A Modest Proposal: The Thorny Issue of Sexual Consent

There's been a lot of discussion about what constitutes "consent" in terms of sexual encounters. Personally, I'm a strong proponent of just asking my sexual partner (even after we've been together for years) the simple question: "Do you want to have sex with me?"

Figuring out what to do after asking this question is a very easy If/Then statement:

IF Answer = "Yes", THEN *sex ensues*, ELSE *sex does not ensue*.

Now, when I've proposed this solution to rape-apologists some people, they have challenged my programming sequence with a very thorny "ElseIF" equation: "But what if she changes her mind in the middle of it and then accuses me of rape?" -- because according to these rape apologists people, this apparently happens all the time -- just every time you turn around, I guess (on some planet).

These rape apologists individuals also say that getting clear consent before gettin'-it-on is a "mood-killer", and one of them stated "unless a woman is chanting "Yes' over and over for hours without interruption . . . . any woman can then claim withdrawal of consent."

And that's when it hit me -- my fool-proof solution to the thorny issue of "consent":

1) Get a clear "yes" from your partner before engaging in sex AND 2) BECOME A BETTER LOVER

See, I've never really thought of it as a problem if my lover was chanting (or screaming) YES! YES! YES! "over and over for hours without interruption" during sex. ("Don't Stop!" and "Keep doing whatever it is you're doing!" also do not disturb me in the slightest.)

In fact, this situation has been so common for me that I had simply assumed that it was par for the course.

You may be wondering: "But PortlyDyke -- How do I become a better lover?"

So here are PortlyDyke's Quick Tips for Better Consensual Sex:

1. ALWAYS get consent from the other person(s) involved before engaging in sex. Awkward as it may sound, I have found that most people who want to have sex with me actually enjoy being asked. (I still ask my partner of many years, and y'know what? -- it tickles her pink! -- no pun intended) Yes, this means that you may have to deal with the inconvenient fact that your prospective partner is too drunk/unconscious to either comprehend your question or answer you -- but in that case --DO NOT PROCEED. See? Isn't that simple?

2. If, at any time during the sexual engagement, your partner says "Stop", "No", "Don't" -- then stop, no, DON'T! If your partner resists you physically -- stop, no, don't. Immediately. DO NOT PROCEED. (There are some exceptions to this rule if you are engaging in consensual S/M, but if you're playing those games without talking it over first and employing "safe words", you deserve whatever fallout you get, AFAIC.)

3. Now here's where the "better lover" part comes in -- If, at any time, you perceive that your partner looks uncomfortable, apathetic, disinterested/disengaged about what's going on, stop and ask them questions like: "Are you enjoying this? Is there something else you want?", etc.. Then listen to their responses and take creative, consensual action on what you hear. I suppose that having apathetic, listless sex may be a turn-on for some people, but if you want to hear that resounding and enthusiastic consent (YES! YES! YES! over and over for hours without interruption), then continuing without enthusiastic response maybe isn't such a great strategy in terms of building your sexual mojo. Jus' sayin'.

(On a totally serious note -- if you are having sex with a stranger, and both of you aren't sober or conscious enough to at least have a coherent talk about STDs and birth control before you make the beast with two backs or commence with the muff-diving/sword-swallowing -- maybe you should consider exchanging phone numbers, going home alone, and having a nap. Seriously.)

Posted byPortlyDyke at 3:17 PM  


Steve said... October 18, 2007 at 6:09 PM  

We should make a poster of this post and sell it in every college bookstore in America (and maybe the restrooms in the Minneapolis Airport)

Portly once again I am in awe

Great post

Anonymous said... October 18, 2007 at 8:03 PM  

Well said, Gurrrl!

I happen to believe that if I'm not hearing hours of "YES, YES, OH YEEESSSS" I'm not doing my job, and being a man of some personal pride and self-respect, I QUIT.

Another approach which works for me is this: I never have sex...

I make love. There's a huge and unmistakable difference.

Thanks for this spot-on post, Woman!

Gender Blank said... October 19, 2007 at 12:46 PM  

I think I'm gonna post this in my residence hall. Thanks!

NameChanged said... October 21, 2007 at 9:52 AM  

So logical, yet so necessary. Thanks PortlyDyke.

Matthew Miller said... April 24, 2008 at 6:12 AM  

You just became one of my heroes.

I have to wonder what these guys are doing that women are rescinding consent mid coitus. Did the "consent" consist of getting them to nod while too drunk to speak? Did they use the flawed "Silence implies consent" claim?

I'd be nice if these guys are just lousy in bed and the withdrawal of consent consists of a bored "Well, that's enough of that now."

Anonymous said... April 24, 2008 at 10:00 AM  

This is SO AWESOME. I followed a link here from http://vito-excalibur.livejournal.com, and this is honestly the best answer to that "argument" I've ever seen. Thank you! You rock!

Anonymous said... April 27, 2008 at 2:49 PM  

Same as gaudior. You rock! This was awesome, funny, and a really good answer!

Anonymous said... December 11, 2008 at 2:44 AM  
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Matthew Miller said... December 11, 2008 at 6:26 AM  

Ronald Parker, you're a spammer, and your spam isn't even really relevant to the post. It's about sexual consent, NOT erectile dysfunction.

Selling Viagra without a prescription is illegal. Is the "Viagra" you sell fake or stolen?

BioGal said... July 12, 2010 at 8:20 AM  

This is a great post (sorry to have arrived to the party so late - 2010!). @Matthew "I have to wonder what these guys are doing that women are rescinding consent mid coitus" - it might be that a partner discovers that the other hasn't been STD tested, or that contraception isn't being used, or that they are already in a relationship (in which the other partner thinks they are mutually monogamous), or someone realises they are late for an appointment, that someone has started to open the door, etc. There are thousands of reasons for wanting sexual contact to stop, including that 'these guys are just lousy in bed and the withdrawal of consent consists of a bored "Well, that's enough of that now."' I agree with the point you're making and the danger in presenting successful sex and sexual prowess as completed/continued sexual acts. If the idea that you are stopping an act due to a partner's lack of skill prevails, it might enrage the one asked to stop, or prevent the partner from making their desist wishes known for fear of retribution for the assumed 'diss'. Better would be to promote the idea that successful sex is any contact from which all participants receive joy - from a quick cuddle to a full-blown (pardon the expression) marathon of romping. Orgasm for either partner is a bonus not a requirement. This mentality would help people enjoy a healthier sex life on all counts. This would also allow room in the discourse of ‘pillow talk’ to express that one wishes an act to stop when things become uncomfortable emotionally or physically, or when some extraneous influence (door opening, phone ringing) happens. If we concentrate too much on ‘the sex stopped because it was not getting sufficiently arousing for a partner’ we close off discourse about how/when to stop sexual contact for other reasons. Silencing those voices leaves little room in the dialogue between ‘the sex stopped because it was bad’ and ‘the sex didn’t stop and was thus rape’. Consent and ‘grey rape’ conversations therefore become narrowed, creating polarised opinions where there would have been space for many voices.

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