Gettin It: Consent
Photo Credit: Eye For Ebony via Unsplash
So, I have been thinking, re-thinking, and thinking some more about the concept of consent. I already wrote on this subject a month or so ago. It was posted to BLAVITY here. The gist of that article speaks about how there is no intersectionality with consent in the mainstream media. Meaning that when we talk about who has the rights to rule and govern their bodies, we are often talking about the power struggle between white men and white women. Men have dominated over women, and have called it God’s will. This way of ruling is similar but, some may say less harsh, than the way White men have also lorded over People of Color. Basically, the idea being that is has historically been okay to rape Black women and women of color, because people feel like people who are considered Jezebels, don’t have the right to say “NO!”
Folk have become very desensitized and almost expect men to do the ruling and women to be the ruled. We see the same concept depicted in various movies and TV shows. Maybe this is why I find Netflix’s The Crown so interesting. Here is this woman who is ruling over all, including her husband, who chaffes at being in “his place.” But anyway, back to consent. I wanted to make sure that we are on the same page. So in this post, we are talking about CONSENT, the definition, and how it relates back to pleasure and the sexual response cycle.
Definition: Consent means having permission to do something or having an agreement with someone. Where consent comes into sexuality is making sure that the person or people with whom you want to do some sexual activity, agrees with and also WANTS to do those activities with you. You should not coerce, convince, trick, deceive, lie, blackmail, etc. to get someone to have sex with you. AND you should be on the same page for what’s going to happen.
For example, a person can agree to “make out” with you. BUT it is both of your jobs to make sure that you both know what it means to “make out.” For some people making out only includes kissing, and touching the chest, back, and arms OVER clothes, while for others it can mean touching everywhere OVER clothes, and the chest, back and arms, UNDER clothes. The idea is to know exactly what you are consenting to and what your partner(s) are also consenting to. To have TRUE consent-- meaning that the person or people you are going to be enjoying sexually are conscious, sober, of legal age, and are able to consent-- means that y'all know what you want to do and how far you are willing to go BEFORE you start. It means making sure that you are on the same page before you start, checking in while you are going at it, and getting a feel for the temperature after you are done.
Yes, one, both, or all of you could change your minds. You can decide you want to go further than you discussed or that you want to stop altogether. For this communication skills are definitely needed. You have to know when you aren’t feeling it, and be brave enough to tell someone to stop. And if you’re the one being told to stop, you have to remember this ain't just about you and what you want. You need to listen to make sure the person or people you are having sex with are still on board. If they aren’t STOP! On the otha hand, if it all just feel so great and you want to keep the pleasure going, communicate that with your partner(s). "Keep going" and "Don't stop" are easily said in a moment of passion.
I know this can sound waaaaaaayyyyyyy complicated. And based off what they show on TV and in movies, it can seem like this is the opposite of SEXY! But, sex is about pleasure! It is about feeling great in your body alone or with help of another person(s). It’s about their pleasure and your pleasure. And really, how much pleasure can people have when someone doesn’t want to have sex with you or doesn’t want to do what you want sexally? Exactly! It wouldn’t be great for them, and you would have been the person to steal their joy. Not cool.
The sexual response cycle, that most people know, was created by Masters and Johnson back in the 60s. Basically the idea is this:
1. You start off feeling excited in your body. Start having sex and whatnot. 2 You feel great and it holds steady and increases incrementally 3. You have an orgasm 4. You and your body calms down.
The thing is though, this is very specific to the BODY and doesn’t talk at all about the mind! The body can still go through these phases even if a person doesn't want to have sex. ( and we know that not all people have orgasm) So the question is now what?
The answer is that there are other sexual response cycles that add a bit more. I personally think about this one, created by Whipple and Bash. Basically, you add desire before excitement, and you add the reflection after. The “Desire” part means that they WANT to have sex with you. And you have asked for and gotten an enthusiastic YES! Before assuming that because someone desires sex physically, that they want to have sex with you or that they are willing, mentally/emotionally.
I repeat: Just because someone PHYSICALLY looks like they want to have sex with you, doesn’t mean that they do! A person can desire sex physically and still say NO!
A person who WANTS to have sex with you (body and mind) will be after your pleasure and theirs, which makes it more fun. When you have enthusiastic consent for whatever sexual activity you are about to get into, when the person reflects back and thinks about all the nasty, delicious, toe curling stuff y'all did, they likely won’t feel coerced and violated. When people feel good about what happened, they are likely to want to do it again!
The Doc’s recommendation:
GET CONSENT!!!! It’s really that simple. If you want to get some coaching on how to get consent or seem unsure…