Enthusiastic Consent

(Please do not read this post if you are a person who doesn’t want to know that I’ve ever thought about or had sex. Please especially don’t read this post if you are a person who doesn’t want to know that I’ve ever thought about or had sex AND THEN yell at me for having written this post, considering that you don’t want to know that I’ve ever thought about or had sex.)

sexy making out.gif

So here is my question. How is it that getting enthusiastic consent is not sexy? How is it even remotely possible to think to oneself, “Asking a person I want to have sex with if they want to have sex with me and them saying, ‘Hell, yeah, baby, give it to me!’ is super duper unsexy and will kill the mood.”

I mean – will it kill the mood more than randomly sticking your fingers in a woman’s mouth? Or pointing to your dick as an indication that you’d like a blow job? Is that creating an extraordinarily sensual and seductive mood that will be killed if you say, “You know, if you want to?”?

I don’t mean this to be about Aziz Ansari and Grace. I think he’s a normal guy who did a normal guy thing, which, given the culture we live in, is also an atrocious and violating thing, but he’s about my age and I grew up with the same TV and movies he did so I know that the culture he was raised in generally considers that to be sort of okay. I mean, not totally. There have been voices pointing out that it’s not okay. See Lindy West’s column in the Times to see what I’m talking about. But the louder voices have been, “Men, getting sex by any means necessary is totes cool.”

But there’s also a fairly clear model for what enthusiastic consent can look like in a sexy way. It goes like this. You’re together. You’re in close quarters. Maybe you’ve even started making out. You say, “What do you want?” or “You like that?” or “Tell me what will make you moan.” You can throw in a “baby” or some other endearment if you like.

Maybe your partner is shy. Maybe your partner doesn’t know how to say what s/he wants. So you pull back a little. Just a little. You’re still there. And you say, “I’m not going to touch you until you tell me you want it.”

And then don’t. If your partner wants you to touch them, they will say so. Or they’ll move your hand. Or they’ll resume kissing you. Or maybe they’ll be too shy and they’ll turn away. Wait, is that shy, or is that, seriously, I don’t want to? Try maybe holding their hand or stroking their leg. Do they lean into it? Do they stroke back? Or do they sort of stiffen and go still? Or even pull away a little bit? See, if they lean into it, they want more. And if you’re not sure, was that a lean in or just a shift, you say something like, “You like that?” If there’s an immediate affirmative response – an actual “Yes, I do,” a soft moan, a more assertive leaning in, a return touch, then probably they like that. If there’s hesitation or further pulling away, or, you know, “No, not really,” then the answer is no.

But shouldn’t a woman – or a man – just say “no” if they don’t want something? Shouldn’t they make it obvious by screaming in your face or kicking you in the balls or running screaming away from you?

Dude, come on. Come on. Maybe they like you but they’re just not sure they want to do THAT. Maybe they deliberately wore granny panties or have some sort of monster zit on their inner thigh. Maybe they thought this was going to be a one-night thing but now they kind of really like you but if you Do It, then maybe you’ll think they’re a slut, but if you say no then they’ll think you’re not Chill. Maybe they like you but the tacos you ate are not sitting nicely in their tummy and they want to go home so they can shit in private but they don’t want to tell you that a poop tsunami is about to come out of the butt you’re aggressively grabbing. Maybe you’ve been so rape-culture-y that they don’t know if saying “no” is going to trigger you to violence so they’re trying to be polite. Maybe notice.

And honestly, if nuances like “leans in to this kind of touch, kind of freezes when I do that” are too subtle for you to pick up on, you’re probably a lousy lay. Like, even if your partner is really into you and really wants to fuck like bunnies and is hoping it’s all going to go well, s/he can’t be giving explicit instructions the whole time. I mean, some people are into that sort of thing and it can probably be fun sometimes but sometimes you just have to catch on to the idea that if s/he’s pushing your hand from one location to another, then wherever your hand was, it wasn’t pleasing. AND THE FACT THAT YOU REFUSE TO PICK UP ON THAT IS WHAT’S RUINING THE GODDAMN MOOD, YOU FUCKSTICK.

And not for nothing, but do you want the highest standard you’re achieving to be “What I did does not meet the legal definition of rape.”? Or do you want it to be “I am an actual Sex God who makes all of my partners see the stars in the heavens in all their glory.”? Or at least, “My sex partners and I enjoy ourselves together.” Like, shoot for at least that. Please.

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3 thoughts on “Enthusiastic Consent

  1. Helen says:

    This is a great article! It’s such an annoying issue. I’ve always felt like social taboos and conventions are kinda geared towards benefiting the male sex drive. If you complain about some trivial things as a woman, it feels like you’re being unnecessarily difficult. So you get a lot of men who are great at permanently existing in that gray area.
    I’m not sure quite what can be done about it though, outside of some really unromantic solutions. Like handing every man a specific list of actions for which he risks getting his nuts kicked into his throat, and getting him to sign it 🙂 Lol, I’m sure that’d go down well.

    • perica1981 says:

      I guess my point, is, there ARE models for what is both sexy as hell AND ensures that all participants are happy to be there. Maybe the solution is, men should read romance novels. (Ones written after, say, the year 2000, though.)

      • Helen says:

        Lol I tend to read the more fantasy/paranormal types of romance novels so that’s probably not a good guide unless you want to include a sword fight.
        I don’t know if you could make rules that fit for everyone though. There are so many different preferences. Hell, I’ll even change what I think is OK based on the vibe I get from the guy.

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