I ask, I listen, I respect

| October 15, 2021
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The “I Ask, I Listen, I Respect” JHU consent campaign was designed to resonate with community members, with an emphasis on consent throughout sexual and intimate activity. The goal is to better socialize and teach the following behaviors:

  • open communication during sexual and intimate activities;
  • recognition of verbal and non-verbal consent and non-consent cues; and
  • maintaining consent throughout a sexual experience.

We hope all members of the JHU community will participate in the campaign by sharing materials and requesting or hosting events. Visit the campaign webpage to see how you can become involved.

Simply put, consent is uncoerced permission to interact with the body or the life of another person.

It is up to all of us to ASK our partners about what they like and their boundaries; to LISTEN to what our partners share about what they are comfortable with and how they would like to experience pleasure and joy; and to RESPECT the boundaries our partners share around their bodies and lives, and their expectations around pleasure and joy.

I Ask

It is up to all of us to ASK our partners what they like, what they are comfortable with, what would make experiences pleasurable and joyful, and what their boundaries are. Check in and ask partners how they are feeling before and during sex and intimacy. This can sound like:

  • How does that feel?
  • Where do you want to be touched?
  • Do you want to change positions?
  • Do you like this?
  • What if we tried this instead?
  • Do you want to keep going?
  • Should I do this harder?
  • Should I do this softer?
  • Does this feel good to you?
  • What do you want me to do?
  • How far do you want to go?
  • Are you enjoying this?

I listen

It is up to all of us to LISTEN to our partners to make sure we understand what they like, what they are comfortable with, what their boundaries are, and what they have given permissions for. Listen to partners to make sure they are comfortable and enjoying our sex and intimacy. If they are expressing uncertainty or discomfort, it’s time to stop and check in. Here are some things we can be listening for:

  • Yeah I like that.
  • Harder.
  • Keep going.
  • Please don’t stop.
  • Yeah touch me there.
  • I love that.
  • That feels so good.
  • I’m ok with touching here, but that is all I want to do.
  • Only if we can use a condom.
  • I don’t feel like it tonight.
  • Ouch.
  • I’m not sure.
  • I don’t like that.
  • I want to do oral, but nothing else.

I Respect

It is up to all of us to RESPECT our partner’s boundaries, to make space for them to comfortably tell us “no” and to change their minds, and to equally prioritize their pleasure and joy with our own. Respect partners pleasure and their boundaries during sex and intimacy. If at any time they seem uncomfortable or no longer excited about what is going on, stop and check in with them. This can look like:

  • Tell me if you get uncomfortable at any time and we’ll stop.
  • Let me know if you want to change positions.
  • Let me know if you want to stop.
  • What are you comfortable with doing?
  • Can we set up a safe word?
  • Let’s pause and talk about what we both want to do.
  • Can we try something else? If you don’t want to, that is fine.
  • I’ll get a condom.
  • I want to make sure you are feeling good about this.
  • Are you ok?
  • Ok, we’ll only do what you are comfortable with.

More on Consent

Consent is:

  • informed, meaning all people involved in the sexual or intimate act know what is going on. For example, conversations around STI health have been had and expectations for the act have been made clear and discussed.
  • active, meaning consents exists for all changes or progressions in the event or act. For example, consent is present for oral sex, and is given again should oral sex move to penetrative sex.
  • something that can be revoked at any time, meaning before or during an intimate event or act. For example, if someone changes their mind in the middle of sex and wants to stop, consent has been taken away.
  • Is agreed upon AND wanted, meaning partners have given uncoerced permission for the event or act.
  • Is ethical, meaning partners have made sure everyone is comfortable with the intimate event or act. For example, space is made for partners to change their minds and to have conversations about concerns and vulnerabilities.
  • focused on mutual pleasure and joy, meaning equal focus is placed on all partners‘ physical and emotional enjoyment and happiness. For example, taking time to find out how our partners like to be touched, taking time to find out if our partners would like any sort of care after intimacy.
  • something that cannot exist where there is no permission or if the permission is coerced.

Coercion can look like

  • Force.
  • The threat of force.
  • Leveraging power or positions of power.
  • Targeting a person who is incapacitated by drugs or alcohol.
  • Pushing a person to become incapacitated by drugs or alcohol.
  • Blackmail.
  • Pushing someone over and over until they give in.

The University’s definition of consent can be found in the Sexual Misconduct Policy and Procedures.


There are a variety of ways folks can have romantic, sexual, or other intimate relationships. Intimate relationships are relationships where the folks involved are somehow vulnerable with one another. Folks can be vulnerable in many ways including physically, emotionally, and mentally. In healthy relationships, all partners take time to make sure each other is emotionally and physically safe, their boundaries are respected, and consent is prioritized.

Campaign Materials

You are welcome to use and share the following materials. If you use them on social media, please add the hashtag #ConsentAtJHU.

For more information, to request materials, and to request programming around consent, please follow this link or email Alyse Campbell at [email protected].