We’ve talked about consent on this blog before; what it is, what it’s not, how to get, and why it is important; our organization is based on the issue of consent actually. We have all heard that ‘No means no,’ but many individuals and organizations are beginning to look at consent as ‘yes means yes.’ This change comes as a result of women rethinking and reevaluating sexuality and female empowerment. By focusing a sexuality in a positive light, ‘yes’ is more positive than ‘no,’ it exercises women’s agency to enjoy and explore their sexuality. It also makes consent clear and unambiguous and undeniable.
For the record…“Consent” is a voluntary, ongoing, sober, enthusiastic, wanted, informed, mutual, honest, well-communicated agreement between all parties involved about acts and levels of intimacy.
Whenever anyone asks about consent, the most common response is that it would kill the mood, that it is awkward. Really? We are willing to get completely naked, the most vulnerable state that we can possibly be, but we’re afraid to ask if we can do _________ with them?
What could be more erotic then knowing your partner(s) want to be with you? If someone we like and want to be with says, “I want to do _______ with/to you.” You’re telling me that you are going to say no, “why did you ask?” Being asked is a sign of respect and desire.
What are we afraid they’ll say no? So? Do we seriously want to be with someone who doesn’t want to be with us? The consequences of not obtaining consent are severe. It’s called sexual assault/rape. We need to remember that consent is a legal term after-all.
We need to also remember that consent is not just a legal term. Sex is great. Sex should be fun and enjoyable for all parties. Consent isn’t a panacea to great sex. Practice is what creates that. But knowing what your partner wants, and how to get them off, and what you like and what gets you off, makes sex better. Makes you better at it. Consent may surprise you and teach you some things about your own body you never knew. We all like different things, and so what worked with one partner may not work with the next. That’s why it is important to ask (and tell). In consent, we may find the hottest greatest most satisfying sex when could never even imagine in our wildest dreams. It’s certainly worth a shot.
Rachel Kramer Bussel in the article “Beyond Yes or No” states that “The fact is, we’re never going to see anyone sane arguing outright that they’re against consent. To truly reinforce the message that consent is sexy, we need to show our partners why, and how that is” pg48. Busel’s article can be found in ‘Yes Means Yes,’ an anthology of feminist writings related to consent and women’s sexuality and aimed at empowering women (and everyone else too!) to enjoy sex and sexuality.
It is a myth that men are always ready to drop everything if sex is offered. That consent is a basic given when it comes to men’s sexuality is harmful. This lie causes men to feel like they must consent, or face the stigma of being labeled ‘gay’ or ‘less than a real man.’ What this means is that sometimes consent with men isn’t truly present. And that is what folks?
So it is in men’s best interest (aside from the fact that an assault is a possibility) to explicitly give or not give consent, and to their partners to ask. Men are raped too, remember?
April is Sexual Assault Awareness Month. Let’s take the time to ask and listen. The consequences are too serious, and the benefits are astounding and amazing and astonishing and mind-blowing and flabbergasting (…ok so you may not ever actually use that word, but I just wanted to use that word in a blog for once). Consent should be an ecstatic-screaming-wake-up-the-neighbors-down-the-street “YES!!!” This is not only about preventing sexual violence, it’s about communication about intimacy, something we can all use….and of course it’s about pleasure too!