Thinking about Consent


“When we don’t consent to flirting, when it’s not reciprocated and it’s repeated, it is harassment. Hissing “slut” at women is harassment. Rape threats online is harassment.”

A contribution by Aylssa Cowell

There are only two legitimate reasons for sex: fun or procreation. I cannot think of any other circumstance for it to be okay if it is not fun. If it stops being fun, then it should stop too, unless you’re desperate and are both consenting to get pregnant.

Sex should never hurt.

Consent cannot be given if the person is asleep, passed out, or if you are threatening or hurting them to comply.

But then most sexual assault and rape is about power, not sex. Assault of the sexual kind is about getting what you want, about getting yourself off, your own selfish wants and desires with complete disregard of the other person or people you’re doing it to.




Both are such simple words, but when it comes to sex, they are sometimes difficult to say. Worried about what will happen if we say ‘no’ and they go ahead anyway, or worse? We’re always thinking three steps ahead. “If I say no, what are the consequences? What about this? If I show them, I’m not into this, they will stop. They’ll have to stop… right?”

But when unable to voice ‘no’, we scream it with our body language. We throw off signs like:

becoming still,

not responding,

turning away,

face dropping,

looking unhappy,

we’re just not into it… you can see we’re just not into it… we are hiding in our minds wanting it to be over,

please just hurry up and let this be over.

“But if they weren’t into it, why didn’t they fight back,” others will judge later, “Surely, they would’ve fought back because that’s what I would do.”

That’s because so many of us do not that that the common response to trauma is to freeze.


Too many of you reading this will have your own stories. That time when…The repeated abuse when…

Please know that you did not deserve it and you are believed. The World Health Organisation estimates that worldwide 20 to 25 percent of women and 10 to 15 percent of men will be victims of sexual violence in their lifetime. More will be sexually harassed. How many of us have been creeped out by someone’s behaviour? When does flirting tip over into harassment?

The simple answer is consent. When we don’t consent to flirting, when it’s not reciprocated and it’s repeated, it is harassment. Hissing “slut” at women is harassment. Rape threats online is harassment. Being touched without consent is assault. Are you aware the Brunei Penal Code protects you from this? That there are actual laws in place to help you should you choose that route?

It doesn’t matter what your relationship status is, no one has the legal or moral right to demand any sexual contact without your full & enthusiastic consent. Lack of consent = sexual assault / rape.

Sexual consent should be given freely, it should be informed, reversible and it should be enthusiastic. And it is up to you, regardless of gender, to ensure that your partner consents fully. Just because we agree once to something doesn’t mean we have to do that same thing again. Just because we do one thing doesn’t mean we have to do the next.

So, what does enthusiastic consent look like in real life?

It looks like enjoyment.

It looks like smiles and laughter, and pulling closer.

It sounds like ‘yes’.

It considers all forms of communication – the words that we say, how we say them, and our body language. It checks that all of these are in alignment – that they all are saying ‘yes – this is fun’. It takes into account that a slight push away of the wrist or a turning away of the head means ‘I’m not into this’.

It verbally asks, ‘is this okay?’


First published by the Songket Alliance here

Published by


Counsellor and Training Specialist supporting Globally Mobile Populations and International Schools.

Leave a Reply