Where does safe sex start? Most students may assume that safe sex only involves the use of contraception but in reality, safe sex can start long before the bedroom. The key to safe sex, in addition to contraceptives is consent. Consent is a concept that most people understand but may not apply to their bedroom practices. It generally means that BOTH parties have to agree and give permission for something to happen. Often, we forget to ask if our partners are feeling okay or comfortable before initiating sex.
While this may seem easy to understand, the water become murky because many societal and cultural factors come into effect. Movies for example, regularly depict women as contradicting and when they say no, they may mean yes. While people can change their minds easily, when your partner says no, you should stop. The exception is if you’ve established a safe word or a way to say no when you mean no. This video by Blue Seat Studios, explains consent by using tea time as an example and is a good for those who are still confused.
Age should also be taken into consideration when talking about consent. The age of consent is the age at which people can legally have sex. 16-18 are the average age of consent many countries around the world. Minors who are looking to engage in sexual activity should research their state’s age of consent laws.
How To Say “No”
Trinity College Foundation Studies student Weimin Jiang faces a consent dilemma, while he is over the age of consent and has a girlfriend, he wonders how he should turn her invitation for sex down because he wants to concentrate on his studies. He feels guilty and does not want to hurt her feelings.
This dilemma is faced not only by students and teenagers but also adults. Saying no can be hard and confrontation is never easy. So how can a person say “no”?
Just Say “No”
People often feel guilty after declining their partner. They may believe that their relationship will be negatively affected but if you say no and explain your reasoning, even as simple as you are not ready or don’t feel like having sex, partners that respect and treasure you will understand.
In a situation where your partner may be a stranger and saying no may mean facing a confrontational situation, try to reject politely and avoid harsh confrontrational words. Call 000 or keep a close friend/family member on speed dial if you ever feel threatened or unsafe.
For Future Lovebirds
Before getting into a relationship, couples should talk about what they are getting into. They should establish a line to ensure safety and comfort for both parties. Knowing what your partner is comfortable with from the get-go will help you avoid any potential problems in the future. You have to understand that consent may vary from person to person and there is no excuse for crossing the line for your own pleasure.
In the case of an emergency, call the Australian emergency telphone number at 000. For students who have experienced sexual assault or have any inquiries, below are a list of organisations that may be of help:
- Family Planning Victoria – comprehensive sexual and reproductive health services for people of all ages Tel. 1800 013 952 or (03) 9257 0100
- Melbourne Sexual Health Centre – Tel. (03) 9341 6200 or 1800 032 017 or TTY (for people with a hearing impairment) (03) 9347 8619
- Thorne Harbour Health – For information about LGBTI and sexual health Tel. (03) 9865 6700 or 1800 134 840
This story was produced by Media and Communication students at Trinity College Foundation Studies as part of Meld’s community newsroom collaboration. Education institutions, student clubs/societies and community groups interested in being involved can get in touch with us via firstname.lastname@example.org.