Understanding Consent

Although it might seem like the porn you are watching is “just happening,” the actors onscreen have generally consented to what they are doing and have planned their moves out ahead of time. They are merely playing out a fantasy that sexy sex naturally occurs with every teacher/plumber/police officer, or that orgies break out at the drop of a hat. Be careful not to confuse the fantasy of pornographic sex with your own real life sexual encounters. Because having a fantasy, and acting on it are two very different things. While pornography can satisfy fantasies, or provide new ones, it’s important to remember that they are our own personal fantasies and not everyone is going to share them.

If we want to make our fantasies come true in our sexual lives, the only way to do so — legally — is to discuss them with our partner/partners and make sure everyone involved is aware and consenting. Sometimes our partners will be totally on board — and sometimes they won’t be. And that’s okay. Figuring out what you want and don’t want, what you will and won’t do is an important part of your sexual development and sharing these boundaries with your partner(s) and respecting each other ensures sexy good times for all.

Consent is important even online. Watching, distributing or making pornography that involves non-consent is against the law. This includes pornography featuring children or teens under the age of 18 and pornography featuring scenes of actual sexual assault or violence. Although it can sometimes be difficult to determine the age of participants in pornography or to tell if someone is legitimately consenting or not,  if you come across something that seems like it’s not right, or is obviously illegal (such as involving children), you can report it via Canada’s Cybertip organization.

And if you’ve seen something upsetting or disturbing in pornography and need to talk to someone about it, feel free to leave a message on our message board, or to contact a counselor at Kids Help Phone.

Just remember: be careful what you search for. ‘Cause as this guy in the skit below learned, there are some things you can’t unsee.

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