Consent — it’s on everyone’s lips. As we shift to a “yes means yes” national policy on sexual consent, many are scrambling to truly understand what consent looks like. Does it mean having to say yes every ten minutes? What happens if you change your mind in the middle? Does it apply to everything or just to penetration? Given that consent practices aren’t taught in classroom sex ed and the narratives of porn consistently blur the line between yes and no, it’s important to create media that clarifies the confusion that often accompanies sexual interactions.
Thankfully, there are some rad comic artists on the internet doing a great job drawing it out for us. From learning how to build a consent castle in your relationships to fully understanding that unconscious people do not want to drink tea, here are three feminist comics illustrating what respectful, sexy and active consent looks like. If you’re struggling to incorporate consent into your life, then it’s worth your time to read and share.
1. Common misconceptions about consent
Illustrator Alli Kirkham explains what consent does and doesn’t look like in a variety of interactions.
“But you said yes in the beginning.”
“But you said yes once.”
“But you said you liked it once.”
“But you said you wanted it before you passed out.”
“But you invited me over.”
“But you were asking for it.”
2. Consent can be as easy as a cup of tea
In this short video, a British man explains, “If people say yes to tea, start drinking it and then pass out before they finish it, don’t continue pouring the tea down their throat. Take the tea away. Make sure they are safe. This is because unconscious people don’t want tea. Trust me on this.”
3. How to navigate consent throughout a relationship
No matter what stage of a relationship you are in, it is important to build a comfortable consent castle together. The folks over at Everyday Feminism have drawn up a fabulous comic discussing how partners can work together to create a safe, comfortable and adventurous sexual relationship that lasts for years. Make sure to click through to see the full castle metaphor, that way, no one will be floating in the moat alone.
Ultimately, true consent is best practiced as an ongoing conversation rather than a one-time permission slip. The important thing to remember, always, is that you are allowed to have the experience you’re having — and if you change your mind, stop enjoying something or want something different, you are both allowed to experience this shift and express it to your partner. Checking in throughout a sexual experience (“Is this OK?” or “Would you like me to touch you there?”) and asking specific questions (“Would you like this faster or slower?” instead of “Do you like this?”) are great ways to establish a mutually enjoyable sexual experience.
The sex we learn in movies teaches us that sex equals penetration and that the bedroom is not a space for conversation. It’s time to take the narratives about how to have sex back from the media reels of patriarchy and do our best to practice consent in every way that we can.