Enthusiastic Consent

grit

Not Active
For a non-western person who lives in the western now, for me it is do you have a consent? Not did I give one as a woman? or ideally both.
In my own home country (let us not talk about it again), most women are raped by their husbands who clearly know they do not have a consent and do not care. In fact very rare to get raped by a stranger.

I probably said this before somewhere along this topic, but a man should really know he is allowed or is given a consent to "penetrate". This may be the base for when both are drunk who did what? but I could be wrong.

The way I look at it now from the western perspective is this: a woman is often responsible for birth control cause well it is obvious the cost is too high for her. By the same token, men need to become more responsible knowing if they have a consent cause again the cost of being accused for rape (conviction or not) is too high.

however, I know in our current culture, often we put all responsibility on the women...so that is unfortunate.

Ps. I really really love the idea of abstract sex talk before anything happens so everybody knows in abstract what we are into (as @joeylittle ) notes above. But again that is the funny part, people want to f*ck not talk!
 

whiteraven

MyPTSD Pro
The other is what I've found in the bdsm community and am more familiar with that. And that's about making sure consent is discussed, given freely and with desire and continued to be given freely.
This is what I loved about being in the BDSM community. My Dom and I talked about everything - including what we would and would not do in the bedroom - and how we would signal to the other when something was too much or just generally didn't feel right. That didn't make anything less spontaneous at all. Even with the power dynamic, he always made sure I was ok with sex (or whatever), but there wasn't necessarily an explicit "yes, I consent to xyz."
It's not assumed that the power holder is a white male.
True. And on the topic of consent, for us it didn't matter. I was always treated equally when discussing what I would and wouldn't do. For me, this kind of beforehand discussion made everything feel a LOT safer.

I was reading about enthusiastic consent because I really had never heard the term before, and it seems to indicated a "yes" as opposed to absence of "no."

To me enthusiastic consent requires all parties involved to be sober and happy (granted angry sex can be great), have discussions prior to intercourse about limits and wants (safewords are awesome here even without it being bdsm), and everyone is of age and reasonably sane.
I really struggle with the idea that a person can't be under the influence and consent to sex. I think there are degrees of "under the influence" and that some people can consent some of the time when they are drinking or on drugs. Unpopular opinion, I know, but...*shrug*.... and no, I don't ever drink or do drugs. And happy? Hm...maybe agreeable to have sex, but not happy in the feeling-good sense. If that were the case, many, many people would not be sexually active. LOL

Interesting discussion!
 

scout86

MyPTSD Pro
This is an interesting and worthwhile topic. And it stirs up so much stuff for me I'm probably not going to do a very good job of saying what I'm thinking. (I might not even KNOW exactly what I'm thinking just yet. LOL)

First, I've got to say that I've always appreciated what @Friday has to say on this subject. For all the stuff that I haven't figured out yet, I kind of go through life looking for people who seem to have a good grasp on what looks like "normal" to me and she's one of my go to people on a couple of topics, including this one.

The reason I do that is that I know full well the I don't have much of an idea what "normal" is when it comes to sex. My first experiences were in childhood. They weren't good, they weren't fun, they didn't include real consent...... Besides that, I didn't get much of an idea, growing up, that I had an real value or was actually wanted. But I was apparently "wanted" for sex, at least by somebody. That totally messes with your concepts of pretty much everything surrounding this topic. And I think it's worth noting that a lot of us involved in this conversation have some variation of sexual experiences that has messed with our perceptions of the topic. Personally, every time I get into a sexual situation, there's some part of my brain that's wondering if I'm just being used and if THIS is the only reason the other party has any interest in me..... That's distracting AND confusing.

Now, once upon a time, I was involved with a guy where "enthusiastic consent" was actually an option. But he was an unusual person. HE figured out I had PTSD long before most people were aware it didn't have to be war related. HE actually figured out why too. (I eventually asked him how he managed that. He said it was obvious. I hope it wasn't THAT obvious. LOL) Anyway, we got to be close friends and then the relationship moved beyond that. And it was great. But what made it possible was that he cared more about me than he did himself. It still amazes me but I don't think he EVER lost sight of what might be going on with me and he ALWAYS gave me the feeling that what I was feeling was more important to him than whatever he wanted. Actually, I guess it seemed that what he wanted most was for things to be good for ME.

Now, just to show how messed up my brain is. He's been dead a long time. And every now and then, it still crosses my mind that maybe he didn't REALLY care about me. Maybe it was all a trick and he was just way better at it than anyone else I've ever met. I don't really think that's true. I don't WANT to think it's true. But I still live with the thought.

Since then, I've had sex with other people. No one who actually got what goes on in my head though. I'm sure they thought they had "consent", and I might have even been enthusiastic, in the moment. I would never say they DIDN'T have consent. And yet.... the whole "that's the only reason anyone will ever want me" thing is there, very much front and center, so in some ways it's a very conflicted form of consent. It's something that makes me reluctant to venture into "relationship" territory again. I understand it well enough now to see that it's a problem, but I'm not at all sure it's a problem that's fixable. And I seriously doubt there's any chance of crossing paths with someone who actually gets it again. I think I was incredibly lucky to have done that even once.

Anyway, I'd venture to guess there are a fair number of people on this site who, because of their own histories, have more challenges with this topic than "normal" people do and maybe we should take that into account in this discussion too?
 

Chris-duck

MyPTSD Pro
I think it's worthwhile remembering that people's view on consent can change I guess. N the internet lasts forever. It's been around for years now. It's worthwhile remembering for anyone posting that maybe, 20 years from now, the internet might still exist and give a different narrative to the one you're semi saying you have right now 🤷🏻‍♀️
 

Mee

MyPTSD Pro
G
I think it's worthwhile remembering that people's view on consent can change I guess. N the internet lasts forever. It's been around for years now. It's worthwhile remembering for anyone posting that maybe, 20 years from now, the internet might still exist and give a different narrative to the one you're semi saying you have right now 🤷🏻‍♀️
mine has certainly - within five years.
 

Mee

MyPTSD Pro
Except A heard B say a few days ago, "sure why not?", and B was confident, and open, and genuine. No doubt being expressed.
yeah - that’s also important and why consent can’t be given in advance. As a result of my same sex rape I learnt that waking someone up with a sex act is one of the most serious crimes - yet previously I was totally fine with that witching the confines of a loving ongoing relationship. While Dh still would like me to wake him up that way and feels he can give consent in advance I feel that it’s not ok . If it’s not ok by law to protect people it’s not ok for us. It’s a crime for a reason and the reason is it is coercing and it is not obtaining consent st that time.


Hearing what you think is consent ‘a few days ago’ is not really consent ( unless perhaps a time and date was agreed. Even then i’d probably feel a - ‘ you good to go’ perhaps more poetically phrased , is appropriate to confirm consent rather than ‘assent’. Also communication through our sex. Which doesn’t have to be’ excuse me sir/ madam , do you still give consent to these proceedings?) but ‘ is this good?’ ‘Would you like me to..? ‘ what do you want baby?’ ‘How do you like it, ? ‘ or thematically / scene framed check ins.
 

Muttly

MyPTSD Pro
Sigh. Getting a little frustrated by the conversation. And that's probably because I'm triggered.

As far as talking about consent in advance goes I feel like people are focusing on the idea you do that and you think it's done. In my book, if that's what you do, then you're not doing it right. And I highly doubt that most people who advocate for a conversation in advance are thinking that. And yes, again I have a bdsm lens but I think it can also be useful for a PTSD lens. Like coming up behind me and grabbing my ass is mostly going to be triggering. If you're on top of me, you are going to have to check in because I freeze like that. Talking about that before hand is beneficial. Talking about things we like before can certainly be beneficial. I mean guessing and stuff can be find but if you know that you're partner really likes it when someone does X, great now I know a way to please my partner. But then there's what happens in the moment. Which is continuing to communicate and check in.
 

Sideways

Moderator
I really like the Enthusiastic Consent approach. It's nice and simple, and conveys the essence of what I think is important abut what needs to be present throughout any sexual encounter.

But, it's not a point in time, or a tick box "now you can proceed without further responsibility" etc.

There are so many factors at play.

Consent can be withdrawn. Sex becomes something one party suddenly isn't enjoying, for a myriad reasons (eg. Sudden pelvic pain). Responsible sex, to me, means paying attention to whether your partner is into it before and throughout.

It also means sometimes making a call on their behalf, no matter how enthusiastic the other person may be. Eg, No 13 year old student, I'm not going to have sex with you, irrespective of your enthusiasm. No mate, you're too drunk/we don't know each other well enough/you're really unwell/etc etc etc.

It also means interpreting nuance - are they nervous but keen? Or nervous and trying to keep me happy?

If we exercise responsibility for how our partner is feeling, what they're thinking, and all the nuances of interpersonal communication and relationships...that would mean a lot of sex that we would otherwise have simply wouldn't occur.

But, aiming for a gold standard, and recognising sometimes we fall flat, we screw up, we make mistakes? That's okay.

The consequences of sex being a bad experience for one of the participants are huge. Being a responsible adult, I think, means keeping that in mind, and our partner's wants/free will/best interests in mind, before and throughout any sexual encounter.

Impossibly high standard? Probably sounds like it to most of us. But genuinely caring for your partner, as an ongoing thing, is a big ask, that we humans frequently fail on miserably.

But it's something that we aim for anyway. Because hurting people can have serious consequences. Hurting someone sexually can have major consequences.

Having sex with someone isn't a right. And sex going bad for the other person can really f*ck them up. So yeah, enthusiasm before, and throughout, and then some. That's, I think, what responsible sex would look like to me.
 

joeylittle

Administrator
But, it's not a point in time, or a tick box "now you can proceed without further responsibility" etc.
Exactly. It's not unusual for anything that pushes a "here's how to do it, this is The Answer" vibe is inadvertently opening the door to other kinds of assumptions (like the one you're mentioning).

But really? I do sincerely. wish that discussions about the freedom - responsibility, yes, but also freedom, and power - of the individual to say how they're feeling, as they are feeling it, without anxiety or self-doubt...I wish that those discussions were as elevated, prominent, visible in the public sphere as the 'enthusiastic consent' discussions are.

I think for me it's rooted in the concept of receiving, as opposed to obtaining. Giving, as opposed to getting. "Obtain consent" means, you need to get something from someone else. Not too far off from take something from someone else.

Obviously, obtaining consent is not inherently bad, not in the least.

But it's counterpart is something like "Tell your experience", which (to me) means giving something to someone else AND to yourself. It's the aspect of the consent discussion (in general) that is often skipped over entirely, while a lot of energy gets put into advocating for the "get consent" side of things.

They're both important. They work together, and each is a safety-net for the other. If one approach breaks down? The other can still kick in and save the situation - that way, everyone can keep what they want and stop what they don't want.
As far as talking about consent in advance goes I feel like people are focusing on the idea you do that and you think it's done. In my book, if that's what you do, then you're not doing it right. And I highly doubt that most people who advocate for a conversation in advance are thinking that.
It's just that when the message is, "have a conversation in advance", the message is incomplete. It'd be clearer if it was more along the lines of "add having a conversation in advance". You have to think about it from the perspective of someone who is utterly new to the concept of what consent really is. I spend a lot of time with 16-21 year olds, and they're often thinking step-wise: step 1, plan. step 2, do. You're 100% right, that's not what's being said...but part of the info they're getting is also what's NOT being said. I guess. I don't know if that makes sense. (not arguing with you, BTW - just unpacking (as much for myself as anyone else), why misunderstandings around consent can happen, when the notion itself seems so straightforward.)
 

Sideways

Moderator
responsibility, yes, but also freedom, and power - of the individual to say how they're feeling, as they are feeling it, without anxiety or self-doubt
Thoughts in motion: on the one hand, sex involving responsibility to your partner, and the other, empowering people with the confidence and skills to communicate how they're feeling, and what they want...?
 
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