Whether it’s a first date or you’re in a relationship, feeling pressured to engage in things you’re not down for is not cool. Consent is a constant, active part of any kind of intimacy, and it has layers. You’re entitled to feel safe at all times and have fun on YOUR terms. We tapped Psychologist and Sex Therapist, Kate Balestrieri, to empower us with all the deets.
“Without consent, there is no sex—only violence,” Kate starts.
Let that powerful one-liner sink in.
“So, not only is actively getting consent sexy AF, but it is also necessary. There are different models of consent that float around from time to time, and people sometimes have different understandings of what consent means. The FRIES model of consent is considered the gold standard and is easy to remember (even in the heat of the moment).
Here is a breakdown:
F – Freely Given
R – Reversible
I – Informed
E – Enthusiastic
S – Specific
“For consent to be freely given, it must be coming from a place of free will. The person must be able to legally consent, and it has to come without any pressure, manipulation, coercion, or convincing, and given from a place of sobriety to be considered a valid consent.
“Essential to the validity of consent is the notion that it is reversible, meaning a ‘yes’ can become a ‘no’ at any time during sexual activity. Someone must be able to change their mind at any point, even if you’re in the middle of the act, for consent to be valid. Feelings, likes, and limits change all the time, and a ‘yes’ in one moment does not guarantee a ‘yes’ for all moments. Partners must be able to revoke consent and have that honored, or it never really existed at all.
“Consent exists only when someone knows what they are saying ‘yes’ to, which is why informed consent is so key. Knowing what is happening is imperative. For example, if someone agrees to penetration with a condom and then—unbeknownst to them—their partner does not use a condom, that negates consent because the partner did not have all the information necessary to make an informed decision about their participation.
“If it’s not a ‘hell yeah’ then it should be considered a ‘hell no.’ In other words, consent must be enthusiastic and indicative of a partner’s legitimate want to be sexual, not an expectation put on them or obligation to be sexual.
“Consent is specific. For example, someone may say ‘yes’ to receiving oral sex but not be open to penetrative sex. So assuming their ‘yes’ applies to everything without them knowing about an activity ahead of time, negates the validity of consent. A great way to approach this is to check in with your partner before you try any new sex play and see if they want it too.
“Consent is an imperative aspect of sex, and hot sex is built on the foundation of consent for all behaviors and throughout the sexual experience. Talk about the FRIES model with partners, and use it as a gauge to see how seriously they take your sexual safety and pleasure. It’s a great conversational way to rule out partners who don’t respect your boundaries and make room for people who do! Partnered sex is about co-created pleasure. That can only happen when consent is intact, and pleasure is prioritized equitably.”
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