I’ve blogged about the concept of Enthusiastic Consent before, here and other places, and I have got to say: I do not get how this offends people. I mean, it’s merely saying, “Only have sex with people who really want to have sex with you.”
But offended they are, and I think I’ve sussed out a little of the why.
There is an element out there who think that if they can’t “convince” women to have sex with them, that they will never have sex again.
Now, for many of these guys, this is patently ridiculous. I know a couple who could have lots of Enthusiastically Consented to sex if they’d pull their heads out, for a start.
One of the excuses often given is that it’s too difficult to talk about sex, that many people don’t have the vocabulary, etc… Ok, I don’t know about you, but when I’m enthusiastically consenting to sex with anyone very few words are actually involved. And most of those are of the “Oh, right there!” variety. You don’t need to compose a doctoral thesis on the elements of sexual pleasure to get and have enthusiastic consent.
Lets look at a few examples. I feel like I want to do a “Goofus and Gallant” cartoon for this, like from Highlights magazine.
Kissing. When she’s kissing you, is her mouth as open as yours, welcoming your lips and tongue (I know, I read way too many romance novels)? Is her hand around the back of your neck or in your hair, pulling you closer? That sounds pretty enthusiastic.
Or are her lips and or teeth closed? Does she keep her hands to herself, or interposed between the two of you? Not so enthusiastic.
Groping. Is she groping you back? Helping you by unfastening or shifting articles of clothing to give you better groping access?
Or, when you put her hand on your genitals, does she immediately pull it away again once you release it? Does she keep pulling her clothing closed or re-buttoning or zipping once you’ve disarranged it? If you try to reach a more reclined position, does she at the first chance sit upright again?
Does she keep coming up with excuses for why this might not be a good idea?
“But she never SAID no!”
Go read this. Harriet said it first, and far more eloquently than I: If you teach women their whole lives to defer to men, and not enforce boundaries, and always be nice and kind and polite and never say ‘No,’ then how can you suddenly expect them to do the opposite of all these things in one particular situation.
There are two other schools of thought that also play into this aversion to Enthusiastic Consent. One of them is the school of thought, still prevalent to this day, that women don’t like sex. They just don’t, and will attempt to avoid it until… And here’s where the other school of thought comes in… the right man with his golden cock shows them the true glory of sex.
These ideas that women don’t like sex and/or must be shown how to like sex, frequently against their wishes, contribute to the idea that men can, and should, keep pushing regardless of the signals a woman is sending through her body language, and frequently even after she says, “No!” “Your lips say no, but your eyes/body/whatever say yes!” is a trope that needs to die the fiery death of a thousand suns.
And, say it with me, kids, it’s fucking bullshit.
Now, all that said, even if she is enthusiastically and joyously participating, and then says, “No,” to sex. If you don’t honor that, “No,” you’re committing rape. Plain and simple. Both partners have every right to revoke consent at any time, including once you’ve actually started having penile-vaginal or -oral or -anal intercourse. However, if you have an enthusiastic partner, this is far less likely to happen than with one you’ve bullied, wheedled, coerced or worn down.