17 Feb, 18
Sex Tips & Tricks
Can I interest you in some sex?
It is really not that hard asking for consent when you want sex.
By Emmeline Peaches
Would you like a cup of tea right now?Imagine we just offered you one. You might be thirsty and fancy a cup, so you say ‘yes’.You might not and politely decline.
Then again, you might fancy tea but would rather do it yourself or have your tea made by someone you know better – someone who is more familiar with how you like it. Alternatively, you might fancy coffee or a hot chocolate instead or get the tea and then realize you’d rather not drink it or decide to stop halfway through. No big deal, right? After all, it’s just tea.
But what if it wasn’t tea we were offering? What if it was a sex act? How does one manage communication in a situation like that? The short answer (as you’ve probably guessed) is just like a cup of tea. The long answer is the topic of our article today.
What Is Consent?
Consent is when broken down to its most basic definition ‘permission for something to happen or agreement to do something’. This is the definition that you’ll get when doing a Google search and it is something that we all encounter daily in multiple ways.
When you buy your morning drink at the local barista you are consenting to purchase that item. When you turn up at work you’re consenting to meet your job description for the hours agreed upon with your employer. And when you walk through your door and open your arms wide to your children, pets, or significant other, you’re consenting to physical contact.
We’re all, fundamentally, consent masters.
We also all understand that consent isn’t the same in every situation and can be subject to complex changes. If you find yourself ill mid-work then you might have to tell your boss that you’ll be leaving early that day. If you’re feeling down, stressed, or are on the phone, you may not want a hug when you get it, and so on and so forth.
In such situations we recognise that consent in malleable and don’t think much about changing it where need be. After all, no one should have to do something they don’t feel comfortable with…right?
Consent and Sex
Sadly, it seems that many people blur the lines and understanding of sex when it comes to one of the most important and intimate elements of life – sexual activity.
The recent Harvey Weinstein scandal and the subsequent #MeToo movement is testament to this when it comes to people in positions of power and, on a larger scale, the UN estimates that 35% of women worldwide have experienced physical or sexual violence. Take that to individual nations and the statistics can rise to up to 70%, and that is not including men, transgender, or otherwise gender fluid/queer individuals.
Consent as it relates to sex is the agreement between participants to engage in sexual activity. Depending on where you are in the world (or even state-to-state in the US) the minutiae of consent might vary but here are some things that should always remain the same:
Consent should be freely given: That means that is shouldn’t come as the result of emotional manipulation, peer pressure, or while under the influence of any substances that impede a person’s judgement or inhibitions.
Consent should be enthusiastic: Participants should want to engage in the sexual activity and should be showing clear signs that this is the case (such as excitement, smiling, an eagerness to get ready for the activity, etc.)
Consent should be taken as situation-specific: If a person agrees to oral sex they are not agreeing to penetration. If a person is enthusiastic about doggy style, that doesn’t mean they are equally on board with a threesome etc. Consent always applies to the situation at hand. After all, if you agree to tea you’re not saying that you’re also fine with baking a cake to go alongside it.
Consent should be informed: Consenting to an act is only possible if you know what that act is, and everyone involved should be fully informed about what is expected/desired from the situation. Again, if you asked for tea and were suddenly be handed an apron because you agreed by proxy to make a cake without any mention of such an activity you’d be perturbed.
Consent can be revoked: Consenting to an act doesn’t mean that you must follow through with it in all instances and a person shouldn’t be made to feel like they must engage in the agreed upon action/s no matter what. This ties back in to consent needing to be enthusiastic and freely given or, to apply it to something else, coming in to work and then realizing you’re sick as a dog.
In all cases each person is the master of their body, should be able to say what does and doesn’t feel good, and act accordingly to protect their own physical and emotional wellbeing.
But What About…?
Ssssh, no. It’s as simple as the above. And, if you’re in doubt about a participant’s enthusiasm, informed position, or anything else then it’s important to practice communication (verbal and non-verbal) to address the situation and either establish a firm sense of consent or respectfully move away from the desired sexual activity.
Verbal communication is the easiest way to get a better grasp of a person’s eagerness for sexual activity and should be something that you’ve established firmly before said activity is even on the table. If anything feels rushed or frantic then it’s important to be accountable and establish consent in a more tangible manner. Given time to think it might be that you recognise that sex isn’t right for the situation. This is especially important when alcohol, drugs, or an imbalance of power are present.
Back to Tea
But, hey, if you’re ever so confused that you just have no idea if you’ve got consent or not then, firstly, you probably haven’t (as enthusiastic consent is clear and concise) but, secondly, if in doubt just substitute ‘sexual activity’ for tea.
This was done by the #consentiseverything campaign, where tea was used as a short and sweet analogy for consent and was explored further in a YouTube video. We encourage readers of this article to give this video a watch, as it breaks consent beautifully down to its core components.
And, if you find yourself wanting a sexual act but your intended participant/s just aren’t in to it, or stop mid-way through, then it’s important not to take it as a personal slight, or a reflection of your own character or performance. Some people, after all, just aren’t a big fan of tea, and that’s perfectly fine.
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