Let's Talk About Consent
One of the most basic topics within Sex Education is unfortunately the most ignored. We all remember learning about the risks of STDs, how to put a condom on a banana (cucumber, etc), or unintended pregnancies. But do any of us really remember any quality education on the topic of consent? I sure don’t, and haven’t heard from many people that do. It’s a shame because this is an incredibly important topic of education. Often sexual assault/coercion is seen as violent, random, and physical when the reality is that sexual assault is often more subtle. It usually happens between two people who know each other, and it often looks like relentless asking, pressure, manipulation, or pursuing without permission. One way our culture perpetuates the normalization of sexual assault is by failing to educate us about consent and practice good examples of sexual communication. So let's break it down!
It’s a “HELL YES” instead of a “I guess so…”. It’s understood that the behavior is very much a clear YES.
2. Freely Given!
It’s given freely and willinging! Not under pressure or after saying no 100 times first.
It’s given by an adult who is not under the influence of substances or incoherent for any reason!
4. Ongoing and can be withdrawn at any time!
It’s possible to consent to something in one moment and not in the next! This is why check-ins and good communication is important.
What Does Sexual Communication Look Like?
Having the language and tools to effectively communicate boundaries, needs, desires, yes’s and no’s is key to practicing consent. They don’t always look the same for everybody, but conversations should be happening before, during, and after sexual encounters. Talk often! About everything!
I often get the vibe from people that they look at sex as something that just naturally occurs without much deliberation. This is partly due to our culture and media. Romance novels and movies have us believing that someone trying really really hard even after we’ve said no is romantic. Or that throwing yourself onto someone else without asking is sexy. Not only is this unrealistic, but in the real world it’s gross! Talking about what you like and don’t like, discussing boundaries and limits is HOT. It also leads to the most fulfilling sexual experiences.
Discussions beforehand can look like talking about what you’re into, expressing hard limits, or agreeing on safewords. Check-ins during, can look like reading body language and expressions, asking “do you like that?” “how is this?” “more?”. Conversations afterward can include a playback, if you will. “This was so good” “I wasn’t super into that”. Sexual communication only makes sex better. It also helps all parties involved to feel more safe and secure.
The bottom line is, consent isn’t just sexy - it’s mandatory. This has just been a brief overview of the topic, however at Excitement we believe that normalizing sexual communication is important! Discussing the things we definitely didn’t learn in SexEd class is one way to promote a more sex positive world :)
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