Illustration by Erika Moen
There’s only one sure-fire way to avoid being in a consensual gray area in a sexual scenario; use your grown-up words and explicitly ask for consent. If you’re a shy or less verbal person, this might seem like a daunting task.
First let’s deal with some of your concerns…
1. I don’t like “asking.”
People (especially men) have told me that “asking permission” feels weak, that it establishes a power dynamic from the get-go that may not be a total turn on. Can I suggest this adjustment to your logic: the “ask” is a sign of ultimate respect, a new “laying your cape over a mud puddle.” Because who can remember to bring their cape all the time? If your boo is into consent, asking IS foreplay.
2. It makes sex so mechanical.
Maybe there is a small loss of spontaneity. But if you get consent beforehand, or better yet, have a grown up discussion of what you are into and when/where you want to get it, you’ll have the green light to get as weird-as-you-wanna-be when the time comes. I’ll take kink over spontaneity any day.
3. Girl’s are the brakes, boys are the gas.
Why are you even reading this column, you dumb dinosaur?! There’s an assumption that cis-gender straight males are ALWAYS trying to get it IN and it’s the “woman’s job to put on the brakes.” It’s 2016, dummies. That kind of over-simplification is over. Yes, let’s acknowledge the long history of teaching men to “ask” consent and women to “give” consent *cough* rape culture *cough*. However, women can help this process by participating in the culture of consentthemselves, asking and granting permission also.
4. I don’t know how.
For a lot of us, this is new. We’re finding the language, the rhythms and the emotions associated with consent. It’s OK for it to feel awkward. We’re all gonna be so good at this soon (a great resource is sex educator/graphic artist Erika Moen’s blog entry on consent). If you’re just getting your feet wet, here are some phrases to try out:
Would it feel good if I ….?
Would you like it if I…?
Do you like it when…?
Here are some phrases that sound less like questions:
It would feel so good if you…
It turns me on when you…
When you _____, it makes me hot
I love it when you ____
I want you to _____
Okay now here are some perfectly reasonable verbs to add to this sentence:
stick it inside (where applicable)
Finish it with a subject:
Try it with your partner, your weekend lover, or whatever lucky, sunsick fool you hook up with tonight. And don’t thank me too much when you ask permission to fuck and your consent-lovin’ bae floods their basement.
Wishing you great love and hot, consensual action,