Consent is an essential part of every positive sexual experience and we absolutely agree with Project Respect’s definition of consent that states, “Consent is a mutual verbal, physical, and emotional agreement that happens without manipulation, threats, or head games.”
One of the acronyms we are into for sexual consent is ACE;
Active – Active consent recognizes that consent is an ongoing process during sex. All partners should be actively involved in communicating their likes, dislikes, wants, comfort levels, needs, and boundaries with each other through their experience. Consent or saying yes isn’t something that happens once, it needs to happen continuously as the experience progresses and with each sexual experience. Just because someone is okay with kissing and touching over the clothes does not mean they are okay with touching underneath the clothes, etc. There is no room for assumptions!
Communication - Consent is all about communication – verbal and nonverbal! Communicating with yourself and your partner to know your likes, dislikes, needs, wants and boundaries and communicating with a partner about their likes, dislikes, needs, wants and boundaries. Communication is probably the biggest skill we need when it comes to sex and a positive experience. It’s difficult to do but it becomes easier the more you practice it! Here’s some great tips from Scarleteen on how to communicate with a partner and verbal signs of consent and no consent.
Enthusiastic - Enthusiastic consent is the basis of all positive sexual relationships. We believe it means that each person is as into their partner’s sexual experiences as much as their own and that each person is able to give their consent enthusiastically without any type of pressure. Here’s a great article from feministing about how enthusiastic consent makes sex hot.
What is the age of legal sexual consent (permission to have sex) for youth in Canada?
As of May 2008, Canadian law states that the legal age of sexual consent is 16 years of age.
If you are under the age of 16, there is a close in age exception which is:
- If you are 14 or 15, your partner must be < (less than) 5 years older than you
- If you are 12 or 13, your partner must be < (less than) 2 years older than you.
If you are under 12, there is no ability to consent to sex.
The other exception to this law is if one of the partners is in a position of authority or power over the other person (coach, manager, babysitter, mentor), it would not be considered consensual sex.
For more information on sex and the law, our amazing colleagues at OPT BC have great information on Sex and the Law.
Here’s the official information from The Department of Justice:
What is Canada’s age of consent?
The age of consent for sexual activity is 16 years. It was raised from 14 years on May 1, 2008 by the Tackling Violent Crime Act.
However, the age of consent is 18 years where the sexual activity “exploits” the young person — when it involves prostitution, pornography or occurs in a relationship of authority, trust or dependency (e.g., with a teacher, coach or babysitter). Sexual activity can also be considered exploitative based on the nature and circumstances of the relationship, e.g., the young person’s age, the age difference between the young person and their partner, how the relationship developed (quickly, secretly, or over the Internet) and how the partner may have controlled or influenced the young person.
Are there any exceptions to this?
The Criminal Code provides “close in age” or “peer group” exceptions.
For example, a 14 or 15 year old can consent to sexual activity with a partner as long as the partner is less than five years older and there is no relationship of trust, authority or dependency or any other exploitation of the young person. This means that if the partner is 5 years or older than the 14 or 15 year old, any sexual activity will be considered a criminal offence unless it occurs after they are married to each other (in accordance with the “solemnization” of marriage requirements that are established in each province and territory, governing how and when a marriage can be performed, including the minimum age at which someone may marry).
There is also a “close-in-age” exception for 12 and 13 year olds: a 12 or 13 year old can consent to sexual activity with another young person who is less than two years older and with whom there is no relationship of trust, authority or dependency or other exploitation of the young person.