Some Common Questions About Consent

How drunk is too drunk? How high is too high?

After someone is drinking, it does become harder to convey consent to another person – or to determine that a partner has consented to sex.  Reason:

  • Alcohol affects the ability to communicate clearly.
  • People may be more likely to willfully disregard messages they are being sent if they are drinking.
  • Alcohol can give people tunnel vision, which makes them more determined to get that one thing they are focused on.
  • Alcohol can increase aggressiveness, which can be disastrous when it comes to sex.

While alcohol can’t be blamed for causing a crime, we also can’t pretend it has no effect on people’s experiences.

What if we are both drunk/high?

In sexual activity there is generally one person who is initiating the sexual activity and if that person was drunk they are still responsible for obtaining consent.  In Canada, the standard for drunkenness as a defense is so high that someone who engages in sexual activity will not pass the standard.

What if they said yes before?

Consent is one of the most fundamental parts of sex, but we spend surprisingly little time talking about it.  Consent is not just a word it is a conversation about what is okay sexually and what is not.  Consent is required each time you have sex and for each sexual activity.  Now if you have had a conversation and your partner says, ‘you don’t need to ask me if you want to kiss me’ then you have ongoing consent to kiss your partner.  That’s why consent is so important—it establish the boundaries around your sexual relationship.

Other Resources

Close in age exception  –  age of consent to sexual activity

Things to consider:

If you or the person you are interested in having sex with is unable to:

 

  • Walk straight
  • Speak clearly and coherent
  • Drive a car
  •  Make significant decisions or
  • Said no sober but is saying yes after they have been drinking

Then you or they are too drunk or too high to competently give consent!                                                                                                                                                          The best rule is that if you or a partner have been drinking, make sure to check in regularly about any sex that you’re having.

Ask things like:
  • Do you still want to do this?
  • Is this okay?
  • Do you need a break?
  • Are you having fun?
  • What do you want to do next?
 If you’re unclear if someone is too intoxicated to give consent, play it safe. There will be other chances, but sexual assault is permanent.