People I will never have sex with ever: those who don’t “get” enthusiastic consent

There’s a bit of a backlash going on against enthusiastic consent. I noted it a while back, and it’s become more and more abundantly clear as the rape apologists crawl out of their lairs to rally around Julian Assange.

Enthusiastic consent is vitally important for two reasons. The major one, obviously, is that it’s a far better way of establishing sexual consent and therefore not raping anyone. The other, though, is that sex with people who don’t do enthusiastic consent is just rubbish. Even when it’s not rape, it’s shit sex. 

The thing with enthusiastic consent is that it’s not difficult. There is absolutely nothing hard about asking “Wanna fuck?” or “What do you want?” or “Would it be hot if we did this?” During good sex, it’s generally pretty easy to ask “Oh god, come on my tits,” or “Would you like it if I bit you?” or “Hey, why don’t you two fuck while I watch?” This level of good communication between everyone involved in a fuck is a prerequisite for good sex, and it’s basically all there is to enthusiastic consent. Of course, not everybody’s going to be up for everything suggested, but if you’re not a dickhead, you’ll be cool with that, and with good communication, you can often devise a different fun activity together.

You can plot and plan things to try in future: sharing fantasies can often turn into making realities. With this model, you can then work out how to safely play, negotiating boundaries for temporarily suspending consent: consciously choosing that in *this* particular scenario “no” wouldn’t mean “no” (and the safe-word is “Thatcher”). And then talk about how it went afterwards, because talking is good and hot and makes your sex life so much better. And yes, enthusiastic consent can even apply to the sleeping scenario. “Hey, darling, would it be hot if you woke up and I was fucking you?” “Fuck yeah.” *next morning* “Hey sleepyhead, how’s this feeling?” “Very nice thank you.” See? It’s that simplebut the importance of that first conversation is often neglected.

There seem to be so many people who think this essential level of communication to make a fuck truly mindblowing will somehow ruin sex. They think it’s a chore, that it’ll ruin the flow of sex to check with a partner that everyone is on the same page. They think they can magically read a situation.

They’re wrong. At worst, they might be rapists–the “Reddit rape thread” is riddled with stories in the vein of “I saw her face and realised she was crying so I stopped”: all of these could have been averted by a bit of simple communication beforehand, a “hell yes, let’s fuck” from everyone. At best, though, those who can’t be bothered to communicate are crap in bed.

They’ll try one-size-fits-all sex moves, which really don’t work for everyone, due to each person being unique in their set of turn-ons and turn-offs and quirky little sweet spots. They’ll gruntingly hump away until they think they’re done, without ever bothering to check if you’ve had fun. Some of them even freak out over a little “dirty talk”, my frantic attempt to turn a dreary shag into something more fun.

They might think they’re the best fuck in the world, but if they don’t get how to do enthusiastic consent I can guarantee that they are not.

 

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26 responses to “People I will never have sex with ever: those who don’t “get” enthusiastic consent

  • Paul Richardson (@worthastar)

    OH GOD couldn’t agree more. “What do you want?” is simply the best question because enthusiastic consent is just damn hot.

  • James

    Agreed on all counts. The best thing for me is knowing that someone who I want wants me. I honestly can’t understand how it’s possible for someone not to find that a turn on.

  • Alex

    Complicated though, just because people don’t always communicate their enthusiasm the same way. Obviously part of that is the reserved, British oh-go-on-thens and wouldn’t-say-nos, but there’s also a certain amount of social stigma attached to being direct about sex. A lot of it’s bollocks and can be unlearned to a point, but even then the language can be limited.

    Given almost all our words for sexual organs, activities and relationships sound either clinical, stupidly euphemistic or like a word for Jeremy Clarkson, you can’t expect everyone to be as comfortable talking about what they want as they are thinking about it or doing it. Talking openly about what you want to do in bed is a learned skill for a lot of people, and so is being comfortable expressing sexual enthusiasm. That’s without even mentioning the gendered social stigmas attached to acting like you actively want sex or are lukewarm/reluctant about it. Half of communication is getting a feel for how that person communicates what, so not everyone who seems enthusiastic is, and not everyone who is enthusiastic seems it.

    Aside from that, what about experiences that make you more apprehensive than enthusiastic, especially first time round? I suppose the classic examples would be BDSM and kissing with tongues – there’s potential to be nervous, reluctant, even terrified in the case of the second example, while definitely being willing. If you want to explore your limits and boundaries by doing things you’re not enthusiastic about, is there a way to be safe with consent on that?

    Also this is interesting by girlonthenet.

    • James

      I guess the answer is simply to talk to your parner – “I’d like to try this, but I’ve not done it before.”

    • Shard Aerliss (@Aerliss)

      “I suppose the classic examples would be BDSM and kissing with tongues – there’s potential to be nervous, reluctant, even terrified in the case of the second example,”

      Do you mean “first example”? If not; a full french snog’s really not that scary XD

      Actually, I didn’t realise anyone would find it scary.

      To answer your question; if someone doesn’t get an enthusiastic response to a question then they need to err on the side of not rape and stop. Better to cut some sex off in the middle and have an awkward though likely rewarding chat than become a rapist (at least I’d hope that would be everyone’s preference).

      • Alex

        Well, yeah, erring on the side of not raping anyone should pretty much be the golden rule.

        And yeah, that second one can be pretty scary first time round. I was nervous, awkward and not entirely sure it was what I wanted. It definitely didn’t come across as an enthusiastic yes, because I was well outside my comfort zone at that point. But I was entirely willing if half-reluctant.

        Just wondering how far enthusiastic consent protects people who want to experiment outside what they’re comfortable with.

        • stavvers

          With openness, a “hey, I’m not sure about this, but let’s give it a go”, there’d be a lot more vigilance for checking the signals and seeing how it’s going. And stopping if it’s not working, obviously. And switching it up if it’s going well!

          • Alex

            Like I said though, openness is an acquired skill and some people are crap at it. I’ve got a friend who doesn’t like saying anything more explicit than “man bits”, “lady bits” and “naughty times”. How she’s making it through Fifty Shades of Grey I can’t imagine. I’m crap enough at talking about things like fancying people. But either way I don’t think openness is always easy enough to achieve to work as a secure base for things.

            • boomer

              Sure but by being acquired means it by definition is something that should be worked on. The outcome here is not as imperative as the intent. Plenty of shy and reserved people have very successful relationships and conduct them with relative skills in communication, openness, and commitment to care and respect – there’s no reason why any of that needs to stop at their bedroom door. It may not be enthusiastic in the sense that others may interpret the term but its the same principles that under-lie it that are key.

            • Alex

              Intent is important, but not everyone communicates in the same way and I’m hesitant to tell anyone what they “should” work on for their consent to be taken seriously.

              Enthusiastic consent is the best system I’ve come across, but I’m wary of any one system when every single person has their own system of communicating.

            • boomer

              I’m unclear on where it is I’d said any of that. If you’d care to clarify, I’d appreciate it.

            • Alex

              “By being acquired means it by definition is something that should be worked on”

              I’m slightly sceptical about the he “should”, that’s all.

            • boomer

              Sorry, I didn’t realise you’d replied so quickly – didn’t mean to make you hang around.

              Ok. I didn’t say “he”, though. I said in order for a skill to be acquired, it should be worked on. This seems to me to be an obvious given. I think you’ve taken what I’ve said and subverted it into I’ve said people should behave in x, y, z way when what I’ve actually said is – and this is in agreement with you that some people do have difficulty in being more open than others – that it isn’t the outcome of the communication that’s necessarily the key but the intent behind it.

              People may have reluctance in saying they like this or that or prefer this or that but enthusiastic consent – or any consent, really – is automatically redundant by virtue of the communication at not least being sought. Seeking it and establishing its perimeters is something that should be worked on. This is simply stating the obvious and applies to all concerned.

  • cleanguy

    Things I find questionable: why anyone would not want to have amazing sex? Why it is still considered a secret that amazing sex begins and ends with uninhibited communication between consenting participants? But then a quick look around at some of nature’s worst blunders supplies answers.

  • Sisterhood

    A man I knew in my misspent youth who used to make love to me would pause completely during lovemaking to ask “are you okay?” and wait for my response (which was yes) then he’d asked “are you sure” only if I had confirmed everything was okay would he continue. I may not have explained this well but it made the sex hotter just knowing that he cared enough about me and my experience of our lovemaking to check and tho I had consented, to ensure I was still consenting and enthusiastically consenting. I’ve never felt so safe and considered before or since.

  • boomer

    Yeah, totally. Why they keep getting defensive on this point is beyond me. If you don’t communicate or, crucially, think communication’s important you are automatically approaching a woman as though she is your sexual subordinate to not only do to what you wish but also believe she has no choice but to accept it. How the fuck is that not thinking like a rapist?

    Please. Feminism isn’t here to ruin your sex lives; you’re doing that all on your own and dragging some poor woman you probably claim to ‘love’ otherwise into the filth of your own bad mentalities with you. Women are not your pre-ordained, inflict-whatever-the-hell-you-want-on-them fuck holes, thanks.

    Another awesome post. I wish you had a column or something. Tired of fucking wishy-washy appeasement.

  • colesk

    This is so totally hitting the nail on the head.
    It makes absolutely no sense to me that this would even be a question. Why wouldn’t you talk to the person you’re sleeping with?! This is why we have so many crap ‘sex advice’ columns, that solve nothing, when all it really takes is the ability to ask a damn question!
    I consider myself very happy and lucky that I don’t have to use codes and euphemisms with my current partner to say what I want, or how I feel – I am constantly surprised that talking would NOT be considered the way to guarantee good sex.

  • Anonymous

    Yes! I had been feeling awful reading all of the rape apologists because of one situation (I feel like) I got myself into where I was pressured into sex because I’d gone home with him and taken my clothes off (even though I had repeatedly said on way home that I didn’t want to sleep with him..) and then I remembered that every other person I have slept with has either said ‘Do you want me to..?’ or ‘What do you want me to do..?’ and I never feel dirty or guilty or used about those experiences because I know I said yes, and was happy to.

  • fishandrobot

    Apparently I cannot “multi-like” this post. i feel this is unfair, I want to give it many enthusiastic likes to convey how thoroughly I agree with the sentiment here, how often I have conversed, in wonder and awe, with people who do not get this, or who somehow just seem to want shit sex.

    Although it saddens me that we live in a world where we have to have this laid out as a system. I know the issue is very complicated in some respects, but surely everyone is cool with 1) Not raping people 2) not having dull, repetitive sex times.

  • Guess who’s a weeping syphilitic chode? That’s right, it’s still Brendan O’Neill « Another angry woman

    [...] you’re going to fuck someone, you have a responsibility to check everyone’s consenting. It’s what makes you a good shag (nobody’s as unsurprised as me that Brendan O’Neill has outed himself as a terrible [...]

  • Washed-up nobody continues to perpetuate rape culture « Another angry woman

    [...] cannot wrap their heads around. And it’s this that should be taught to everyone. Seeking enthusiastic consent helps you stop being a rapist and makes you a good fuck. The “no means no” message needs to [...]

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