Friday, May 3, 2013

Consent: A How-To Guide

I really doubt anyone expected a "how-to" post anything like this.

I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again: Consent is sexy. I’ve even been just a little bit mean and said that if you don’t know how to make consent sexy, then you’re probably bad at sex.

So this is me being nice and explaining: 1) how to ask for consent and 2) how to give consent.
Original image found at UMass Dartmouth website

Asking for Consent

A first kiss: I know three sexy approaches to kissing your date for the first time.

  1. This is a rule I’ve heard many places before, and a quick google search indicates I should credit the movie Hitch. You go 90% and let the man go 10%. In other words, lean in for the kiss, but not quite all the way. If your partner is into it, your lips will touch. If he’s not, you have given him the time and the space to turn his head so your lips brush his cheek.
  2. Ask! I know some people whine that this “ruins the moment,” but trust me, if you asking ruins the moment, either there wasn’t actually a moment or you didn’t ask confidently. Look him directly in the eye, smile, and tell him you want to kiss him. Then raise your eyebrows, lick your lips, and ask him if that’s okay.
  3. This is basically a combination of the first two. Tell him you’re going to kiss him and then move in for the kiss. He knows what you’re going to do, and, again, he has time to stop you if he’s uncomfortable.

I kissed Beau after our second date. We were sitting in his car outside my apartment. We both agreed that we had enjoyed a lovely night together, and we both agreed that we wanted to see each other again. I took off my seat belt, shifted very intentionally in my seat, reached out my right hand to his head so my fingers were in his hair and my palm was along his jaw, tilted my head, and leaned in to kiss him. It only took a few seconds for him to kiss me back, and a few more for him to start running his fingers through my hair.

If he has not started kissing you back after about five seconds, pull away and talk to him! If you did your best to get nonverbal consent before the kiss, and you pull away with a lack of response, then you’re okay. Most people would agree that’s not sexual assault.

Kissing to… anything more:

  1. Move slowly! If y’all are making out, fully clothed, don’t just immediately grab the sexy parts. Starting on the outside of the clothing, explore her body slowly, starting with her back, hips, and sides. If she doesn’t move your hands away, she doesn’t stop kissing you, and she does respond to it, then you can try touching her butt or boobs. Again, moving slowly is key! Always give her time to move your hands away or tell you to stop. Always pay attention to her reactions.
  2. Ask her questions. “Do you like that?” and “Is this okay?” are always good. “Should we move this to the bedroom?” implies that some clothing will be removed, but receiving a “yes” to this question is NOT equal to consent for everything.
  3. Talk dirty! This can be the sexiest part of consent (and for me, the most difficult—I’m quiet in bed!). “Do you want me to [INSERT SEXY STUFF]?” can be SUPER hot. Just wait for an enthusiastic yesssssss before proceeding with [INSERT SEXY STUFF].
Image found at this blog

Beau and I had our first make-out session after our third date. He came up to my apartment to grab his dinner leftovers from my fridge. He waited in the living room for me while I took a pit stop to the loo. When I was done, he stood up and said, “Well, I guess you’d like a good-night kiss.” I nodded eagerly and said yes. He walked over to me, and we started kissing. And kept kissing. And kissed some more. His hands rubbed my back and my sides and then ever so slightly dipped down to the top of my butt and back up again. His ran his hands up my stomach and briefly over my boobs. I responded by pulling him closer to me. Eventually his hands slipped below my shirt. Eventually he unhooked my bra. At which point I pulled away and said we could continue making out elsewhere. I then offered the couch, the large chair, and my bed. Beau told me whichever one I preferred. So I took his hand and pulled him into my bedroom, where I took off my shirt and pulled off my bra. Beau then took off his shirt, I sat on the bed, pulled him to me, and we started making out again.

If she ever pulls away from you, or moves your hands, or says anything negative, STOP what you’re doing. I should not have to move your hands away from my crotch three times in an hour. That is not okay. Nonverbal consent does exist, but if you have any doubts, ASK your partner.

Giving Consent

The burden is always on the initiator to ask for (and receive!) consent before any sexual activity, but being proactive about giving consent and talking about boundaries is an important aspect of a healthy sexual relationship.

Casual dating/hooking up: Be up front about your boundaries. Seriously, this has been so helpful in my own life. The first time I made out with Ron,* I told him in the middle of us kissing, “Before I take my shirt off, you know we’re just making out, right?” During the aforementioned first make-out session with Beau, I told him about my inexperience with anything below a man’s waist and how I wasn’t comfortable doing anything there yet. We continued to talk about this until I became comfortable seeing him naked, first on skype and then in person.

In a relationship:

  1. Talk about sex when you’re not having it. Early in our relationship, I told Beau the activities I was and was not comfortable doing in front of our parents and our siblings. He told me what he was and was not comfortable doing in public, period. We’ve had other conversations since then, like when I can tease him, and when it’s a bad idea. Like I know now not to flirt too much when we’re in public and he’s wearing a swimsuit, for example. We also talk about things we’d like to try in bed and other boundaries we might have.
  2. Give consent sober. This one might get me some feminist flames, but it works for my relationship. I usually get tipsy/drunk off champagne or wine at weddings with open bars. And after a night celebrating my friends’ marriage, and dancing, and flirting with Beau, I’m usually in the mood. Thus I tell Beau before the wedding about how much I’m looking forward to being alone after the wedding. I give consent to sexi time before I drink a drop of alcohol.
  3. Waking someone up for sexi time can be really fun and REALLY hot, but you have to be really careful that your partner is into it. Beau usually wakes up before I do. When he wants to rouse me by arousing me, he starts by spooning me. He then plays with my hair a bit, kisses my neck a bit, and lightly runs his fingers along my side/hip/thigh. Usually I respond by making happy murmuring noises and pushing my butt back against his groin. I like to draw it out, because the seduction is sooo much fun, but eventually I turn around and start kissing him. When I’m not interested, however, I either don’t respond or I just tell him that I’m too tired. If I haven’t responded after a few minutes, he stops the sexy part of cuddling and just cuddles me. Or, more likely, he gets out his laptop. A handful of times I have gone to bed much later than Beau. On two occasions, I talked to him beforehand about waking him up in the middle of the night with a blow job. Yes, it is less of a “surprise” by talking about it, but then I don’t sexually assault my boyfriend. It’s a fair trade-off. Even if we have agreed to it beforehand, I still don’t jump in immediately. I cuddle up next to him and run my hands along his stomach and his hips. The first time we did this, he groggily turned to me, apologized, and asked if we could do it another time. The second time, he responded positively to my attention. (I found out later that he was fake-sleeping so I could seduce him “awake.” He’s done this before so I would kiss him awake. Silly boyfriend).

I know this has been long, but honestly, I barely even scratched the surface on how consent can be sexy. If you’re worried about it being awkward, ask yourself this: Would I rather sexually assault someone I like, or ask first if this is okay? If you’re a decent human being, the answer is easy.

P.S. This is my 100th post! At least, the 100th post I've posted to this blog. Not my 100th example of good writing, or even my 100th post written by me. But still, it's a bit exciting. :)


  1. great how-to that i def was not expecting :)congrats on 100!!!!

    1. It's not exactly a typical how-to, is it. :)

      Thank you! I didn't even realize I was approaching it, or I might have tried to do something with it. My second blogoversary will be in July, and for me, that's a bigger milestone. I'll definitely do something big and celebratory then.

      Thanks for commenting!

  2. This was fantastic. Things like this need to be said more often.

    1. Thank you! Consent is one of my passions. :)

  3. Replies
    1. Thanks! I love writing about consent. I think promoting consent and healthy attitudes about sex are one of the only true ways we can reduce sexual assault.


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