.
As simple and satisfying as F.R.I.E.S.:
Freely given. It's not okay to pressure, trick, or threaten someone into saying yes. And you can't give consent if you're drunk, high, or passed out.
Reversible. It's okay to say yes and then change your mind—at any time! Even if you've done it before and even if you're both naked in bed.
Informed. You can only consent to something if you have all the facts. For example, if someone says they'll use a condom but don't use a condom, that is not consent.
Enthusiastic. When it comes to sex, you should do stuff you want to do, not things people expect you to do. Stop and check in if someone doesn't seem enthusiastic.
Specific. Saying yes to one thing, like going to the bedroom to make out, doesn't mean you're saying yes to other things, like having sex. There are laws about who's able to consent. If the person you're with is:
- Drunk or high
- Asleep or passed out
- Below the legal age of consent or much younger than you
- Disabled in a way that affects their ability to understand you
All the situations above make it impossible for a person to consent, and it's not okay for you to do anything sexual with them.
Consent Looks Like
Consent is a clear, happy, excited "yes!" which may be verbal or a non-verbal expression of consent, such as a head nod.
So, how do you get consent? Simple, ask. Ask for consent by stating what you want to do and ask if they want to do that too. The conversation doesn't need a bunch of hocus pocus to be successful. Here’s an example:
I want to hug you, can I?
- If they say "yes" and seem happy, they consent, and you can hug them.
- If they say "yes" but seem unsure or worried about it, they are NOT consenting. Check in again by saying, "Are you sure? We don't have to do that."
- If they say "no," or "I don't know," or don't say anything, they're not consenting, and you need to stop and ask what they're feeling/thinking.
Remember, consent for one sexual thing doesn't mean consent for all sexual things. It's okay for you or the person you're with to say "stop" at any time. Pay attention to what your partner says and how happy they seem about it.
YES - If someone asks for your consent to do something sexual, and you want to do it, consent is simple. All you have to do is say "yes!" or "sounds fa-boo-lous" or any variation of bewitching excitement. Consent is sexy, and there is nothing hotter than open communication.
NO - If you do not want to consent to something sexual and the person you're with asks for consent, feel empowered to say "No." There is no need for an explanation or apology. "No." is a complete sentence. Unfortunately, not all people ask for consent before they start touching, kissing, undressing, or doing other sexual things. That may make stopping someone you don't want to do something with feel scary and complicated. Do not worry about offending, disappointing, or upsetting someone for stopping their sexual advances. If a person truly respects and appreciates someone, they will understand. You do not have to apologize or explain yourself. The words "stop" or "no" clearly indicates that a person does not have consent and any advances or sexual activity need to stop.
Ways to say no:
- I don't like this
- I'm not into that
- I'm not ready for that
- I don't feel like it today
- I appreciate you, but I don't want to do that
- I'll only do that if we use a condom
It's never acceptable to touch someone sexually without their permission, and doing so is a criminal offense.
Want to learn more or find additional answers about sexual and reproductive health? Planned Parenthood of Orange and San Bernardino Counties Community Education team has resources and training for youth, parents, and professionals working with youth.