Consent; if you’ve read even a single one of these blogs you’ll definitely have seen the term sprinkled throughout - probably in bold, maybe with a few explanation marks behind it!! I’ll be the first to admit that I’m always that I’m always going on about the subject, which I know may be annoying to some readers, but it seems remiss to me to write a sex blog and not underline how important consent it in an adult relationship. It’s the cornerstone of trust, experimentation and ultimately good riding, so it’s well overdue that I delve into the subject in some depth.
Consent is both a noun and a verb - and it basically means giving permission for something to happen. As in ‘I consent to be tied up and spanked’ or ‘he gave consent to be tied up and spanked’ (it’s pretty obvious where my mind is today…) but generally in real world situations it’s less…bland and monotone than it sounds in that example. Ideally consent really should be marked by continued, reciprocated enthusiastic responses to the question of sexual activity - whether verbal or non-verbal.
Growing up, many of us learned about consent under the ‘No Means No’ model (if we had a progressive enough sex education programme to teach us about consent at all but that’s a gripe for another blog). But these days, that doesn’t cut it any more - it’s all about ‘Yes Means Yes!’
Where the ‘No Means No’ model put the responsibility of stopping things in the hands of the partner who didn’t want to proceed with a sexual act, ‘Yes Means Yes’ or the Affirmation Consent Model removes the presumption that sex is on the table unless both partners actively and enthusiastically okay it. Put simply, you don’t have sex with someone unless they actually tell you that they want to. Seems kind of obvious right?
The problem is that it’s not obvious to everyone. The concept of ‘No Means No’ implies that sex is a one way street - you’re either up for it or you’re not - when in real life things can be much greyer.This issue comes into play a lot in the legal sphere when victims of sexual assaults try to report and are met with questions about why they were in a room alone with their assailant, or why they were wearing the clothes they were wearing at the time of their attack. Just because someone wears a short skirt and flirts with a guy alone in a room doesn’t mean they want his penis inside them, just FYI.
Under a ‘Yes Means Yes’ approach consent is: freely given, reversible, informed, enthusiastic and specific - or FRIES if you prefer to use food-based acronyms. You may already by familiar with the idea that consent can’t be given if someone is drunk or that someone being misinformed (or tricked into sex) is not cool. But it’s also important to highlight that consent should be reversible (i.e. a potential partner can change their mind at any time - even if you’re just about to put it in) and specific (i.e. just because a potential partner consents to one activity doesn’t mean they’ve said yes to all of them). Arguably the most important thing is that consent should be enthusiastic - I mean, why would you want to have sex with someone who doesn’t expressly want to have sex with you?
Okay, so I’ve word-vomited all that info on you, but why is consent important? Well, there a few reasons. First of all, if people have a better understanding of consent it protects us and our loved ones. Not all sexual assaults look like the creep that follows a girl down an alley, sometimes they’re a result of a misunderstanding of the boundaries, or what constitutes a yes. I promise you, every woman you know has been in a situation with someone who pushed boundaries, or took silence for a yes. A wider understanding that only yes means yes, protects all of us as sexual partners - be it from overstepping a line we didn’t mean to, or from having one of ours overstepped.
On a one to one level, adhering by the guidelines of the Affirmation Consent Model is really just the basic courtesy we should offer to those we want to be intimate with. If you’re into someone enough to want to do things to their body, than you really should be willing to respect their wishes - and (this can’t be stated enough) have them respect yours.
Finally, knowing that you have the express consent of your partner is one of the sexiest things ever, don’t @ me. The fact that someone wants you to have sex with them, when they could have said no at any point is pretty damn great. Don’t believe me? Try it and see.