These 3 Clever Analogies Make The Definition Of Sexual Consent Crystal Clear

Because it really can be confusing for everyone.

Clever Analogies Explain The Definition Of Affirmative Sexual Consent In The Post-Aziz Ansari Era weheartit

Heated discussions about what should or shouldn't count as sexual consent broke out across social media and news outlets this week after a young woman using the alias "Grace" shared her story of an uncomfortable at best, abusive at worst, evening she spent with actor and comedian Aziz Ansari

The legal definition of consent varies from state to state, and in real life situations, evaluating whether or not consent has been given can be understandably tricky and confusing. 



RELATED: I'm A Sex Worker And Consent Is Complicated


As explained by RAINN (Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network):

"Consent is an agreement between participants to engage in sexual activity... Consent doesn’t have to be verbal, but verbally agreeing to different sexual activities can help both you and your partner respect each other’s boundaries. Giving consent for one activity, one time, does not mean giving consent for increased or recurring sexual contact. For example, agreeing to kiss someone doesn’t give that person permission to remove your clothes... You can change your mind at any time. You can withdraw consent at any point if you feel uncomfortable.


Positive consent can look like this:

  • Communicating when you change the type or degree of sexual activity with phrases like 'Is this OK?'
  • Explicitly agreeing to certain activities, either by saying “yes” or another affirmative statement, like 'I’m open to trying.'
  • Using physical cues to let the other person know you’re comfortable taking things to the next level

It does NOT look like this:

  • Refusing to acknowledge 'no'
  • Assuming that wearing certain clothes, flirting, or kissing is an invitation for anything more
  • Someone being under the legal age of consent, as defined by the state
  • Someone being incapacitated because of drugs or alcohol
  • Pressuring someone into sexual activity by using fear or intimidation
  • Assuming you have permission to engage in a sexual act because you’ve done it in the past"

Of course, all humans learns differently, and some people, mostly men people, but certainly not exclusively, find definitions like this confusing.

It's for this reason that, in 2015, the Thames Valley Police (in the UK) created a PSA titled "Tea and Consent."


As explained in AdWeek when it first debuted:

"After explaining basic consent ('Oh my God, I would love a cup of tea!'), the video dives headfirst into less evident territory. In less than three minutes, it explores a multitude of scenarios where consent gets blurry, from simple (your guest did want tea, but changed his or her mind once you put the kettle on) to less so (your guest isn't really sure how to feel about tea right now).

RELATED: The Actual Definitions Of Sexual Abuse & Sexual Harassment For People Who Think The Rules Have Changed

'If you say 'Hey, would you like a cup of tea?' and they're like, 'Uh, you know, I'm not really sure,' then you can make them a cup of tea, or not, but be aware that that they might not drink it,' the narrator says. 'And if they don't drink it, then — and this is the important bit — don't make them drink it. Just because you made it doesn't mean you're entitled to watch them drink it. And if they say, 'No, thank you', then don't make them tea. At all.'"


The video above shows the "clean" version, which was edited from the uncensored original. The analogy was so well received that there is now also a kid-friendly version, and the campaign, now known as #ConsentIsEverything, continues to grow.

Over the course of this week's online debates, these three additional analogies explaining consent in easy-to-understand terms surfaced on Facebook, and we just had to pass them on. 



1. The Pepper Man

This light-hearted yet straight to the heart of the matter explanation was written by Caissie St. Onge, the Emmy-nominated producer and comedy writer formerly of "The Late Show With David Letterman", "The Rosie O'Donnell Show", and "VH1's Best Week Ever," who is currently the co-executive producer of "Watch What Happens Live! with Andy Cohen" on Bravo.

You know how when you’re in a restaurant and the waiter comes over with his little pepper partner and asks, “Would you like some pepper?”


You either say “No, thank you.”

And the pepper man cheerily and politely walks away.

Or you say, “Yes, please.”

And then the pepper man starts grinding and grinding until you say, “That’s enough, thank you!”

And then he stops.

This is consent.

And the whole interaction does not make your dinner less fun or spontaneous. If you say no, the pepper man does not get hurt and start grinding pepper all over your food anyway while you weep. He will get to put pepper on someone’s food at some point and that’s cool by him.

Even if you said, “I’m not sure whether I really want pepper or not?” the pepper man would probably say, “Cool. This pepper mill will be here if you decide you definitely do want pepper later.”

It’s that simple. Treat a person you want to touch with as much respect as the f**king pepper man treats your damn salad, FFS.



2. The $5 Bill Analogy

Nafisa Ahmed, host of the 24 Karat Life Podcast, shared this one in a 2016 Twitter thread. 

"I don't get how rape is so hard to understand for some men. But, if you put it like this, they get it:

If you ask me for $5, and I'm too drunk to say yes or no, it's not okay to then go take $5 out of my purse... Just because I didn't say no.


If you put a gun to my head to get me to give you $5, you still stole $5. Even if I physically handed you $5.

If I let YOU borrow $5, that doesn't give the right for your FRIEND to take $5 out of my purse. "But you gave him some, why can't I?"

If you steal $5 and I can't prove it in court, that does NOT mean you didn't steal $5.

Just because I gave you $5 in the past, doesn't mean I have to give you $5 in the future.

If you can understand alllllll of that, how do you not understand the concept of rape?"


3. The Wallet Analogy

Journalist and editor Anaiis Flox, expanded on Ahmed's $5 bill model, turning it into a wallet.

"If a woman was with a guy and he kept trying to go in her purse, everyone would be outraged, incensed.


'HE DID WHAT?!' would be the general outcry.

No one would ask where the woman was when this happened. It wouldn't matter. Whether in a restaurant or a car or in her house or in his house, going for her wallet would be seen as crossing the line.

People wouldn't even ask if she said no. You don't have to say no when it's property. People are expected to know they can't just help themselves to your wallet. Sure, in a relationship down the line you may share assets, but everyone knows you can't help yourself to people's wallets before everyone's on board.

We're taught to respect property in a way we're not taught to respect women's bodies.

I think one of the most depressing parts about doing community interventions is how often people, especially men, "don't understand" harms of entitlement against women — or don't think it's a big deal — until a property crime is involved or the harm is explained by substituting "her body" with "her money."


Think about how sick that is."

Please feel free to share these stories of consent with anyone you know who is still having trouble understanding why consent matters or what it looks like.

Remember, consent is everything!


RELATED: It Does Not Count As Consent When A Woman Says "I Guess" To Having Sex With You


Senior Editor and happily-former divorce coach & mediator Arianna Jeret is a recognized expert on love, sex, and relationships (except when it comes to her own life, of course) who has been featured in Cosmopolitan, The Huffington Post, Yahoo Style, Fox News, Bustle, Parents and more. Join her Sundays at 10:20 PM EST for answers to ALL of your questions on Facebook Live on YourTango and follow her on Twitter and Instagram.