An Open Letter To Guys About Consent [Sexy Time]

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Dear guys,

I’d like to preface this by acknowledging that it’s not completely your fault your collective perspective on sex kind of sucks. I mean, you’re just living in the world that your forefathers have created for you. A world that privileges your gender over all others. A world where your intelligence, capabilities and contributions to said world are overvalued. A world where women have historically been perceived as inferior, weak, and only useful for procreation and as a vehicle for your orgasm. Moreover, society expects you to be hypersexual. You’re not supposed to be able to control your sexual urges. I get it. That’s a lot of f*ckery to challenge, especially since it has been instilled in you for years and years. Luckily, some of you do unravel all of that grossness, and evolve into delightful, critically thinking men who don’t absorb everything that’s thrown at them, and who see women as complex and more than competent human beings who are not merely on this earth for your carnal pleasures. You get that women like orgasms too and, more importantly, you respect a woman’s right to say no to your advances, and you’re offended by the notion that you can’t control your sexual impulses.

Congratulations. You’re a semi-decent human being.

However, some among you aren’t quite so actualized. You think that you’re entitled to women’s bodies. Sometimes that means whining about “friend zoning” (sorry, being nice to a woman doesn’t mean she has to sleep with you in return). Sometimes, this entitlement manifests itself in far more sinister ways like performing sex acts on a woman who has either explicitly said no to you, or is incapable of granting you consent (ie, she’s sleeping or blacked out, or recklessly intoxicated). At best, your entitlement is obnoxious. At worst¬† it’s criminal, depraved, and utterly intolerable.

Somewhere in the middle lies that grey area where you kind of noticed that she wasn’t that into it, but you kept pressuring her and needling her into doing things. This is the trap some of you semi-decent guys fall into. There’s this insidious idea of “blanket consent” that has permeated the way a lot of people think about consent. Like because someone is cool with making out, that means that they’re down for oral, or because oral is on the table, then penetration is too. That assumption doesn’t take into account boundaries, or a shift in comfort level. It doesn’t promote the idea of steady, constant communication while you’re hooking up. It doesn’t encourage you to read the signs – to notice that she looks nervous, or sounds hesitant, or in general doesn’t seem at all into it.¬† So instead of subscribing to the idea that a woman loses the right to say no to you after a certain point, you embrace the idea of enthusiastic consent.

Yes, enthusiastic consent exists and it’s really hot. Only proceeding to have sex with someone who actually seems to be enjoying themselves? Not really controversial, right? Not at all. Think beyond the idea that “no means no” or “she would’ve said no if she didn’t want it.” In an ideal world, she would feel totally okay speaking up, but we live in a messy, complicated world where sometimes people suck at communicating, especially in stressful situations. So when you’re hooking up with someone, do your best to create a warm, open atmosphere. Ask questions. Don’t nag her when she appears reluctant to do something. Treat women like human beings, not blowup dolls.

Xoxo,

Someone who’s just trying to help you be a better you.

[Lead image via Yuri Arcurs/Shutterstock]

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