Legally, if someone has given consent then it means that they agreed to do something by choice and that they had the freedom or the capacity to make that choice. For someone to give consent they have to be able to say “yes!” but it’s just as important that they are able to say “no”.

So, what does it all mean?

Usually people talk about consent when they’re talking about sex, but it actually applies to a lot of things – kissing, cuddling, touching, sharing or storing sexy photos and videos, the whole lot. Not everything, though. The law doesn’t care if you don’t consent to doing your homework or tidying your room. 

Right, that’s easy. It’s all about choice. Got it. I’m going to go back to watc…

Not so fast. It might seem simple, but in practice it can be a bit more complicated. For example, someone might say “yes” to doing something because they’re too scared of what will happen if they say “no” – it could be argued that they chose to say yes, but if they felt like they didn’t have a choice then it’s not really consent.

There are also complications when you add in things like alcohol and drugs. If someone is too drunk or stoned to be classed as being in their right mind, then they’re not in the position to make big decisions and so they can’t consent. There’s obviously a difference from being a little bit giggly (like Auntie Sheila on the sherry at Christmas) and being so drunk you’re unable to give consent, but knowing where that line is can be tricky. 

I know. Complicated, right? They never had to worry about stuff like this on Friends.

So what if consent isn’t there? 

If any of the things mentioned – kissing, cuddling, touching, sharing or storing sexy photos and videos and actually having sex – happen without the full and joyful consent of both parties, then it’s defined by the law as sexual assault or rape.

To protect yourself and the people you’re crushing on, it’s really important to make sure that before you do any of this you make sure that you, and everyone involved, have full consent. 

How do I know if I’ve got consent?

Well, the best way is to just ask! Knowing that you have and giving consent is all about communication. Start with non-verbal communication, i.e. body language – is the person interested and going along with what you’re doing, or are they freezing up and pushing you away. But then body language can only take you so far, so ask questions like “Is this ok?” and “Do you like this?”.

And if it seems too embarrassing to ask a potential pash things like this? Sorry to get lecturey on you, but if you’re not comfortable enough to talk to someone about snogging then you probably shouldn’t be snogging them. 

So, when do I know if I have consent? If we’re in a relationship?

Even if you’re in a relationship, you/they don’t automatically have consent. Even if you’ve been dating someone for ten years, you don’t automatically get consent! And you’re are able to withdraw it at any time. Even mid-snog, if you want to. 

What about if they said ‘no’ initially, but I kept asking and then they said ‘yes’?

Nope. Think back to what we said earlier – feeling able to say “no” is just as important as saying “yes”. If someone has pressured you into saying yes, then you’re not really consenting of your own free will, are you?

Also, er, no one should do this. It’s not the basis for a healthy relationship and is generally not cool. Not cool at all.

When else do I not have automatic consent?

When someone is unconscious or asleep, even if they gave consent beforehand. When someone is being super super flirty – they may well give you consent, but flirting doesn’t guarantee it. Nor does revealing clothing, the fact you’re already kissing, the fact someone said “yes” initially but then changed their mind, or the fact that haven’t explicitly said “no”. A good rule of thumb is that if either party doesn’t seem into it, you should just stop. 

And don’t forget, if you’re under 16 you can’t consent even if you’re awake, happy and in your right mind – because the law considers you too young. Soz. 

So when do I or they have consent?

When you’re both in your right minds, both comfortable with each other, both saying “yes” to whatever you’re doing, both eager and happy to do it and would both feel safe to say “no” and ask the other person to stop at any time. 

We know it sounds complicated, but it’s really not scary and the best thing about it is that the same rules protect you too. It’s really important to remember that you don’t have to do anything that you’re not 100% happy and comfortable doing.

What should I do if I think I’ve had situations where I didn’t give my consent?

Firstly, whatever happened, it’s not your fault. Secondly, talk to someone. If you don’t feel comfortable talking to an adult, teacher or parent, you could always try a friend. If you don’t even feel comfortable talking about it with a friend yet, you can always talk to Childline for free confidential advice 24 hours a day, seven days a week. 

It’s time you started celebrating your period, guys. Sign up to bettybox RN and get all your tampons and pads, beauty products, sweet treats and loads more cool stuff delivered to your door, every single month. We know. It’s totally awesome. 

What did you call your vagina when you were a child? Did you call it anything at all? Were you even taught the difference between vaginas and vulvas?

I didn’t learn any of that until biology at school; at home my brother and I called our genitalia ‘wee-wee’s, and any other ‘difficult’ parts of the anatomy – breasts, testicles, weird moles – my mother just wrote off as ‘do-do’s and left us to figure out the rest. So out of curiosity, I decided to ask women I know what they called their vaginas and vulvas as kids. And the results are AMAZING.

1. There

2. Down There

3. The Thing

4. Bits

5. Bottom

6. Front Bottom

7. Wee-wee

8. Moneybox

9. Purse

10. Tuppence

11. Lady Garden

12. Tiddler

13. Miffy

14. VG

15. Foufou

16. Doodle

17. Doodie

18. Noony

19. Nunny

20. Minnie

21. Mooey

22. Minnie-moo

23. Mary

24. Wendy

25. Twinkie

26. Twinkle

27. Mimsy

28. Pry-pry

29. Foof

30. Fairy

31. Flower

32. Fanny

33. Wanny

34. Gee

35. Hoop

36. Penny

37. Pam

38. Ying-yang

39. Buntsy

40. Tail

41. Nesty

42. Pinky

43. Chuffy

44. Winkle

45. Gina

46. Pia

47. Chotchi

48. Mimi

49. Bunny

50. Pocket

51. Popkin

52. No-no

53. Noo-noo

54. Felicity

55. Sally

56. Button

57. Loopy-loo

And my personal favourite…

58. Lettuce.

‘Vagina’ doesn’t seem quite so weird now, does it?

@orbyn

It’s time you started celebrating your period, guys. Sign up to bettybox RN and get all your tampons and pads, beauty products, sweet treats and loads more cool stuff delivered to your door, every single month. We know. It’s totally awesome. 

Image: Amber Griffin

Girls in the UK are in the midst of a body confidence crisis, and the cult of ‘perfection’ isn’t helping. Our guest writer Adeola Gbakinro tells us how we can help change that. 

What is low body confidence? When I was younger I felt like I needed to fit in, I believed there were criteria I needed to meet. If I didn’t fit into those criteria, there was risk of ridicule, or even being bullied. The peer pressure from friends, the ‘ideal’ girl that we thought boys liked – it made me want to be ‘perfect’.

According to the Girls’ Attitudes Survey, published by Girlguiding, 49% of girls aged 11-16 fear people will criticise their body if someone takes their picture. I know all too well how this feels and just what a detrimental and lasting impact it can have on the happiness and mental wellbeing of a young woman. If an individual has a negative perception of their body, perhaps they feel they’re not ‘pretty enough’ or don’t look the ‘right way,’ then hearing one negative comment can increase this x 100.

I can’t help but think that if I’d had a safe place and time in school, to discuss the core issues and importance of positive body confidence, I would not have let the pressure around me sink in. I would have been better prepared to deal with the situations I faced and to challenge them.

In the Girls’ Attitudes Survey  75% of girls aged 11 – 21 told us they believe  women are judged more on their appearance than on their ability and 47% aged 11–21 said the way they look holds them back. One look at the media and you see thousands of airbrushed photos, portraying this ‘perfect’ image of a woman where she fits a particular size and shape, where the person she is and the things she achieves are rarely mentioned. 

It is so easy to compare yourself to everything you see in magazines and on billboards. Recognising that your own body doesn’t look anything like that can make you feel inadequate and it becomes increasingly harder to ‘be yourself.’

As a Girlguiding advocate, I believe this needs changing and the time is now!

Girlguiding is campaigning for compulsory Personal, Social and Health Education and Sex and Relationships Education to include body confidence and healthy relationships. We want girls to be confident in their bodies, from their school years through to adulthood, and we believe education can play a major part in this. By teaching body confidence in schools, girls can learn how to increase their self-esteem and learn how to value themselves.

Girls and young women need to be reassured that there is no perfect image. Their size, shape or height does not define how far they can reach in life.

We need to teach girls that they are awesome whatever their shape and size.

In Girlguiding, through resources such as our Think Resilient and Free Being Me badges, we inspire girls to be confident within themselves. But we know much still needs to be done and we believe it can start in school.

You can help us achieve this by signing the petition here.

Adeola Gbakinro, 20, is a member of the Girlguiding Advocate panel. The Advocate panel is made up of 18 girls and young women aged 14-25 who speak out and call for change.

It’s time you started celebrating your period, guys. Sign up to bettybox RN and get all your tampons and pads, beauty products, sweet treats and loads more cool stuff delivered to your door, every single month. We know. It’s totally awesome. 

Image: Manjit Thapp

Fu Yuanhui became one of our Olympic sheroes last month when, after representing China in the Women’s Swimming 4 x 100m relay, she told an interviewer:

“I don’t think I performed very well today. I feel I let my teammates down.”

They came fourth. In the WORLD. She then explained:

“It’s because my period came yesterday, so I felt particularly tired – but this isn’t an excuse, I still didn’t swim well enough.”

Mike drop.

Fu’s candour was particularly brave, because while periods can still be a bit of taboo here in the UK, in China, they’re reeeally reeeally taboo. As in, prime-time commercials for sanitary products have been banned in China because they’re considered “vulgar” and “disgusting”.

The vast majority of women in China also still use pads, partly because of the persisting belief that women who use tampons are no longer virgins (we promise this isn’t true). Sex education in China is scarce and unregulated, which can lead to misunderstandings about the female reproductive system, a high rate of teen pregnancy and sexually transmitted infections, as well as many women avoiding tampons because they’re not sure how to insert them properly.

It’s estimated that tampons make up a minuscule 0.03% of the sanitary market, and while Chinese manufacturers produced 85 billion sanitary pads last year, not a single one of them made tampons.

Of course, pad popularity itself isn’t a bad thing; pads are comfy and easy to use and are excellent for mopping up your spilled Frappuccino – but they don’t work for every single situation. Such as, to pluck a random example out of the air, swimming.

Which we imagine would be kinda annoying if you’re an Olympic swimmer. Yeah.

Fu’s statement is so important in a worldwide context because it made people everywhere (yours truly included) pause and say: “oh yeahhhh, I never thought of athletes having periods!”

After all, we’re used to thinking of these people as super humans whose bodies can do things that ours couldn’t even begin to fathom – so it’s easy to assume the rules of nature that apply to us shouldn’t apply to them. But of course, as Fu reminded us, they do.

And just as significantly, a Chinese Olympian speaking openly about her period might finally spark a conversation within China about female reproduction, and trigger some really positive change for girls and women in the country.

All that, and an Olympic medal.

Fu, you’re our shero.

It’s time you started celebrating your period, guys. Sign up to bettybox RN and get all your tampons and pads, beauty products, sweet treats and loads more cool stuff delivered to your door, every single month. We know. It’s totally awesome. 

Image: Getty