Talking about sex
Sex and sexuality can be a fun and fulfilling part of life. It is your choice whether or not you are sexually active, what kind of sexual activities you partake in, when, and with whom.
It is important to communicate these wants and needs to your partner(s) and, additionally, take into account theirs. The types of sexual encounters that each person prefers are unique and can change over time.
Consensual sex is sexual activity that both people clearly desire and explicitly agree to.
Consensual sex can occur when one person asks to initiate a certain sexual activity, and the other person(s) responds with a free and knowing “Yes.” Ideally it should be enthusiastic as well.
- Free: Without the presence of threat or coercion.
- Knowing: Aware and understanding of the sexual act. Consumption of alcohol and/or other drugs impairs one’s ability to establish consent. If someone is unconscious (e.g., sleeping or passed out), they are not aware and cannot give consent.
- Enthusiastic: Expressing an authentic, active and excited, “Yes.” Silence or passivity does not imply consent.
Consent is an ongoing process throughout sexual interactions. This means that:
- Consent must be obtained for each sexual activity. Consent to one thing does not imply consent to anything else. It does not matter whether someone has consented to any kind of sexual activity in the past.
- Consent can be withdrawn at any time.
Tips for talking with your partner about consent
- Think about your desires and boundaries
- Make specific requests
- Speak up if you are unsure
- Speak up if you change your mind
- Check in with your partner
- Ask if you want to do something else
- Ask every time, and be open to any response; accept a “no” as readily as a “yes”
Considerations for casual sex or hook ups
Casual sex might involve someone you don’t know very well or have never been sexual with in the past, so understanding their sexual likes and dislikes in addition to their boundaries might be tricky. However, regardless of your relationship type, consent is ALWAYS mandatory for any kind of sexual activity.
In order to ensure everyone is enjoying themselves, here are some suggestions for navigating casual sex or hook ups:
- Engaging in casual sexual encounters might require more verbal vs. non-verbal consent and specific communication to ensure consent is present.
- Just because your last partner liked a certain act doesn’t mean your next partner will also like that act.
- In addition to asking your partner what they like, be sure to communicate your desires and boundaries as well.
- Sexual conduct without consent, or after consent has been revoked, is sexual assault.
For more information about sexual assault, refer to the UTS Sexual Assault Resource Page
It is important to ensure that sexual experiences are safe, healthy and pleasurable. Many sexually transmitted infections (STIs) have no symptoms, which means they can be transmitted without either partner’s knowledge. Therefore, it is important to:
- Have an STI test every year or more frequently if you start a new relationship. Seek treatment if necessary.
- Discuss your sexual history with your partner(s) before sex
- Use a condom or barrier method correctly every time you have oral, vaginal or anal sex.
- Consider taking emergency contraception if you have had unprotected sex or if you suspect condom breakage.
You might like to discuss questions about sexuality or sexual health, and get support around these matters from a trained professional. To make a confidential appointment with a UTS doctor or counsellor, please call the Student Services Unit on 9514 1177 during office hours.