Skip to contentSkip to navigation

"Yes Means Yes": Affirmative Consent

What is Affirmative Consent?yes means yes

In 2014, California became the first state in the nation to pass an Affirmative Consent Law which requires colleges and universities to evaluate complaints of sexual assault under an “affirmative consent” standard.  It is the responsibility of each person involved in the sexual activity to ensure that they have the affirmative consent of the other(s) to engage in the sexual activity. If you do not have affirmative consent, it is sexual misconduct.

You always have the right to say NO! You have the right to revoke consent at any time

Affirmative Consent means an informed, affirmative, conscious, voluntary, and mutual agreement to engage in mutually agreed-upon sexual activity.

  • Consent must be voluntary
  • Consent to one type of sexual activity does not give consent to any other types of sexual activity
  • Consent to sexual activity on one occasion does not give consent to sexual activity on another occasion
  • Consent can be withdrawn or revoked
  • Consent cannot be given if someone is incapacitated due to drugs and/or alcohol
  • Consent can never be given from someone under the age of 18
  • A person with a medical or mental disability may lack the ability to give consent
  • Lack of protest does not mean consent
  • Silence does not mean consent

Remember that whoever is initiating the sexual act has the responsibility of confirming consent.


Individuals are NOT giving consent if they are:

saying "no" or "stop beaten
crying threatened
completely still or disengaged confined
incapacitated due to drugs and/or alcohol passed out
pushing someone away physically or psychologically forced or pressured
moving away intimidated
drugged or high coerced
asleep manipulated
mentally or physically impaired unconscious 


Additional Information on Affirmative Consent

  • Consent must be voluntary, and given without coercion, force, threats, or intimidation. Consent requires positive cooperation in a particular sexual act, or expression of intent to engage in that sexual act through the exercise of free will.
  • Consent can be withdrawn or revoked. Consent to one form of sexual activity (or one sexual act) does not constitute consent to other forms of sexual activity (or other sexual acts). Consent to sexual activity given on one occasion does not constitute consent to sexual activity on another occasion. The fact that two people are or were in a dating or sexual relationship does not constitute consent to engage in sexual activity. There must always be mutual and affirmative consent to engage in sexual activity. Consent to a sexual act may be withdrawn or revoked at any time, including after penetration. The victim's request for the perpetrator to use a condom or birth control does not, in and of itself, constitute consent. Once consent is withdrawn or revoked, the sexual activity must stop immediately.
  • Consent cannot be given by a person who is incapacitated. For example, a person cannot give consent if s/he is unconscious or coming in and out of consciousness. A person is incapacitated if s/he lacks the physical and/or mental ability to make informed, rational judgments. Examples of incapacitation include unconsciousness, sleep and blackouts. Whether an intoxicated person (as a result of using alcohol or other drugs) is incapacitated depends on the extent to which the alcohol or other drugs impact the person's decision-making capacity, awareness of consequences, and ability to make fully informed judgments. A person with a medical or mental disability may also lack the capacity to give consent.
  • Being intoxicated by drugs or alcohol does not diminish a person's responsibility to obtain consent from the other party before engaging in sexual activity. Factors to be considered include whether the person knew, or whether a reasonable person in the accused's position should have known, that the victim did not give, or revoked, consent; was incapacitated; or was otherwise incapable of giving consent.
  • Sexual intercourse with a minor is never consensual when the victim is under 18 years old, because the victim is considered incapable of giving legal consent due to age.


Although this video doesn't reflect all aspects of the affirmative consent policy, it may help initiate conversations about consent and healthy sexual relationships.