Alcohol and Consent

Too wasted for some sexy fumbling?

Alcohol often shakes us free of our anxieties, especially when it comes to initiating something beyond friendship.

A few shots of confidence and we’re feeling ready to show our moves.

So it’s not that surprising that many sexual situations involve alcohol.

But what does that mean for consent?

Alcohol and consent… this is where it can get a bit tricky.

Legally, sexual consent means that a person freely agrees to sexual activity. That includes the ability to make a choice.

Alcohol and drugs can take away that ability to make a choice because they take away our understanding of a situation.

Unfortunately, there’s no magic number of drinks that means sex remains consensual.

Everyone has varying tolerances of alcohol, and it affects us all differently.

Well, how do I know that someone is too drunk to consent to sex?

Here are some definite signs that someone does not have the capacity to consent to sexual activity:

‼️ lack of bodily control

‼️ slurred speech

‼️ confusion

‼️ unconsciousness

‼️ blackouts

But, as said above, everyone has varying tolerances of alcohol and it affects us all differently.

Someone may appear fine whilst the drink is still affecting their decision-making.

It’s also very important to remember that just because someone initiates sex, it doesn’t mean that they’re necessarily thinking straight.

So, even if they want to have sex with me, I can’t just say yes?

Alcohol affects our decisions, so no, it’s not that simple.

The law is clear that if someone’s ability to consent is hindered by alcohol or drugs, they can’t give consent.

But, more than the legal side of it, sex is about pleasure for everyone involved, which is down to communication.

Alcohol affects our communication skills: how we read other people, how we express ourselves, how we say yes or no.

So, how can we consent when our communication skills are down?

So, basically, I can’t have sex at all if either of us have been drinking?

It isn’t that clear cut!

Basically, it’s about being aware of how alcohol affects you and others. It changes our abilities to communicate and read each other’s body language – generally for the worse.

If you think you might be too drunk to pick up on someone’s signals, then it’s best to pause.

It’s okay to say that you feel too drunk and need to sober up first. Or suggest they sober up. Or it may be best if you both take a time out. 

Remember: anyone can withdraw consent at any point. People can say no at any time, even if you are mid-fumbling. Especially if you’re mid-fumbling.

If someone asks you to stop, then stop immediately.

More than that, if someone seems unsure, reluctant or silent, then stop and check if they’re okay.

It was going so well, but now…?

People’s behaviour can change very quickly when under the influence of alcohol.

We can go from seemingly hyper-alert and in full control, to unconscious or confused.

Look out for these changes. They’re very normal after drinking alcohol.

If they do start to fade out of consciousness or lose bodily control, slur their speech or seem confused, then stop straight away.

It’s okay to explain that you’ve stopped because you feel they’re too drunk and you’re not sure sex is what they want.

It’s crucial to make sure they are back to themselves and sober before you/they initiate sex again.

Alcohol and consent… it’s all about the ability to communicate!

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