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HEALTH & WELLBEING

Spotlight On: Boundaries & Consent - The Right Way To Do It.

By AGoldhawk 05 Sep 2019

Making connections with people is a big part of being at university... we want you to have fun, let your hair down and party with the best of them, but we also want you to be smart, safe and to look out for each other...do it the right way...

The Robert Gordon University is committed to promoting and providing a safe and respectful environment for every member of its community, by challenging harassment and abuse. Sexual violence is a serious issue which everyone needs to know about and understand. We all have a role to play in advocating and promoting a safe environment.

What Does Consent Mean?

People typically talk about consent in the context of some kind of sexual or physical activity with a partner. In a healthy relationship, both (or all) partners are able to openly talk about and agree on what kind of activity they want to engage in. 

You may have heard the phrase “no means no.” That’s totally true, but it doesn’t really provide a complete picture of consent because it puts the responsibility on one person to resist or accept an activity. It also makes consent about what someone doesn’t want to do, instead of being about openly expressing what they do want to do.



Well, How Does It Work?

Some people are worried that talking about or getting consent will be awkward or that it will “ruin the mood,” which is far from true. If anything, the mood is much more positive when both partners feel safe and can freely communicate about what they want. 

Here are some suggestions of things to say:

  • Are you comfortable?
  • Is this okay?
  • Do you want to slow down?
  • Do you want to go any further?



What consent looks like:

  • Communicating every step of the way. 
  • Respecting that when they don’t say “no,” it doesn’t mean “yes.” Consent is a clear and enthusiastic yes! If someone seems unsure, stays silent, doesn’t respond, or says “Maybe…” then they aren’t saying “yes.”
  • Breaking away from gender “rules.” Girls are not the only ones who might want to take it slow. Also, it’s not a guy’s job to initiate the action (or anything else, really).



What consent does NOT look like:

  • Assuming that dressing sexy, flirting, accepting a ride, accepting a drink etc. is in any way consenting to anything more.
  • Saying yes (or saying nothing) while under the influence of drugs or alcohol.
  • Saying yes or giving in to something because you feel too pressured or too afraid to say no.



Here are some red flags that indicate your partner doesn’t respect consent:

  • They pressure or guilt you into doing things you may not want to do.
  • They make you feel like you “owe” them — because you’re dating, or they gave you a gift, etc.
  • They react negatively (with sadness, anger or resentment) if you say “no” to something, or don’t immediately consent.
  • They ignore your wishes and don’t pay attention to nonverbal cues that could show you’re not consenting (ex: pulling/pushing away).



Get Consent Every Time

In a healthy relationship, it’s important to discuss and respect each other’s boundaries on an ongoing basis. It’s not okay to assume that once someone consents to an activity, it means they are consenting to it anytime in the future as well. A person can decide to stop an activity at any time, even if they agreed to it earlier. Above all, everyone has a right to their own body and to feel comfortable with how they use it.



Setting Boundaries 

To have the healthiest relationship, both partners should know each other’s wants, goals, fears and limits. You should feel comfortable honestly communicating your needs to your partner without being afraid of what they might do in response. If your partner tells you that your needs are stupid, gets angry with you or goes against what you’re comfortable with, then your partner is not showing you the respect you deserve.

Talking about your boundaries with your partner is a great way to make sure that each person’s needs are being met and you feel safe in your relationship. 



Have Fun - Be Smart - Be Safe