The XX Factor

Planned Parenthood Shows Us What Consent Looks Like

It’s easy!


On Monday, Planned Parenthood released a series of videos on the subject of consent: what it looks like, how you know you have it, and how to handle rejection without being a jerk about it. Consent education is a big issue right now, and these videos offer sex educators a clear, concise way to illustrate the topic. 

Aimed at people ages 17-22, these videos work because they show viewers that consent simply isn’t confusing. The actors in the third and fourth video model soft refusals, such as telling someone you’re busy right now or making a face and pulling away. It helps show the audience that it’s not as hard to hear someone telling you no as some folks might say. The videos also address the question of alcohol use, showing that the critical issue is to pay attention to see if someone is all there or just needs to be put to bed instead. 

The videos also model what enthusiastic consent looks like, both in terms of verbal consent (which is indistinguishable from sexy talk) and nonverbal (kissing back, reaching for your clothing to remove it). The contrast shows that it is—despite what critics of affirmative consent standards saynot that hard to tell the difference between someone who is leaning in and someone who is trying to slow or stop the action.