Sexy Consent

Being both a feminist and a pervert (and an all-around intelligent sort of person), consent is something I think about.  I think about it more often than I consider buying new socks.  Plenty of other people have written primers on consent, so if you somehow stumbled over here looking for porn and have no idea what I’m even talking about please go ask Google.  Also, if you have no idea what I’m talking about please don’t even try to sleep with anyone until you’re done Googling.  This is some important shit right here.

The first explicit discussion of consent I heard of was Antioch College’s 1991 policy.  (I was young enough at the time not to have bought my first garter belt, but old enough to know where babies come from.)  Most of the discussion I remember had more to do with ridiculing the policy than it did with opening up the table to an honest examination of what worked, what didn’t, and why any such policy would be needed in the first place.  I think this is partly because Americans in general are still deeply uncomfortable discussing sex, and partly because our culture in general is still basically patriarchal and misogynist.  Both these factors make life less fun and less comfortable for men and women alike, yet they persist.

Most obvious in the backlash against the clearly listed items in Antioch’s policy was the idea that explicit consent was somehow silly and unnecessary.  Why would that be?  Is being sure of your partner’s happiness and comfort less exciting than the possibility that you’re doing something that will hurt them mentally or physically?  Do people really prefer an unwilling or unhappy partner to one that’s enthusiastic?  (Okay, I know some people do.  I’m talking about actual humans here, and I don’t consider rapists fully human.)

Obviously, I’m all for great sex, and consent is always part of it.  My personal approach to it may be slightly different from yours, or slightly different from what you’ve read.  I want to share some recent examples of what’s worked for me because I find that specific cases can give people ideas, start a discussion, or encourage others to look more closely at their own inner feelings on the subject.  What I really want is for everyone to know what works best for them, and to be aware of what their partners might be thinking or feeling.  If this helps at all, great!  If it doesn’t, great! That would mean you’ve already gotten to a point where you and whoever you’re sleeping with are totally clear on consent.

Consent is sexy to me because the best sex is a form of communication.  The eyes and body have a lot to do with this, but also I love talking as foreplay and during sex, which helps make it easy for a partner to know what is going on with me and what I want.  I have two recent examples of men using this propensity of mine that are very different from each other, but equally effective.

(The reason I have two neat and tidy examples all ready to discuss is because both evenings were part of the same big social event (a Con, for any Geeks out there).  My weekends usually aren’t quite so interesting.  The excellent contrast they offer is pure coincidence, so far as I know.)

My first example is a fairly standard (if I may call it that) approach to navigating an evening with a new person.  The man in question had been flirting with me throughout the day, and had dropped by my room to offer a brief massage to relax me before I went back out to walk in the fashion show that night.  I had been flirting right back at him, and after he rubbed my back I turned over on the bed and asked him to rub my thighs.  My already short skirt had ridden up, so after he’d massaged my thighs all the way to the top he nodded at the front of my thong, and asked if he could have “just a look” under it.    When I said Yes, he gently lifted up the fabric and had a close look at me, then let go so I could get up and finish getting ready to go back out.  I knew I’d be busy for at least a couple of hours, and tired afterwards, but I was all ready to meet up with this man again after that.  I enjoy showing off my body under the right conditions; a long, hungry gaze like his is just what a woman with exhibitionist tendencies needs.  Asking for just a look, and then leaving it at that worked perfectly to suggest that I could have more if I wanted, but only if I wanted it.  Less experienced men or those who don’t care at all about a woman’s pleasure will so often use these things as an excuse for bad behavior or leverage – they claim to be uncontrollably excited and demand or coerce their partners into the kind of sex that is ultimately just masturbation that uses the woman as an object, a tool.

Anyway, that night I was ready to have someone stay with me.  It was him, and he handled everything else just as respectfully.  Can I touch you here?  Like that?  Do you want me inside you? 

As I mentioned above, some people seem to find the idea of asking for each separate touch and act specifically and explicitly unsexy.  Every time I’m with someone who does ask, I’m turned on by it because I am much more comfortable knowing that I can say No at any time and have it be heard, and also because asking can sound so hot.  It adds another layer of anticipation, hearing what you can have if only you agree.  If I am ready to have someone inside of me, that extra minute of thinking it’s about to be mine will only make me hotter.

My second example throws everything I just said out the damn window, but it’s more personal.  The explicit asking is always a good idea, and I don’t think you can go wrong with it, but on rare occasions I run into someone I swear connects with me on a deep, chemical level.  On these occasions I feel and act differently.  Rare as they are, I found one the very next night!

Let’s call this guy Frank.  Let’s say I’d met him earlier, like when I was still married.  Let’s also say that when I met him earlier we’d spent some time talking and then he walked a drunken Me back to the hotel building I was staying in, where I wanted to drunkenly kiss him and possibly drunkenly ask him up to my room, but that no matter how drunk I may get at times I will never drunkenly violate a promise I’ve made to someone else.

So, the night before, there had been an impromptu room party somewhere in between the fashion show and the sexy sex.  Frank showed up for a bit, then when he told me he was leaving I attempted to drunkenly kiss him but shied away at the last second and ended up delivering a weak little off-target peck.  He didn’t make any move to reciprocate, so I started the next evening unsure of who I’d end up with.  I already had an invitation to continue the encounter from the night before, but was more interested in seeing if I had been pointing myself in entirely the wrong direction with Frank. There was a party in his room, so I had a good chance to find out.

As the party got more lively, it was easy enough for me to get closer to him  – I kept slipping out onto the balcony to smoke, and that small space was so crowded with other guests that if he happened to be behind me I really couldn’t help but press into him.  And it’s a balcony, right?  So of course there was all sorts of people-watching to be done, so of course I kept leaning forward to look over the railing, and when someone’s close to your own height and standing right behind you, it’s a good time to lean forward if you like them at all.  He would periodically grasp my hips or wrap an arm around my waist.  Just to be safe, right?  Someone who’s had a few drinks and is leaning over a balcony railing should be secured, or the night could end very badly for her.

Late in the evening, everyone else had left, including Frank’s roommate.  I had to run back to my own room to get a few things, and invited him back with me.  He walked with me, but then invited me back to his room, since he also needed a few things.  By the time we got back I couldn’t stand waiting any longer, and this time he seemed ready for more than a chaste peck and met my kiss with one just as hard and hungry.  I got out of my bodice and pressed against him and made it absolutely clear that I was staying and expected not to sleep much.

As we got on with the not sleeping much, I turned into more of a talker than I usually am.  I wasn’t feeling eloquent enough for complete sentences, but the touching and stroking led me to gasp with each breath, more, more, yes, harder, oh, yes . . . . And then when I did manage more than one word at a time asking him to do just what I wanted.

After that, details are really beside the point of this post, if I haven’t already veered away from the point too much.  BUT!  The reason I wanted to compare these two night in the first place is that the first is a classic example of gaining clear consent through asking.  It works, and is hot.  The second is an example of gaining clear consent by listening to what I’m asking for and delivering it.  It works, and is hot.  Going back to how this is instructional, basically it’s just that talking and listening are equally important.  In any given situation, I could find myself doing more talking, or not.  You might be solidly more of one, or more of the other, or it might depend on who you are with or any combination of other factors.  The only wrong way of doing it is not to have any idea if your partner is enjoying it or not.

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