Coercion vs Consent

You might have heard the terms ‘coercion’ and ‘consent’ being used before, and wondered what the difference is exactly. People often think that when someone coerces you (persuades you to do something by using force or threats), it means that you have given consent, but that’s actually not the case – especially when it comes to sex and intimacy. Read on to get a detailed explanation of what consent and coercion really mean.

What is coercion?

Coercion is when you use force or manipulation to persuade someone to do something they don’t want to do. It can involve anything from emotional abuse to threats and even physical violence. It is quite common for people not to be aware that it exists because they think that just because someone convinced them to do something then they have consented.

For example, if you tell your partner that you don’t want to have sex with them and they get angry or accuse you of not loving them until you eventually give in – this is coercion.

What is Consent?

Consent is an agreement to do something. For example, willingly agreeing to engage in sexual activity with your partner. Many people think that being in an intimate relationship with someone means you automatically agree to having sex or doing any other sexual activities with them but this is not true, Choma. You should never have sex just because your partner wants to.

Remember that no one is entitled to your body, so you don’t have to kiss, hug, or have sex (including oral sex) with someone unless you absolutely want to. Partners also need each other’s consent if they would like to have unprotected sex (I DO NOT encourage this, Choma). If your partner removes the condom without your consent, it is called ‘stealthing’ and it is considered a form of sexual assault.

How to determine consent

When you are in a relationship you must be able to communicate with your partner and openly agree or disagree to any activity that needs you/your body to participate. Your silence should not automatically mean that you have consented – you need to communicate this with your partner.

It is the responsibility of the person that wants any type of activity to obtain the other person’s consent. It does not matter if the person who needs to give consent has given it before, it needs to be given every single time.

Consent is not based on what someone is wearing, either, so nobody should touch you or say anything sexual to you just because you are wearing a revealing outfit.  Another important thing to remember is that someone who is heavily intoxicated, passed out or asleep cannot consent to anything. This means that having sex with someone in this state is rape. Accepting a social invitation, a drink or food from someone is not consent either, nor does it imply that you would like to engage in anything sexual with them.

You can change your mind at any time

You are allowed to change your mind at any point – even during sex. It’s important to clearly communicate to your partner that you are no longer comfortable and wish to stop. No one should make you feel uncomfortable just because you don’t want to do something, whether you agreed to do it previously or not.

It’s important to make a habit of communicating with your partner and making sure to get each other’s permission every time either of you wants to engage in any physical activity. If you are unsure about something, it’s better to check with your partner and always be clear with them about your own feelings.

Should you or a friend need advice or help, you can contact me on Ask Choma, send me a Facebook Messagea Twitter DM, or a WhatsApp Message (071 172 3657).