Lifestyle Opinion

Hooking Up, Having Fun, Asking For And Giving Consent

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Sandra Dickson
Written by Sandra Dickson

There’s more of a script for sex between cis and/or straight people than for people from Rainbow communities. That makes talking about consent super important for us.


If you want one word to describe consent it’s yes.  Yes, this is what I want, and I want it now, with you. Consent means sharing responsibility for having good sex.  Everyone is actively involved and no one is being treated as an object someone is doing things to.  Anyone can change their mind at any time, even if they’ve said yes earlier.

Consent means everyone feels able to express any choice without being threatened, intimidated, forced or pressured, whether it’s a casual hook-up or a relationship. It means everyone feels safe to say and accept yes or no without fear.  Limits and boundaries are respected.

Consent can always be withdrawn. You don’t “owe” anyone sexual stuff.

We don’t do or give consent once – it’s something we’re doing (or not) every moment of every sexual activity.  Checking in as we go is important, since things change. Hooking up, going on a date or meeting up online doesn’t guarantee sex. Being in a relationship doesn’t mean you owe anyone sex.

If you’re not sure if you have consent, or if anyone is drunk, wasted or asleep – you need to stop.  Using words is the easiest way to check, because body language can be hard to read.  It’s important to pay attention and if you’re not sure, stop and ask.

“It’s hot when someone tells me what they want”…….you can ask for consent in so many ways:

  • “Can I….?”
  • “How do you feel about…..?”
  • “What do you want right now?”
  • “Where do you like to be touched?”
  • “You seem quiet, are you okay?”
  • “Are you liking this?”

Consent can sound like someone telling you what you are doing is hot, asking you not to stop, telling you what they want or saying something feels great.  It might be noisy – moaning and maybe laughter too.  Consent often looks like direct eye contact, initiating sexual stuff, pulling someone closer, active touch, comfort with removing clothes, “open” body language, moving their hands to places you want to be touched.

Non-consent on the other hand is often much quieter.  Sometimes people go quiet when they are not sure how to say no, or they don’t think someone else will listen to them.  If you see any sign someone you are hooking up with isn’t enthusiastic about what’s going on – including them being super quiet – stop and check.  Non-consent can look like avoiding eye contact, not starting sexual stuff, pushing someone away, avoiding touch, being uncomfortable with removing clothing, looking sad or fearful, “closed” body language or “just lying there.”

Sometimes you can feel like someone you are hooking up with doesn’t care about consent.

They act like they’re in a hurry, or like you owe them sex. They try to get you very drunk or wasted. They don’t ask how you feel or what you want. They don’t really seem to be all there. They ignore your attempts to slow them down or stop.

If you feel unsafe at all, get away if you can and ask a friend for help if you need to.  Trust your gut instincts. 

Great sex, great consent, doesn’t happen by accident.  It happens because we practice making sure everyone is enthusiastically into what we are doing.  Practice makes perfect!!

For more information about consent, sexual violence and the law, and places to go to for help, visit www.kahukura.co.nz 

About the author

Sandra Dickson

Sandra Dickson

Sandra Dickson loves being bisexual and queer, and has been involved with the Wellington Bisexual Women’s Group for more than 25 years.

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