Join the #LoveConsent Revolution!
One of the main reasons that sex remains taboo in our culture is that we are not supposed to talk about it. Although sex is EVERYWHERE, discussing sex openly and honestly is still rare. In some situations, that makes sense. For example, sex is usually an inappropriate topic for the family Thanksgiving dinner table. However, the taboo against talking about sex sticks in situations where open conversations are not only appropriate, but also necessary. People who are having sex with each other need to be able to talk about it!
But somehow, many of us are more comfortable sleeping with someone than talking to the person that we are sleeping with about sex. This is nobody's fault—it is ingrained in our sex obsessed/ sex-negative culture, leaving many people horny and confused. To move ourselves towards more healthy and self-actualized sex we need to practice communication and CONSENT.
Good sex is about good communication.Communicating our boundaries, needs, and desires is hot! We need a sexual revolution that makes practicing communication as ubiquitous as using a condom. Condom use was promoted for sexually active people in response to the AIDS epidemic in the 90s in order to prevent the transmission of HIV. Today, communication needs to be promoted among sexually active people in response to the epidemic of rape, assault and sexual violence in order to prevent unwanted sexual experiences. Just like pausing to put on a condom prevents STDs, pausing to check in with your partner prevents unwanted sexual experiences.
The sexy benefits of good communication!
When you're having sex with people you can spend a lot of time wondering about what they're thinking. How do you know if they want to kiss you? How can you tell if they like what you're doing? Are they thinking what you're thinking? Do they want more? How do you know what they want?
YOU ASK THEM!!!
It is a complete and absurd myth that good sex happens without talking—that through intuition and magic and maybe telepathy you will know the ins and outs of everyone with whom you date, kiss, have sex, etc. That's silly. Every person that you encounter in and out of the sack will be radically different, and you have no way of knowing what turns them on and what turns them off. When it comes to sex, we are not robots. There is not a universal "on" switch. Each one of us has a different body with its own unique landscape of desires and responses. And what feels good to one body might not feel good to another. That's what makes sex so fun and exciting! If sex was the exact same thing every time we did it, it would get boring fast.
So skip the wondering and march straight into good sex by saying all those things that have been anxiously going over in your head OUT LOUD!
What is CONSENT, anyways?
CONSENT is a verbal agreementright (say it out loud—no "body language") about how and when people are comfortable engaging in a sexual act with their partner(s). This agreement can be made through a quick check-in, or a longer conversation—and a "sexual act" can mean anything from kissing to going all the way.
Say it OUT LOUD!
Why does CONSENT need to be spoken out loud? Can't you just know what someone wants by the way they look at you, dance with you or kiss you? Doesn't talking about sex take away the fun? The mystery?
Talking about sex doesn't take out the fun, but it does take out the mystery. Often the unspoken mystery of what's happening in your partner's head (or what's happening in your own head) leads to unwanted sexual experiences. You can think you know what they want by that look in their eyes, and be dead wrong. And the same can happen to you—your partner might misread the looks you send their way. If you feel too awkward to ask your partner about their boundaries, chances are they feel too awkward to bring it up on their own. In which case, it's likely that their boundaries will be crossed.
Every one and any one engaging in sexy business can bring up CONSENT. Whether you are initiating or receiving, you have the power to make the CONSENT check-in happen! However, some people are more responsible than others. Before you do something to someone else's body (touch their junk, grind on them, take off their clothes, etc.) it is your responsibility to make sure that is OK with them. If you don't ask and just assume that the look in their eyes means that they want what you're giving, you could very well be perpetrating an unwanted sexual act and harming your partner.
How I heart CONSENT
Your comfort level with each and every sexual exchange is going to be different, so talk about boundaries early and often to make sure you and your partner are on the same page.Conversations
If it's the first time you're hooking up with someone, it's good to have a longer conversation. You'll want to know what their boundaries are, what safer sex looks like to them and what their preferences are. Generally a good time to have the conversation is when it's clear that something romantic and sexy is about to happen, but before you get down to business. Here are the things to cover:
Never make assumptions. Your partner might be comfortable having oral sex, but not comfortable having vaginal sex. You might be comfortable having sex on Tuesday, but won't feel like it on Wednesday. And what about anal?
Protection and STDs:
Talk to your partner about standards for using protection and then follow those standards. You might be accustomed to using condoms for vaginal or anal sex, without realizing that some people also use protection for oral sex. You might want your partner to get tested regularly. Your partner might be comfortable not using condoms with you, but might expect you to use condoms when you have sex with other people. Decide what everyone is comfortable with and set clear guidelines. After you have had a conversation about safe sex, it is easier to follow your safe sex practices, to pull out that dental dam, when you're all hot and bothered.
Many of us have had the experience where the sex that we're having is almost the sex that we really want, but not quite. And instead of asking for what we want out loud, we silently hope for it. We hope that she will take off our pants or that he will keep kissing down our neck and down our stomach and down our... well, you get the point. And we are too shy to just say, "Is it OK if I sit on your face?" Chances are you don't know everything that your partner wants and they don't know everything that you want.
You can minimize the gap between what you are wanting and what you getting by asking for it! It's like any other situation in life; ask and ye shall receive. But because sex is so intimidating, we lose our voice. Practicing communication makes it easier.Ask your partners what their preferences are! What types of sex do they like? Do they like penetration, oral sex, dildo sex, anal sex, hand jobs? What feels good? The exciting thing about this conversation is that it's ongoing. Our sexual interests change and peak as we grow and develop. Your partner might get exciting ideas that will spice up your sex life. And if you have good communication, then you two (or you three or you four) can explore each other's bodies in infinitely expanding, hot, great, consensual ways.
All about check-ins. Or all about can I take off your pants?
Once you've had the basic CONSENT conversation with someone you can use check-ins. Check-ins are important because one moment of consent is only good for that moment. Just because someone has had sex with you once does not mean that they'll want to have sex with you whenever, wherever for the rest of their lives. Duh, right? But somehow that insane assumption gets made all the time. Don't do it! Keep asking your partner what they want. And keep telling your partners what you want. You and your partner(s) have already established good communication. Now you two just need to keep it up! What does that look like? Before you do something to your partner's body, ask them if they're OK with it. Like, Can I take off your pants? Do you want me to sit on your face? Can I lick your... you get the idea. Check-ins can be simple, fun and sexy questions that lead to more consensual and more exciting sexual rendezvous!