Yes. YES! Yesssss! YASSS!!! Hell yeah! Oh yeah! Yes please! OMG yes! Fuck yes!! YES.
Listen up, babes. ‘Cos THAT’s what we call an enthusiastic yes! The enthusiastic yes. Never heard of the phrase (that’s low key revolutionising consent laws across the world)? Read on.
So. The legal definition varies slightly across Australia, but most places define consent as a “free and voluntary agreement.” Super affirmative, right?
Which is kind of crazy, considering we’ve pretty much grown up with the phrase ‘no means no’, rather than, well, ‘yes means yes’.
Almost a decade ago, true rad girls Jessica Valenti and Jaclyn Friedman co-authored and edited ‘Yes Means Yes: Visions of Female Sexual Power and A World Without Rape’ (2008), popularising a new (and tbh, way more accurate) definition of consent. This refreshed definition meant that absence of “no” was not enough, and that only a freely-given “yes” meant that sex was indeed consensual.
Their sentiment resonated with councils, institutions and states across the world, with many US college campuses (particularly in California), and even countries like Spain legally redefining consent as affirmative, conscious, voluntary, verbal or non-verbal, and something that can be revoked at any time. NSW Minister for the Prevention of Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault, Pru Goward, is a notable supporter of ‘yes means yes’, stating that it was “not enough to assume that you have been given consent… You must explicitly ask for permission to have sex. If it’s not an enthusiastic yes, then it’s a no,”.
With Australia – and the world’s – ingrained cultural emphasis on ‘no means no’ rather than ‘yes means yes’, you’d think the actual definition of sexual consent would be ‘free and voluntary disagreement’. And while it’s very true – no most definitely does mean no – this phrasing deeply reflects the way women are perceived (and have been nurtured to) not want or enjoy sex. Which is so not true! Sex is bomb! Especially when everyone involved is present, engaged and enthusiastic.
Here’s what this all means for you, babes:
- Stay true to your rights.
- Embrace your sexuality (and enjoy it).
- Consent is not the absence of no.
- Consent is the presence of an enthusiastic yes. When it feels right and you’re keen AF, say hell fucking yes!
Keen to check out the laws around consent (and everything in between)? Head to the Australian Law Reform Commission site here. (Warning: get ready for some serious legal jargon).