Warning: Contains extremely explicit language and description of sex-related activities
What is enthusiastic consent? Everyone has their own definition of the concept. However, generally, enthusiastic consent asks us to go beyond the “No Means No” definition consent (or lack thereof). It asks us to verbally/nonverbally obtain consent from our sex partner(s) and verbally/nonverbally convey our consent to our sex partner(s).
As our society and universities are forced by activists (on and off college campuses) to deal with the sexual assault epidemic, discussions about “enthusiastic consent” resurface. Sadly, how most news pundits and talk show hosts cover the issue still include mainly jokes about how “unromantic” and awkward it is. Worse, they frame the conversation as if the only good thing about incorporating enthusiastic consent in your sexual routine is so that you will not be accused, the morning after, of rape or sexual assault.
This is BULLSHIT.
To frame the conversation that way is a subtle form of gendered victim-blaming. It stems from a mistrust and fear of women, who with their “unpredictable” nature will accuse men of sexual assault or rape either for fun or when they regret what happened. The long process of filing a complaint, of facing the “accused” and of providing physical evidence would prevent even the most malicious of us to fake a report. That’s why the reality is, the number of unreported cases far exceeds the extremely small percentage of false cases.
Furthermore, enthusiastic consent IS sexy. And here is when I’ll get explicit to demonstrate.Stop reading if you feel uncomfortable with explicit language about sex.
Let’s talk about ways to obtain consent first. Please tell me if the above questions do not turn you on.
1) Do you want to f*** our brains out?
2) I want to lick your w** p**** so much right now. Do you want me to?
3) Do you want to make love?
You get the idea. (And often, a simple formula of “Can I *verb* your *noun*?” would work.) Enthusiastic consent is basically dirty talk–with the purpose of making sure that the other party is just as into us as we are into them. And no, I incorporate enthusiastic consent into my life not because I fear that my partner will “turn on me” and accuse me of something. It just makes better sex PERIOD. It’s a tool of communications that conveys desire, that conveys love and care, that seeks to know what another person wants out of sex, that lets you satisfy them better and get satisfied in return.
Now, let’s talk about ways to give consent. You can definitely say something along the line of:
1) I want you so much right now.
2) You’re making me so w** when you ______.
3) I really want your big c*** inside my t**** p**** this second.
Any more examples and I’ll feel like I’m writing an erotic novel. And I’m sure you can come up with much more romantic and sexier phrases than I have.
Anyway, our current framing of the conversations surrounding enthusiastic consent makes me really sad because only in a very closeted society filled with shame and guilt about sex can we feel uncomfortable, embarrassed and “turned off” by giving/obtaining consent–the very act that allows you to know, with certainty, how much the other person desires you. I say this because I’m a part of it too. I have been raised to want a guy to just kiss me instead of asking me if he can. I have been raised to shyly say yes when a guy asks if he can go down on me–not because I didn’t want to but because I was trained to, for no good reason, be ashamed of letting him give me that pleasure. And of course, I have been raised without a vocabulary to convey verbally to my partner what really turns me on. It’s taken a lot of work to begin to overcome that.
So when there’s a movement that asks us to confront our denial of sexual pleasure, that questions our puritan traditions, that asks us to build a language around mutual sexual pleasure, that asks us to take charge of our bodies and care for someone else’s–the only response we have is making jokes about it. Our failure to even imagine enthusiastic consent as sexy says more about us than the concept.
It really isn’t that hard to obtain and give verbal consent (even before each escalation), and it won’t ruin your romance, I promise. It allows you to know if the other person is really into the act right that moment. Maybe your long-term partner is tired and they might actually prefer a hot bath. Or maybe they’re just not in the mood. In that case, save this special act for another time, when they’re fully into it. At the end of the day, sex ISN’T about just you. It’s about you AND someone else. And we shouldn’t settle for well-it-wasn’t-rape sex. We shouldn’t settle for well-they-didn’t-say-no sex. We shouldn’t settle for sex where neither party knows if they’re pleasuring the other person. Those won’t give us the mind-blowing orgasms we deserve.