Consent is a complex topic. In theory, it’s easy: No means No and Yes means Yes. In reality, things can be murkier. Minds can change; someone can think a partner’s mind has changed when it hasn’t; there may be mixed signals.
One way signals can be mixed is when a person’s body is aroused but their words and/or their clear body language says No. What then? The partner may notice wetness or hardness and assume it’s a Yes. Or a person may wonder (at the time or later) whether their physical arousal means they consented to sex even if their mind and their words didn’t.
This one is actually quite clear: You can be aroused—even very aroused, even extremely aroused—and not consent to sex.
Arousal is only about the body. People can experience physical signs of arousal like erections and vaginal lubrication even when they’re not interested in sex, not emotionally ready, or just not willing.
Consent, on the other hand, is about all of you: body, mind, heart, and spirit. You could be aroused for hours, months, or years and still not feel ready to have sex, and that would be a perfectly legitimate choice. Part of you could really, really want to have sex on a given night and you might still decide the timing, partner, or situation isn’t right. Your body is only one part of the equation. Your brain is in charge.
So if a partner pressures you to do something you don’t want to simply because you’re aroused, don’t fall for it. Or if they say you didn’t really mean your No because you were turned on, don’t doubt yourself. Those are manipulative, self-serving moves. It’s up to you, not someone else, to choose what you do and don’t want to do. If you decide it’s No, it’s No, regardless of how excited your body may be.
Arousal does not equal consent. Don’t let anyone tell you otherwise.