What do you do when someone asks you for consent and it kills your vibe? Should you sort your attitude out and be pleased they checked in? Or is it reasonable to want consent to be acquired in a sexy manner?
IMHO, consent can be considered part of foreplay; warming each other up, both getting in the same lane and driving the plot forward. You can do this effectively without killing the engine.
Hear me out.
Regular readers of this blog will know I’m all about consent (is there any other moral way to be?) and I write about the importance of consent a lot. However, there’s a way consent can be asked for in a sexy fashion.
Picture this: It’s the first truly warm and sunny day in the UK this year. All afternoon, you’re drinking in sun-kissed bars on Brighton seafront with an attractive man you’ve been messaging for a while. That evening, he decides to stay a little longer and you take him to your favourite wine bars in town. You’re both pissed – but at that amusing, flirty level. There’s a lot of eye contact, leg touching and nice kissing.
Later in the evening, you realise he’s very drunk so rather than leaving him to make his way to the capital by train, you suggest you both go back to yours. (The next day you’ll be kicking yourself for this decision – he’s a grown man; he’s perfectly capable.) As you let both of you in through the front door, you hear him stumble behind you. Water then bed seems a good idea.
You’re delighted to crawl into bed; you’re knackered and he’s plastered, so you politely decline advances and roll over to sleep.
The next morning, he’s sober and horny. You’re only one of those things. He tries it on. You’re not overly interested and he probably senses this as he keeps asking, “Is this okay?”
The likelihood is that if you said “No”, he’d probably stop, but you try and get into the mood – after all, your date was fun. Sure, the leg stroking and neck kissing feel nice, but then he moves his hand to between your legs and you’re less keen. “Is this okay?” he asks. “Hmm,” you reply – not coldly but not enthusiastically, either.
Before long, his fingers are inside you, jabbing in a way that reminds you of those awkward fumbles as a 15-year-old. At least “Is this allowed?” makes for an interesting new line of questioning…
As you feel your eyes scrunching up and your thighs start to squeeze, you realise that, no, this is not okay and therefore isn’t allowed.
(The age-old dilemma of how a woman declines a man’s advances without being thought of as a tease or a bitch is something I presumed I would have nailed by now. At 30 years old, I still feel uncomfortable saying “No thanks” to someone in my bed.)
Fortunately, I worked out a way of indicating I was neither physically nor emotionally comfortable and he picked up on my cues. Not too much later, he left without any awkwardness but I spent the morning reflecting on what happened. It wasn’t so much the poor fingering technique that didn’t get me in the mood (although this really wasn’t ideal), it was the lack of confidence that accompanied his enquiry of whether what he was doing was allowed or okay. This man in my bed seemed very different to the confident man in his early 40s I flirted with all night. Perhaps I built up an impression that he’d have more sexual prowess.
“But hey! He was checking in and asking for consent!” I hear you cry.
Yes (and I’m not faulting him for that), although I feel it’s a lesson in the intricacies of sexual consent.