Virtual Defining Masculinity Series
Understanding Consent
Seth Snoap, Men As Allies Coordinator 

When you hear the word “consent”, perhaps you get flashbacks to a health course in school where you spent a day discussing what consent looks like. Maybe you’ve even watched the popular “Consent Tea” video, and then never talked about it again. For many of us, it seemed like the conversation of consent was another box to quickly check off in health class in order for us to say “Of course I know what consent is, we talked about it that one time!” However, consent is not another box to check off, but a vital concept we all need to fully comprehend and incorporate into our everyday lives.  

As important as consent is, we don’t talk about it enough. So, it’s understandable if you’re a little unsure about what it is – and what it isn’t. The term “consent” means the affirmative, unambiguous and voluntary agreement to engage in a specific activity which can be revoked at any time. Consent, while it may seem like a simple topic to some, is often missing from physical encounters. 

Every 73 seconds an American is sexually assaulted. 1 in 3 women and 1 in 6 men have experienced sexual violence in their life. Clearly, these statistics portrays that as a society, we really don’t comprehend consent and it’s something that needs to be discussed regularly – not just once.  

I’m asking you to push yourself and think critically about consent and what it truly looks like in our lives. Think outside of the normal “yes or no” mindset. Ask yourself what does consent look like with my friends? What does consent look like with my coworkers? We need to push ourselves to participate in, if not lead, conversations about consent outside of the one-time classroom discussion. Consent is a vital part of human interaction and a one and done mindset is not good enough.  

Be an ally for change and have this conversation with the young men and boys in your life. Click here for a guided outline on discussing Understanding Consent 

Click here to watch a recording of our virtual conversation on Understanding Consent



Department of Justice, Office of Justice Programs, Bureau of Justice Statistics, National Crime Victimization Survey, 2018 (2019). Note: RAINN applies a 5-year rolling average to adjust for changes in the year-to-year NCVS survey data.  

The National Intimate Partner and Sexual Violence Survey (NISVS: 2010-2012 State Report. Atlanta, GA. National Center for Injury Prevention and Control, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.