Consent is Sexy

Let’s Talk Opinion in conversation with Queer Guess Code

“We’ve gotten the idea from movies and magazines that silence is sexy.  Ultimate romance means fireworks and fairy dust sprinkling down from the heavens and instilling in us some magical intuition where both people suddenly just know what the other wants.  Speaking out loud in full sentences would break the rhythm, ruining the mystical thrill of the spontaneous moment.  And GOD FORBID you ask permission to do anything.  I mean, come on, major boner killer.” Un-Memorizing the “Silence is Sexy” Date Script

beach-love-couple-silhouette1

I was quite taken by this article when I first read it a month or so ago, before the start of the Let’s Talk Opinion series. What struck me most was one particular insight, which I had never considered before:

“Women are not given enough opportunities to say ‘yes.’”

The piece begins with the author’s account of a personal experience: “We were kissing.  Lying on the cold wood floor, my hand travelled across her stomach and she whispered, “I think we should take it slow.”  I agreed immediately.  Before moving in to kiss her again, I said, “Just tell me when to stop.””

They thought this to be a considerate, respectful reaction. However, what followed next disabused them of this notion: “Pulling away from me, her face took on a serious expression … what she said was, “Women are not given enough opportunities to say ‘yes.’””

Indeed. We always assume that a woman has the right to say no, but it is seldom that we consider the possibility that a woman ought to be given the opportunity to say yes.

This is all a big part of how men and women are socialised to behave in relationships. Men are expected to make the first move, be the active agent. Whereas women are expected to be the recipients of sexual advances, keep silent if they concur and say no or stop if they don’t want to go any further.

This may become problematic in a situation where the advances are welcome, but where a woman feels uncomfortable to go as far as the man may want or expect it to go once the first move is made. A woman may “want a hug goodnight, but not a kiss,” may be “excited about kissing, but uncomfortable with petting,” or they may even be very “enthusiastic about making out, but aren’t ready for sex.” Saying no puts a dampener on whatever is going on, even if the no only refers to the next step and could even result in a negative feeling about an experience that was otherwise positive.

If a woman hesitates for too long, wanting for… the petting say, to continue, but not wanting for it to become anything more, then she “could end up doing any variety of things against her innermost wishes,”  and the author argues that this “silence is sexy” model is in part responsible for creating rape culture.

Queer Guess Code‘s solution to this is a simple and straightforward one: Give women some agency by pausing now and then and allowing them to say YES and ask for what they want!  I swear, it is sexy as hell to give somebody exactly what you know they want, without wondering if you’re guessing wrong.”

Not everyone agrees however. Here is irisisinspiredca’s reaction to this article: “I’m sorry, but why is it someone else’s job to ask you what you want? Shouldn’t everyone, regardless of their sex, be able to assert their needs and desires independently of being requested to do so? It is easier to learn to express yourself than to consistently check if someone else needs to express themselves. … It’s a very pertinent topic to be discussing, and I’m glad to see it raised, but I still think it is easier (and more essential for self-satisfaction in all areas) to change you, than to try to change others.”

I agree with what they say about it being important to express yourself and your desires, feel confident and be comfortable about what you want and express it as such. However, I am confused by their last statement in relation to this article: “it is easier (and more essential for self-satisfaction in all areas) to change you, than to try to change others.”

Umm… isn’t the author doing exactly that, changing themselves rather than trying to change others (i.e. the woman)? In and of itself, certainly it is a very good and wise comment to make, but I do not see how the author of this article has in any way gone against it.

After all, they are not trying to change anyone else. They shared their experience of asking for, and receiving (or not in some cases), explicit consent, and imparted how this has impacted their particular relationships with women. Certainly, perhaps by writing publicly about their experience the implication is that they are attempting to change others (there are those who still struggle with asking verbally for consent).

And yet… I get the impression from the context in which the comment was made that it is not the author that they are referring to, but rather other women.

Would it be fair to say that what they are suggesting is that women should change their own stance when it comes to the bedroom, be more explicit without being prompted about what they want, rather than change men so that they would ask explicitly for consent?

This to me appears to be the implied meaning of that sentence, and if that is the case, then I would beg to differ.

It is not that I disagree with what they say. Yes. women should take charge. However, this position on the matter – in the interest of empowerment – appears to once again put the responsibility for what happens on women.

I think there is a point in changing men’s attitudes too. They are also present in the situation.

It is a 50/50, so whilst women should be encouraged to be more vocal in expressing what they do and do not want, men equally should be encouraged in expressing the same, and each side could ask the other whether they are ok with the level of intimacy reached and whether they want to keep it there or go further.

Equality after all does work best when it works both ways.

What is your take on the matter?

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Let’sTalk Opinion posts engage with issues that are important to other bloggers, connecting with others on matters close to their heart. If you like a topic and would like to contribute, please feel free to add to the comment box, reblog, share, email or message me on Twitter @shardsofsilence.

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51 thoughts on “Consent is Sexy

  1. Ma’am vicbriggs – my response got so bizarrely long – I am going to put it in a blog post.
    I am LOVING you posts! Fabulous!
    This here – another one close to my heart and so so soooo many flip sides and ideologies to be exposed or expressed.
    Gonna reblog – and then post my response 😉

  2. Actually – This will take longer to write than anticipated – but I WILL be linking back here should I articulate my thoughts better 😉 My mind wonders and thoughts get intermingled right!
    Keep writing babe – it is inspiring 😀

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  4. In the interest of a truly consensual relationship surely the woman may ask the man what she may do to him as well.

    50/50 kind of dealio.

    • Found it! “each side could ask the other whether they are ok with the level of intimacy reached and whether they want to keep it there or go further” – so we are in agreement once again.
      Thank you for your comment, Kavalkade.

    • feel me Vicki? 🙂 @Kaufman’s Kavalkade just ruffled a rather big feather with his question 🙂
      Why are we discussing this?lol What happens when the female is the doer,more vocal and active so to speak of the two involved?What will the poor fella do? Talking sex and intimacy on a casual level is risky…because there is so much to put in consideration; this is of course in a consensual situation huh?

      I hear this all the time, women want to be chased after, lusted after or whatever word is used these days, but it’s not wholly so folks. There’s an increasing breed of females who seem to know exactly what it is they want and need and simply snap it up!
      In fact, they are quite a few who may find this very topic insulting, hehehehe. Who says they wait to be asked or give an answer for that matter? they see,they go and they get! Simple enough I think, so Vicki,how about expanding the subject a little? It’ll make this discussions more balanced. Or are my completely off the topic? Interesting stuff here gal, get back quick.

      • Perhaps you misunderstand me, it’s actually a good point you raised which I supported in my comment. The presumption that this applies to all females is what I’m talking about.

      • Oh, Well you said I ruffled a feather. I assumed it was yours that was ruffled.

        Didn’t note anyone elses feathers being ruffled in the discussion.

        Cheers.

      • Lol, I generalized, hope you get my drift though,no offense intended. Vicki’s post touched ob something I hear a lot of females talk about and many in my discussions have also raised your point,perhaps that is why I used my phrase.

      • Of course, this refers to consensual relationships. I decided that to go into the other kind would be spreading the topic a little thin. That is a subject for another post.

        I completely understand where you are coming from, Dotta, as I happen to be one of those women who never waited to be chased after and wooed, but rather knowing full when what and whom I wanted I went straight in come what may. I’ve never had a problem telling whomever I was dating exactly what I did and did not want and… dare I say it? My colleagues nicknamed me la femme fatale as a result.
        I was shocked when I found that out, and that made me realise that not everyone was like me, that many young women struggled to voice their needs and desires and still believed that it was up to men to make the first move.

        Whether a woman is assertive or not I think is determined in part by their cultural background. In the society I was born and raised, I was the exception to the rule, although in my adopted country I would probably say that there are more assertive women that unassertive ones (or at least I like to think so.)
        I tried to balance the argument and say that when it comes to consent, this applies to both women and men. We can’t assume that the man wants to take things further either, hence that last paragraph which I quoted in reply to Kavalkade’s comment.
        It’s a tough one, because like you say, for strong women this may come across as somewhat patronising, and this was definitely not my intent, but at least it gets the ball rolling and opens up discussion, which is always a good thing 🙂 What do you say?

  5. The last sentence was a perfect summation. Myself, I think the man should honor the woman’s wishes, put animal greed behind, and help her feel all the sensations that the human body can provide. Yes, I believe men should take the time to revere the gifts of sex between lovers. And I’m addicted to her pleasure. But that’s just me.

  6. It surely is a 50/50 deal and we “say” that it is, but I still have small inklings of feelings telling me this always isn’t so. It’s like how we know what the right thing to do is but we seldom actually follow it. As in terms of relationships of the sexes, both your insights, the comment-er, and the author have firm grounds in terms of modernizing relationship dos and don’ts. Meanings change over time, like how traditional roles of all women were to be submissive but now submissiveness means a totally different thing to women. It all comes down to how much we can actually express into words what exactly we want without being ashamed or judged. Sorry for the rambling, I feel that I can chat forever about these things. Carry on with your wonderful posts! I’m always eager for more 😉

    • I agree, there is certainly a discrepancy between what we know we ought to be doing and what we actually do. The good thing is that this gap is becoming smaller, at least for many women, as they embrace their own needs and become more vocal about it.
      I have always preferred to be the initiator, rather than the recipient of attention. I did not know at the time that what I was doing was asserting myself, but that’s what I felt comfortable with.
      My aunt once told me that a woman will always be in a better position to dictate her own happiness if she does the choosing rather than waiting to be chosen. Wise lady.
      Have you read Northanger Abbey by Jane Austen? Your words reminded me of the two main characters, as Austen suggests that he fell in love with her in part because he had been gratified by her inability to hide her partiality and admiration of him. I wonder how many instances of that can be found in real life.
      Lovely comment, love o’clock. Thank you. 🙂

      • No, I actually haven’t read that yet but it seems I should very soon. I shall put that on my reading list to read over the holidays. Thank you for the suggestion. You can never go wrong with Jane Austen anyways. As for your aunt, she really is a wise lady and I agree 100%. Times are slowly changing, hopefully it’ll be towards the better. 😉

      • My pleasure, love o’clock. It’s a sweet story. I’m sure you’ll enjoy it. The latest ITV adaptation is quite good as well, but I always prefer to read the novel first.
        I certainly hope that the changes are all for the better 🙂

  7. Yes what’s wrong with a bit of talking, it does put men off, sometimes. But, truthfully most people like to talk and ask, if the women don’t they should, men aren’t mind readers, most aren’t especially bright ether 😉

    Good post V

    • Thank you, Scarlet. Yep, I am definitely in favour of talking things through. The first time I did it with my partner there was a note of embarrassment and awkwardness, but I found that our intimacy increased after. And getting exactly what you like and want, and being able to do the same for the other, as well as making sure what each does not like, generally has a positive impact all around.
      Thank you, Scarlet. 🙂

      • Everyone feels awkward with each other the first few times, its only natural, the same was true of almost all of my former clients and it was certainly true of my private affairs. It’s a natural thing, we are all self concious in that kind of intimacy.
        Communication is always the key and being sensitive enough to pick up on things.
        🙂

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  9. I’d always thought that’s why dating was invented. You can learn a lot by dating! I would always give her my number if I liked her, and if she called me back, that looks like a big, green lite to me. Body language usually says it all; does she lean forward when you speak, or sit back, with less interest? If you both feel comfortable and know it, you can always try for the big goodnight kiss, Then you know for sure. Did she give you her cheek? Bad sign. Did she pull away first? There’s always lots to let you know what’s going on before all three stages separate and you achieve lift off…

    • Thank you, Spartacus. You are right, body language can tell a lot, but not everyone is good at reading the signs. Hope you’re having a wonderful start to the new year.

      • Oh no. Not really Vic. I got the flu for Christmas and the silly thing keeps hanging on. I’ll be OK. It’s just a little rough…

        Not that that wasn’t a terrific post Vic! Oh look! A ‘that that’! I love those crazy English quirks… I ‘do do’ them well :O)

        In point of fact, your post inspired me to do a post on dating to help you with some of us knuckle heads out there. LOL! Us men real can be a sorry lot!

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    • Thank you, I’m pleased you liked the post. I’ve read Ali’s as well as yours. I think you are right that the topic is regarded as somewhat taboo and people still feel uncomfortable discussing it – perhaps because they are not entirely at ease with admitting to that part of themselves? I’m glad you blogged on the topic, and you seem to have started the conversation on Ali’s post as well: once you broke the ice the comments started pouring in 🙂

      • I thought the same thing! Nobody was commenting and then puf….The doors were open. I am happy that I have been the one to open them because it should really not be a taboo talking and writing about it. It’s not like we write I don’t know what, it is just opinions and freely expressing yourself. I will go check out the comments. 😀

      • Sometimes the first step is the most difficult one and I believe your comments gave others courage. You are right: expressing one’s opinion freely is important. Thank you, Ivy.

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