Thursday, April 11, 2013

Consent: A Definition

Remember that one time, I wrote a post on consent, and I promised to write more on consent, like how consent can be sexy, and then I never did?

Yeah, sorry about that. Life happened? I was distracted by other blog ideas? I wrote posts that were timely with current events?

Speaking of current events, consent should be a timeless idea, but in the Steubenville aftermath, and to honor Sexual Assault Awareness Month, bringing it up again seems especially appropriate.

Confession: My observations of the political and social climate in the States are clouded by my identity as a feminist. (Shocking revelation, I know).

I spend a borderline-obsessive amount of time educating myself on the gender pay gap (it exists, but whining about 77 cents on the dollar makes you look like an uninformed idiot), following proposed and enacted anti-choice legislation seeking to limit women’s reproductive health (I then inform Beau of states where we cannot live one day, like North Dakota), and studying sexual assault (the prevalence, the perpetrators, the different forms, societal causes, etc.).

One of the most encouraging trends I’ve noticed in the last year is the appearance, at least, of more people calling for a change in rape prevention. The trendy feminist thing to say is “Don’t teach women not to get raped. Teach men not to rape.” Campaigns include Men Can Stop Rape and Don’t BeThat Guy.

From the new bystander intervention campaign.

One of the most discouraging trends I’ve noticed, however, is the


Disgusting, whiny, misogynistic, uncaring attitude from waaaaaaaay too many men who are falling over themselves to see who can be the most obnoxious and privileged asshole of all time.

Not all men are rapists! I’m offended at the implication! No fucking duh. Look, feminists are a little tired of prefacing every conversation about rape with the disclaimer that we know most men aren’t rapists. But guess what. Most rapists are men. So if we’re gonna talk about rape, we gotta talk about men. GET OVER YOUR DAMN PRIVILEGE.

What, I have to get consent now every time I have sex? That’s absurd! What a mood-killer. You’re a fucking idiot who’s either a rapist or just really lousy in bed. If you can’t find a sexy way to get clear consent from your partner, YOU’RE DOING IT WRONG.


Or, more nicely put, one of the most discouraging trends I’ve noticed is when some men don’t understand what feminists are trying to do and thus lash out with irrational fear.

Y’all, consent is not that scary. No one is demanding abstinence from anyone. But is it really too much to ask that you only have sex (or engage in other sexual activity) with someone who’s an eager and willing participant?

So what is consent?

From the Health Promotion Department of the University Health Center at the University of Georgia:

Consent is a voluntary, sober, imaginative, enthusiastic, creative, wanted, informed, mutual, honest, and verbal agreement.

Voluntary: Your partner knows she can say no. Your partner feels safe saying yes.

Sober: You’ve had a few drinks, but you and your partner both know your tolerance levels, and you’re still capable of making sound judgment. | You’re feeling drunk, but you still want to have sex with your sober partner. Your partner suggests you two cuddle and kiss for some time first, giving you a chance to sober up. | You really like drunken sex, so you talk to your partner while you’re both still sober about having sex later when drunk.

Imaginative: (see Creative, see Informed) Consent isn’t a blanket statement to do anything and everything. Consent is open communication between partners on sexual likes and dislikes. Be honest with your partner about what you’d like to try, before you experiment with something new.

Enthusiastic: When you say “Yes” after saying “No” for hours, because your partner won’t stop badgering you, this is not enthusiastic consent. While judgment varies on whether or not this is rape, your partner cares about her own sexual needs more than your feelings.

From FORCE: Upsetting Rape Culture

Creative: (see Imaginative) Sometimes you both might want sex, but there are obstacles in the way. Creativity includes skype sex (long distance relationships FTW), shower sex (apparently good when kids are in the picture), and other fun solutions other than missionary position in the marital bed.

Wanted: You should desire your partner, and your partner should desire you.

Informed: (see Imaginative) Your partner knows you hate ABC, but you love XYZ. You told your partner you wanted to try 123, your partner counter-offered with 456, and you two agreed on 789.

Mutual: You consent to your partner. Your partner consents to you.

Honest: You and your partner trust each other. You and your partner adhere to all sexual decisions made together. If your feelings change about a sexual act, you tell your partner. If your partner is accidentally causing you pain in bed, you speak up. You and your partner maintain open communication about your sexual needs.

Verbal agreement: Your partner starts initiating sex, but you don’t respond. Your partner stops and asks you if you’re interested in sex. Your partner waits for an answer.

This might seem like a lot to remember, but if you’re really good at reading comprehension, you’ve noticed I’m basically saying the same stuff over and over again. 1) Do you want to have sex? 2) Does your partner want to have sex? If you both answer yes, have sex. If either of you answers no, don’t have sex.



  1. i love this campaign!!! finally.
    thanks for your sweet words on my blog. everyone wants more personal posts, but i find those are my least-viewed, so i'm glad someone out there enjoys them!
    and one of my goals was to make a video, so i did, if you'd like to see.
    thank you again for reading!! xo

    1. Yeah, I think it's really great that the conversation on consent/sexual assault is finally changing.

      Write what makes you happy. Don't worry about the page views. :)


Thanks for reading and commenting!

Anonymous commenting disabled while my mom is sick.

Comments are moderated because I receive a lot of spam, and I think CAPTCHA is annoying. I reply to most of your comments within the comment section because it inspires discussion between readers. For first-time commenters, I try to reply by email.

Yes, you can comment anonymously. Yes, you can disagree with me. However, as of 05/31/2013, if you are commenting anonymously, and your words are hateful or abusive, I will publish these at my discretion. I like that my blog can be a forum for discussion, but anything that blames or mocks survivors of sexual assault will NOT be tolerated.


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