Let’s Talk Consent.
Enthusiastic consent is the idea that anything less than an enthusiastic “yes” is a “no” and that asking consent in sexual situations is ongoing- not just a red or green light. At it’s core, enthusiastic consent is keeping communication between partners open during sex.
During sex, check in with your partner occasionally. Ask if they like what you’re doing. If you didn’t work it out beforehand, ask if it’s okay to start a new kind of stimulation. If they say no, then respect that no and stop if they want you to or don’t continue to do the thing they don’t like. Conversely, if you don’t enjoy the way a partner is touching you, voice it. Say something like “I like it when you do this” and demonstrate. If you’re really uncomfortable with something do not hesitate to ask for it to be stopped or to stop having sex altogether.
Practicing enthusiastic consent can start before sex too. You and your partner might talk about fantasies, what kind of stimulation you like, what positions, etc and also what you’re scared about, what you absolutely don’t want to do, or want to wait to do. If you want more impulsive, spur of the moment sex an actual conversation might not happen but it’s probably good to get the information out there in some way and it can be as sexy or as not sexy as you want it to be.
You’re probably thinking that this all doesn’t sound very sexy. However, when done correctly, asking consent isn’t a mood killer at all. Can you think of anything sexier than your partner moaning in your ear about all the ways they want to touch you? And, in the words of Jaclyn Friedman “It does not mean that you have to get a signed contract to touch my right breast. It does mean that you have to pay attention to whether or not I’m into it as you move your hand toward my right breast, and that if you can’t tell, you have to ask.”Enthusiastic consent isn’t trying to make everything into a contract. It simply is, like I said before, communication and that communication can be as sexy- or not- as you want it to be.
Communication during sex can be steamy dirty talk or, if you’re more reserved, shy,or uncomfortable with talking dirty, it can be simple and straight to the point. It can be fun to experiment with all the ways to incorporate consent and communication.
Beyond making sure everyone in comfortable, sharing with your partner what you like and what you want can help improve sex by making sure everyone has a nice time.
Practicing enthusiastic consent also contributes to breaking down rape culture.
This isn’t to say that people who don’t practice enthusiastic consent are committing sexual assault, however. It’s more that, if enthusiastic consent became the norm, it would remove the excuses that victim-blaming people use. Such as: “They never said no.” and the all important “But she was wearing X so she obviously wanted it!” trick.
We often see sex as someone taking something from someone else (taking virginity, the “base” system that implies one person wins, the other loses) but enthusiastic consent makes sure all parties are into it and thus turns it back into simple pleasure.
Enthusiasm, however, can be more than just loving the sex act you’re taking part in. You can be enthusiastic about bringing your partner pleasure or, in the case of sex workers, enthusiastic about the paycheck you’ll receive.
Say your partner really loves receiving oral. You, on the the other hand, aren’t the biggest fan of giving oral. You don’t hate it but you don’t love it but you want to please your partner. As long as no one in the situation is being forced or coerced to do something they don’t want to and communication is involved then it is enthusiastic consent.
This ended up being a little longer than I wanted it to be but, please, feel free to discuss and add and all that fun stuff.
Here is Feministing’s incredibly superior post on enthusiastic consent. Complete with comics!
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