“Would you like to have sex with me?”
Okay, consent box checked, we’re good to go.
But what kind of sex is being consented to? Outercourse? Intercourse? Oral? Vaginal? Anal? Kinky? Non-kinky? What does each person want? Where? And for how long?
Consent is more than saying yes or no.
It’s an ongoing dialogue between participants. Which means we’re going to need to say the words: vagina, penis, butt, in, outside of, boobs, toy, vibrator, kiss, lick, suck, rub, touch, to the left. And boundaries. Perhaps the dirtiest word of all. “But talking about sex is awkward”. Listen, buddy. You know what’s more awkward than talking about a penis? Seeing one. Up close. Because it’s going into your mouth.
If we are going to do it, we need to be able to talk about it. To give genuine consent, each person needs to know what exactly they are agreeing to. And there is a continued responsibility. It’s not just enough to talk before a sex act, we are all additionally responsible for checking in during the act to make sure it’s still a good time for all involved. Consent is a whole body experience. It is not just a verbal “yes” or “no” – it involves paying attention to your partner as a person and checking in with physical and emotional cues as well.
Consent is each participant actively negotiating and agreeing to each sex act based on what is going to be mutually pleasurable to each party. This is done with each sexual encounter, and during. That’s right, we need to be open to talking about sex when we are having sex. For example, if I previously agreed to anal play and then decide during that it’s not a good time, we need to be able to talk about that.
“Hey, this isn’t really working for me”
“Okay. Let’s stop the butt stuff, is there something else you want to try?”
“Can we finish by mutual oral?”
All this does is ensure that we, as well as our partners, are enjoying the sexual action. I use the word “action” purposefully; a part of healthy sex is being active in it, rather than passive. And healthy sex is when we enjoy the mutual pleasure of our partners.
Something awesome happens when our partners feel their consent and boundaries are respected: they feel safe to try new things. Respectful sex encourages sexual exploration, more interesting sex.
Consent + Respect + Ongoing Communication = Good Sex
And who doesn’t want good sex?