(con)sensual is a dynamic, sex-positive campaign about enthusiastic consent. The campaign works to create safe spaces for dialogue on consent, educate college students about consent and their sexual rights, and encourage young people to integrate consent into their sexual practices. We love sex, and we love you. We live online here and on Twitter. (Our website is on the way.)
(con)sensual currently lives at American University in Washington, DC, where it was founded in 2009. The campaign will be available to all campuses nationwide within the year.
The bad news is, there isn’t one test to tell when someone is too intoxicated to consent to sex. (Well, maybe there is—one could make an argument about blood alcohol content perhaps, but college students don’t carry breathalyzers last time I checked so let’s move along). And so when we talk about alcohol and consent, it’s a conversation about open communication with your partner if they’ve been drinking—checking in with them, making sure they are enthusiastically, affirmatively consenting to whatever you’re doing together. Clearly people are sometimes going to get drunk and have sex. And the presence of alcohol in someone’s bloodstream does not automatically make it rape. But there’s a spectrum of intoxication. If someone is physically impaired by their drinking (or drug use), you can tell. They are getting sick, their body is limp, they’re not able to communicate clearly with you. It’s a common sense situation. If it’s less obvious, you know they have been drinking but you’re not sure how much and they seem OK, that’s where communication is key, and honestly—if it’s unclear how drunk your partner is and you feel conflicted, then maybe just play it safe and don’t do it. Instincts are there for a reason. You’ll have another chance to have sex, but sexual assault is permanent.