TW: sex, consent, gender binary
okay, i want to discuss a serious topic here – consent and sex. you may roll your eyes now; again? the quite overwhelming presence of the consent discussion in media can get a bit tiring, but guess what? it is, sadly, still important to discuss it over and over again.
for those who have never come across the topic – simply put, the idea is that in order to achieve that all the parties engaging in a sexual activity really enjoy it, it is necessary to make sure that all of them truly want to participate in it. in other words, when having sex with someone, make sure they really want it. (this also applies to the techniques, positions, power distribution etc.) consent is pretty much about letting someone else do something to you, and knowing that they gave you this permission too.
ideally, hearing the words ‘yes’ or ‘no’ should determine whether the sexual act will or won’t be executed. the reality, however, is quite different.
you have probably noticed – sex has a lot to do with power. in binary-gender-normative heterosexual sex, the power distribution is not always equal. according to the gender binary framework, men (= those who perform masculinity) are active and women (= those who perform femininity) are passive. men are the inserters and women are the insertees. men are on the top and women are on the bottom. a man’s pleasure is the proof of a successful sexual act, and once his orgasm has been achieved, it marks the end of the act, no matter if the female’s arousal led to the same climax or not. of course, i am fairly generalising, and (again) talking about a very gender-binary straight penis-in-vagina two-people sex, but i guess many can agree that in most of heterosexual sex, the male pleasure is the most important thing. often, even the way the woman is ‘pleased’ is in fact rather satisfactory to the man. (e.g. vigorous ass / breast grabbing which can even hurt the female but excites the male)
(of course, this also happens in non-straight sex but i will mostly focus on the ‘society-approved’ heterosexual sex in this article)
i cannot even count how many times i have had discussions about this with most of my female-identifying friends who perform hetero sex. it’s always the same – the female really does want to engage in the intercourse, therefore she says ‘yes’ to general idea of sex, but is quickly disappointed by the way the act is happening (i.e. how her own pleasure seems to be less important than her partner’s and how she is more or less an instrument, an object, a toy through which that is achieved) but does not say anything to prevent / change it since she does not want be the mood-ruiner, the sex-killer, the direct cockblock (because the society has been telling her that this is the way it’s supposed to be anyways, she was made to be passive, and therefore she has no right to demand a change if it means decreasing or even stopping the male’s pleasure), and simply endures it and feels betrayed and unsatisfied afterwards and then complains about it in the circle of her female friends who ‘know the pain’. again, to simplify this – many women do not demand men to focus on their own pleasure because they are afraid to come out as those who ‘ruin’ the man’s pleasure, and because they believe that this is simply the way it is. (think of how mainstream hetero porn is shot for example – it almost always ends with the male ejaculating, whilst the female is left off unsatisfied, right?)
well, surprise, surprise, that is not true. female pleasure is as important as male pleasure in straight sex, or should be, at last. and now, finally, i am coming back to the topic of consent and saying ‘yes’ or ‘no’.
‘yes’ to sex does not mean ‘yes’ to everything.
hearing ‘yes’ does not mean you can do anything to the person without asking if it feels right; and saying ‘yes’ does not mean you gave the person the permission to do anything to you and you cannot stop them now.
this is very important, and applies to all kinds of sex, no matter which genders or how many people participate in it.
you are totally allowed to say no to what doesn’t feel good, to ask for something that really satisfies you, to even stop the intercourse in the middle of it.
no one is allowed to force you into anything or to do something to you you do not enjoy.
it’s all about communication – respect the other participant(s) and respect yourself enough to voice your wishes, whether it is ‘yes’ or ‘no’ or ‘try something different’.
it’s all about consent, first and utmost.
huge thanks to these two articles about bad consensual sex which prompted me to finally sit down and write all my thoughts about it too.
Jessica Parker – Why Consensual Sex Can Still Be Bad
Anonymous submission to ArtParasites – The Ugly Side of Being a Single, Attractive and Available Heterosexual Woman