I want to take this opportunity to have a positive, healthy conversation about sex and consent.
Whether you are thinking about just having sex or being more adventurous with swinging or BDSM, consent is at its heart. However, before we get into that, I want to cover some basic health warnings.
***** IMPORTANT TRIGGER WARNING *****
This blog talks about consent and will cover consent violations. Stop reading right now if you think this will adversely affect you. At the bottom of this blog are some U.K. and national sources of help - if you are unsure where to seek help, reach out to me, and I will try my best to direct you.
I hear, read and see stories and images covering consent violations and sexual assaults all the time. Each time I come across yet another instance it makes me feel sad and concerned. Behind each of these stories is a real person. Each has been emotionally and even physically affected by what has happened. I know first-hand that it could potentially take them a lifetime to come to terms with the trauma that has occurred.
With this in mind, I have come up with a simple guide for consent, whether that is regarding any sexual activity, swinging or BDSM. I want people to understand how simple it is to understand consent and get it right. I hope it will also educate people on how to avoid mistakes and avoid violating someone's consent. This guide contains lighthearted examples, so please refer to the health warning above if you think that these will potentially negatively affect you.
Here is my top guide for understanding and gaining consent:
1. Gain enthusiastic consent in advance and before any sexual activity or BDSM takes place.
Sharon: "Would you like to fuck me?"
Fred: "Damn fucking right, I would. I want to fuck you where, when and how I want to. I have waited for this moment all of my life. I even prayed to God and wrote a letter to Santa to ensure everyone knew I wanted to fuck you. Just in case they speak to each other and all."
Now THAT is enthusiastic consent.
2. You can not gain consent if someone is undecided. A person might say, "no, not right now, please". Yet, they may decide to say "hell yes" shortly after. Until you get the "hell yes", you DO NOT have consent.
Fred: "Would you like to get to know me? Y'know in the biblical sense."
Sharon: "I don't know if I want to read the Bible with you. I mean, we only met ten minutes ago and I already read the Bible earlier and I'm not sure I want to re-read it again so soon".
Whatever the scenario, being unsure or indecisive is not enthusiastic consent.
Warning: Continually asking for sex or anything else after being told "maybe" and then receiving a reluctant "well okay then" after the 15th time of questioning is not consent. Keep reading for this to be explained further.
3. Understand that people can give conditional consent for different activities. They can provide enthusiastic consent for one type of sexual activity, which does not imply or give consent for anything else.
Sharon: "Sure, I can blow you behind the bike sheds, but that's all you're getting."
Sharon is only consenting to give you a blow job and for you to put your cock in her mouth. She disagrees with you to grope her boobs or try any other type of penetrative or non-penetrative sexual activity with her.
4. Understand that people can give conditional consent around birth control. This means that providing enthusiastic consent for sexual activity with a condom or other contraception is ONLY giving consent for sexual activity with the agreed form of contraception. Permission is NOT granted for sex without contraception or the removal of said contraception (i.e. removal of a condom during sex; see below).
Sharon: "You can take me home and rail me as long as you wear a condom."
To do this, you are going to need a condom. Either find one, buy one, steal one or even ask Sharon for one. However, until you produce a condom and have it on your dick, you do not have consent to fuck Sharon.
IMPORTANT - It also means that you can not try and trick Sharon by starting off wearing a condom and then subtly removing or damaging it. You do not have consent for unprotected sex. Now under U.K. law, this is recognised as rape. Stealthing, as it is known, during sex means you invalidated the earlier consent to having sex and once you remove the condom you are having sex without consent.
5. Understand that if someone gave you enthusiastic consent last week or last night, or even five minutes ago, this does not provide you with ongoing consent in the future.
Fred takes Sharon home. They knock boots and enjoy wild, primary sex. She thanks Fred for making her cum and Fred leaves happy and smiling. Sharon has not given consent to have sex with Fred ever again. He can't just pop around thinking his consent window has been extended because he made her cum… enthusiastic consent needs to be gained each and every time.
6. Understand that people can not give their enthusiastic consent whilst they are asleep or unconscious.
Sharon is asleep. She cannot give consent because she cannot communicate. She cannot hear what is being asked (she is sleeping). She cannot reply and agree (she is asleep). She cannot even give a scuba diver's "a-ok" sign (she is sleeping).
It's simple - sleeping people can not give their consent.
7. People can not give consent whilst drunk or under the influence of drugs.
Sharon is drunk. She drinks a lot, so-fucking-what, girls are allowed to drink and get drunk. Fred decides to give her more to drink, making her more vulnerable, which in his mind makes her more likely to consent to have sex with him because it has lowered her inhibitions.
THIS IS NOT GAINING ENTHUSIASTIC CONSENT. Fred cannot gain consent by propositioning Sharon when she is so drunk she can barely walk, talk, or communicate. The law in the U.K. recognises that Sharon (or anyone) cannot consent when under the influence of excessive drink or drugs.
N.B. - I appreciate that some BDSM dynamics include consensual non-consent (C.N.C.) scenes that may pre-negotiate consent for sexual activity whilst a partner is sleeping, drunk or under the influence of drugs. However it is widely accepted as bad practice to carry out any form of BDSM activity whilst one person is under the influence of alcohol or other substances. If you choose to do so it is important that you are familiar with your local laws. Here in the U.K., even if you gain consent in advance, the fact you have sex while your partner cannot give their full enthusiastic consent could expose you to criminal liability. The law in this area is clear, so take care and complete your risk assessment (risk assessed consensual kink (RACK)) in advance.
8. People may have given you consent a little while ago but since then they have become too drunk or are now under the influence of drugs. This means their prior consent is automatically now invalid.
Sharon and Fred are having a great time. Sharon asks Fred if he could raise the flag pole to allow her to put her flag up. However, Sharon also wants to get more drunk so that she can sing the national anthem. Unfortunately, Sharon passes out. Therefore, she can no longer consent and cannot fly her flags until she is entirely sober and has provided further consent.
IMPORTANT - Just because someone has woken up the following day and only appears a little bit hungover does not mean they can give consent. The amount of alcohol/drugs in their system may still tell they are past the point of providing full and enthusiastic consent. Try and remember this: if you’re not sober enough to drive, you’re not sober enough to consent and vice versa.
9. Understand that people may have given you their full and enthusiastic consent as you started having sex, but be aware that they can withdraw their consent because and change their mind at any time.
Sharon and Fred have decided to fuck like rabbits, engage in a bit of Peter Rabbit role-play and are determined to increase the worlds rabbit population. Sharon suddenly decides to say "stop" as she has decided the world has enough rabbits and wants to go and do something else instead. This means that Sharon has withdrawn her consent, and Fred needs to stop producing rabbits immediately. This does not mean he can continue or "finish off", as he no longer has Sharon's enthusiastic consent.
IMPORTANT - Like scenario two, continually asking to restart after initially stopping having sex, particularly if you whine and make your partner "give in" to continuing the activity, does not classify as gaining enthusiastic consent. This is explained further in the next and final point.
10. Consent must always be given by someone’s own free will and without coercion.
Fred: Fuck me, please, Sharon. If you don't, I will send the naked photos I have of you to your boss.
This is BLACKMAIL and invalidates any consent previously given due to coercive behaviour.
Sharon believes that due to Fred's previous threats and behaviour, something terrible may happen to her or her family or that he may injure her if she does not agree to have sex with him. Therefore she feels she has no other choice but to say yes.
In this situation, consent has not been freely given.
Fred says no to Sharon about having sex with her. However, Sharon continually asks him questions like "why not", "you know you want to", or keeps asking to "please fuck me" or any other endless list of micro-aggressions and general harassment.
Fred feels that it is easier to have sex with Sharon than deal with her whining/ complaining.
Fred has not given enthusiastic consent.
Having gotten to the bottom of this list, I hope that you feel either more empowered about giving your consent and how you have the right to decline giving consent or feel better informed on how to ask for consent and respond in different scenarios.
If you have ever been affected by a consent violation or sexual assault, in any scenario, please be aware that you are not alone and I am sorry that you have experienced this. My D.M.'s are always open. However, be mindful that I am not (YET) a trained therapist and can only offer a supportive ear and friendly advice. Please put CONSENT as the title so that I can respond to you promptly as my mailbox gets full very quickly and I want to ensure I respond to you.
If you feel that you need professional support.
IN AN EMERGENCY, PLEASE DIAL 999 (U.K.) OR 911 (U.S.A.)
Support for individuals living in the U.K.:
Victim’s Support: 08 08 16 89 111
Rape Crisis England and Wales: 0808 802 9999
National Male Survivor Helpline (for those who identify as male): 0808 800 5005
Support for individuals living elsewhere in the world:
The U.S.A. - National Sexual Assault Hotline: 800.656.4673 (This helpline will be directed you to support services in your local area)
It would be greatly appreciated if anyone else could provide helplines from the country they live in below.
Stay safe, stay kinky and stay consensual.