Well, I'm here to tell you that Consent is Easy! And-- you're probably already doing it in many aspects of your life, or at least exercising similar skills. Remember, from my last post, that "Consent is not just about sex"!
Let me give you an example of how easy consent is:
Let's say you have a few friends over for dinner, and you make your famous spaghetti, sauce, meatballs, and Italian bread. Everyone is sitting at the table. Plates are being filled. Everyone is ready to eat. You take out the grated cheese because you really want some, but, being a good host or hostess, you first offer the cheese to your guests. "Would you like some cheese?" you ask pleasantly. Two friends say, "No, thanks!" And dig in to their delicious, cheese-less meal. One offers an explanation, "I'm vegan" she explains, evident also by the lack of meatballs on her plate. Your other friend offers no explanation, possibly because it's none of your business, possibly because his mouth is too full of spaghetti. Another friend says, "I'll have cheese!" And as you shake some Parmesan onto her plate, you say, "Tell me when!" She tells you when the amount of cheese is to her liking. You stop and move on to the next friend's plate.
There is so much consent happening here!
1) Asking (vs. just starting to shake cheese on random plates). This is a sure way to be respectful and recognize that other people have volition of their own (by giving them the option to say yes or no). This is also sure to make people happy (vs. piling cheese on someone's plate when they don't like cheese). This is also a great way to keep people safe and healthy (they might have an allergy or intolerance or other issues with eating cheese).
These are all the same reasons it's important to get and give consent in lots of areas of life, whether that's a discussion about a traumatic event, snuggling up during a movie, or something more sexual.
2) Respecting friend's preferences for NO cheese. They might offer explanations or not. Fine either way. Vegan? Lactose-intolerant? Dairy allergy? Just *gasp*...don't like cheese? Not my place to judge. You don't want cheese, that's your thing and it's cool!
3) Your friend wants cheese and you communicate to make sure she's happy about how this happens.
You don't just give her one shake of delicious cheese that'll be gone in one bite if she wants more, and you don't pile on the whole container if she doesn't want so much. The amount of cheese she gets is up to her and her preferences.
Consent is that easy. Do you want X? More? Less? What about Y?