Asking for It: Consent and SuperWomen

Consent.

We don’t always get sexy around here, but today I think we will. This post will contain some mature subject matter.

Yesterday I discovered this link, which may be a little triggery (don’t read the comments) and is NSFW, but the message is a good one: that if someone isn’t wearing clothes (or is only wearing a little), it doesn’t matter who you are — no touchy unless you are given permission.

There may be a mention or two of rape in this article, but I’ll try to keep it to a minimum, and it won’t be explicit.

Consent is sometimes treated like a buzzkill. Today I’d rather talk about how inherently sexy it really is.

What’s sexier: a puddle of treacle or a warm, steaming sticky toffee pudding?

In books, movies, graphic novels — I’ve started looking for active consent. And I’ve barely found it. We are inundated with the idea of passive consent, or that the absence of a no means yes. We’re expected to read our partners’ minds to know what they want, when maybe getting an explicit yes could be the gateway to something extraordinary.

When I was going through adolescence, I was fascinated by sex. I think that’s pretty normal for erm…most teenage hormone bombs. In one of my early encounters, I remember the guy I was making out with asking me if it was okay if he put his hand on my waist. And if what we were doing was okay. And I was surprised. Looking back, I wish I could reach back through time and give that guy a medal. He asked. I said yes. It was fun.

The language out there in the world suggests that Manly Men take sex as a given. I occasionally read romance novels as a teen, and I remember how prevalent that was. Hell, several of the ones I read had the women falling for their rapists. Big Manly Men who took sex because women were property. That’s actually…less than romantic, to say the very least.

Recently, though, I’ve read a few books where consent was explicit. Where both parties said yes. And in my books, I’ve tried to make sure that there’s never a question of whether my protagonists or the people they’re with are consenting. Because for me, there’s nothing more sexy than a sultry, enthusiastic, emphatic yes.

Sex is not something that is done to someone else. It’s something all parties participate in.

Remember the True Blood theme song? “I Wanna Do Bad Things With You” by Jace Everett?

Notice the operative word with.

That very song, as dark and steamy as it sounds, still manages to imply dual ownership, partnership. Consent is a heady thing, and in a culture where women’s bodies are often treated like public property and all the debate and ruffled egos that fuss when women asserting agency over them still gets airtime, it’s always refreshing to see evidence that not everyone looks at women as a series of holes.

So what is consent?

Consent is permission. It’s “Can I touch you here?” “Yes!” It’s “Please touch me here.” It’s “I’d like it if you touched me there.” It’s “Touch me.” It’s “I want you.” It’s any number of things you can say that change a red light to bright green.

Sometimes, yes, people do communicate these things non-verbally — but if you are in a place of knowing and desiring sex with someone and the other person seems to want the same, why not make sure?

Yes, asking means the other person can say no. But look at it this way: if you don’t ask and they just go along with it, how would you feel to find out later? Some people don’t feel comfortable saying no for any number of reasons. Maybe they don’t feel safe. Maybe they’ve a past you don’t know about. Consent is about respecting that you can’t be inside someone else’s head and understanding that a no is not a rejection of you as a human being; it’s about the other person’s needs.

Having sex with someone shouldn’t happen because neither person says no; it should happen because both people say yes. 

And isn’t that better? Isn’t it more delicious to think of touching someone who has told you that that is exactly what they want? Knowing that when your skin touches theirs, it excites them every bit as much as it excites you?

Well, this has been a bit of a departure for us over here, but I thought it bore saying. 🙂 So what do you think, SuperFolk?