srv: consent

One of the most important topics when it comes to sex and relationship violence is CONSENT.

Consent is an explicitly communicated, reversible, mutual agreement made when all parties are capable of making that decision.

The “YES!” may or may not be verbal, but it has to be unambiguous and voluntary.

When thinking about consent, there’s two questions you should ask:

  • Does the person want to give consent?  
  • Is the person capable of giving consent?

If the answer to either of those question is anything but a resounding yes, you do not have consent. If you’re not sure if you have consent: ask!

 Sex without consent is sexual assault, no matter what preexisting relationship you have with someone.

Sex with consent is the low bar, the minimum standard.

Sex with enthusiastic consent is the gold standard! Enthusiastic consent isn’t just a “Yes,” it’s a “Yes, please, now, yes!”

It’s not just willingness to have sex but wanting to have sex.

Almost no one is interested in having sex with someone who doesn’t  want to have sex with them; most of us want our partner to be more than just “willing” to have sex with us, we want them to want to have sex with us!

For some people, that wanting begins long before any sexual contact happens, and they want all different kinds of sexual contact.

For other people, the wanting comes along more gradually. They may be enthusiastic to hold hands or make out or cuddle, but not to do anything else. Their enthusiasm for other kinds of sexual contact may emerge gradually as they become more aroused… or it might not.

If you only engage in behaviors that both people are enthusiastic about, you can’t go wrong.

One more thing about consent:

Sex and love can both be fun, beautiful experiences. They can also be risky, unwelcome, and confusing. They can even be all of those things at the same time. That’s why ambivalence is normal.

But ambivalence—both yes and no—is not consent. “Maybe” means “no.” “Maybe” means wait, and stick with the things you’re both unambivalently enthusiastic about.

consent IS… consent IS NOT…
An active, ongoing “yes!” between people who want to engage in sexual activity The absence of a “no”. Just because someone does not say “no” does not mean they are saying “yes!”
Communicating every step of the way, every time Implied or assumed, even in a relationship. Saying “yes!” in the past does not mean “yes!” in the future
100% voluntary When someone is coerced, pressured, forced, or threatened
Sober, between adults Given by someone who doesn’t have the mental or physical capacity to give it (e.g., under the influence of alcohol
Everyone involved has willingly agreed on what to do Silence, passivity, or lack of active response
When everyone involved can freely express their needs and wants without being scared of their partners’ reaction Definitive. Just because someone has said “yes” does not they can’t also say “no” at any given time



srv: introduction

In this series of posts, we’ll be talking about sex and relationship violence and the campus resources that exist for preventing and responding to it on campus.

There’s a little bit of legal jargon – sorry, it’s unavoidable in some places – but we’ve tried to make the info as straightforward as possible.

Okay here we go, let’s start with definitions:

Domestic violence, dating violence, sexual assault, and stalking—what we collectively call “sexual and relationship violence” or “SRV” – are all prohibited at Smith College under the Student Code of Conduct, of course. You can find definitions of the different kinds of SRV at the Smith College Student Affairs Office website. In general, though, SRV involves:

  • sexual activity that is forced, coerced or otherwise without consent;
  • attempting to cause another person harm or placing another in fear of imminent serious physical harm; or
  • a pattern of behavior that seriously alarms or annoys another person.

Smith students are about as likely as other college women to experience SRV during their time in college, and Smith provides many resources for both preventing and responding to SRV.

This series of posts is intended to address some  fundamental issues related to SRV, including

content warning

This series of posts explicitly discusses several forms of interpersonal violence, including sexual assault, stalking, and dating violence. These are sometimes difficult topics to consider, particularly if you are a survivor of violence, or a cosurvivor. (A cosurvivor is someone who supports another person through the recovery process.)

We encourage you to read it if you’re in a good place to learn about how the Smith community prevents and responds to these forms of violence. And if you find yourself struggling with these issues or any other kind of emotional difficulties, we encourage you to contact Counseling Services. Call x2840 or visit their website.


Radiolab, in its wisdom, has given us this hour-long episode titled “Stress.”

Seriously, if you’re interested in understanding what stress is, how it affects your body, and what you can do about it, please listen! You can do other things while you listen – exercise, clean, eat, whatever – but just listen.

Keep your snot to yourself, please.

Look, there’s just no way around it: it’s a bad flu year. And flu sucks, right? But it’s preventable!

Do YOU know the single most effective way to avoid getting the flu?

That’s right. Wash your hands.

Okay, the CDC maybe hasn’t mastered the art of the entertaining public health message. But the Maine Medical Association has:

Hey, while we’re talking about it, get the vaccine too – it helps prevent flu, but mostly it helps protect your community.

Other effective prevention strategies include getting enough sleep (7-9 hours per night – and if you think you can’t afford to spend that much time sleeping, just think how much time you’d waste having the flu!), eating lots of dark green leafy vegetables, and getting some exercise.

Also, avoid licking people who have the flu. I know it’s not always possible, but… try.

that’s not delicious

So there’s a Smithie who draws/writes a webcomic called That’s Not Delicious, which deals with “feelings and stuff.” She’s writing a story about a kind of mean girl/bullying dynamic that just is AMAZING. Part 1 is here and Part 3 is here, but can I show you Part 2? It KILLS ME.


Also highly recommend you check out the Power of the Dracula Sneeze now that finals and flu season are upon us!