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Enthusiastic Consent

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“True consent is enthusiastic consent—a deliberate and thoughtful process—not something that can be interpreted.”
 
May all the sex you have not just be a, “well, ok.  I guess.” but a “hell, yes!”
 
One of the most exciting topics I discuss at safer sex workshops is this concept of enthusiastic consent.
Think about all the bad sex you might avoid by only doing it when you really want to.  Sex you aren’t into having is non-consensual sex.  It’s also likely to be at worst, painful and at best, just bad sex.  Learning what you really want means you’ll be more empowered to say, ‘hell, yes’ when you are into it.  If you’re not into a sexual encounter, then your body may not really relax, vaginas or butts may not open readily for intercourse, and that means you could get hurt.  I know it’s depressing, but think about any time you’ve had painful sex when it was rushed or you weren’t into doing it.  My point exactly.
 
The good news is that there’s a whole movement of culture shifters, writers and bloggers talking about enthusiastic consent out loud and without shame.
 
Think about the scary concept of the ‘grey area’ when people talk about rape (ifand when).  Sara Alcid recently wrote on everyday feminism about debunking this myth of the grey area around consent.
In a culture where people are scared to talk about sex and their desires, it’s no wonder many assumptions are made on the way to doing it.  Alcid cites the wrong messages that sexy clothes = someone wants sex, or that men are the gate keepers of respecting ‘no means no’.  Actually, sexy clothing is merely an expression of one’s style.  And if we let men only be the decision makers about consensual sex, then women lose all agency in whether they choose sexy time or not.  Plus, she points out, the whole men as gatekeeper thing is pretty heteronormative.
 
Alcid also points out that, “Consent should be thought of as an ongoing process and conversation—just because you’ve given consent once, are in a relationship with someone, or even married to them does not mean that you are obligated to have sex with your partner.”
 
Remember that you are allowed to want sex sometimes and not other times, whether it’s with the same partner you’re married to or a new date you just met.  Just because you did it before, doesn’t mean you have to do it again.
 
Practice talking to your partner or a new crush early and often about your desires, fantasies and fears.  It’s often easier to have these conversations over coffee or out on a walk in the light of day.  It’s often most awkward when you blurt out your desires or fears as you both undress.  The truth is, though, that the latter is much more common.  It can be challenging to verbalize these thoughts, but the reward will be priceless.  It’s these intimate conversations that keep a couple intimate and bonded.  Focus on what you like and offer appreciation for what turns you on.  If you’re getting it on with someone, remember that they take pleasure in making you smile, so give them plenty of ideas on how to please you.
 
As Alcid writes, we must hold ourselves to a higher standard of sexual communication in order to get the sex we want.   Get it!

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