Consent Matters

Launched in January 2016, The Consent Matters campaign (#consentmatterssfu) is an annual campaign hosted by the Sexual Violence Support & Prevention Office (SVSPO). This year the campaign is taking place from September 14th to 18th, 2020.

Join us to learn more about why consent matters especially during a time of physical distancing. Scroll down to learn more about the definition of consent, why consent matters and how to practice it.

Learn more about what students are saying.

Learn more about what staff and faculty are saying.

Learn more about what the SVSPO staff are saying here and here.

Participate in the ongoing conversation about why consent matters and follow us on Facebook and Instagram, or by signing up to receive the SVSPO newsletter, “Care & Consent”.

Are you interested in learning more about consent and healthy relationships? Visit our site to book a workshop.

What is consent?

Consent means clear, ongoing and voluntary agreement to engage in sexual activities. Consent is informed, freely given, and actively communicated as demonstrated by words or conduct objectively assessed. For clarity, Consent:
a.   is a freely given “yes”;
b.   cannot be given by someone who is incapacitated, including for example a person who is asleep or unconscious;
c.   can never be obtained through threats, coercion or other pressure tactics;
d.   can be revoked at any time, regardless of whether other sexual activities or agreements have taken place;
e.   cannot be obtained if someone abuses a position of trust, power or authority over another person; and
f.   cannot be assumed from previous consent to the same or similar activities.

What Can You Do to Create a Culture of Consent On Campus? 

1. Understand What Sexual Violence Actually Is.

Sexual Violence is any sexual behavior, actions, or threats that are unwanted and take place without consent. Anyone of any gender, sexuality, race or ethnicity can commit or experience sexual violence. 

Examples: sexual assault; sharing naked pictures without permission; stalking; watching someone undress without their permission. 

2. Understanding Consent.

Consent means a clear, ongoing and voluntary agreement to engage in sexual activities. Consent is informed, freely given and actively communicated by words, body language or other forms of communication. It is always the responsibility of the person initiating sexual activity to ensure they have consent.

It is also important to know that someone who is incapacitated (ie. by alcohol or drugs, asleep or unconscious) is not able to consent. If you are unsure how drunk or high someone is- don't initiate sexual activity - you risk causing harm.

3. Understanding Coercion and Boundaries

If your relationship involves sexual activity, it is important that you and your partner(s) understand consent. Sexual boundaries are about respecting your own limitations, as well as respecting the limits of your partner(s). When someone says ‘no’ it is important to listen and not take further action. People may communicate ‘no’ in different ways, so part of respecting someone’s boundary starts with really listening to words and also body language.

Learning about others needs and boundaries as well as your own is super important for a positive sexual experience. Recognizing your level of comfort with a sexual activity and the ability to have a conversation with your partner(s) about their boundaries is key. Pressuring someone to do what you want is coercion and can cause harm.

4. Understand the Myths Surrounding Sexual Violence and Rape Culture.

Rape culture is a culture in which dominant ideas, laws, social practices, media images and institutions normalize or trivialize sexual violence. Rape culture involves blaming someone for sexual violence they have experienced.

You may have examples of what rape culture looks like and sounds like. You've probably heard someone use the expression "that exam raped me", or heard comments about sexual assault such as "they were asking for it""they shouldn't have gotten that drunk" or "look at what they were wearing!"

Those are examples of rape culture and victim blaming. You might think that those types of comments or jokes are harmless, but making light of sexual violence and blaming survivors for their experience is not ok and can be very harmful. Victim blaming can create barriers for survivors accessing support services and impact people in a variety of ways.

Click here to find out more about our Consent workshops.