We live in a world that is hell-bent on victim-blaming, slut-shaming, and largely sex-negative perspectives as it pertains to women and non-binary folks, so instances of having sex when you only kind-of-sort-of want to, and weed or alcohol-fueled trysts are a quiet reality for many of us.
This is why it has become even more important to be able to both give and get clear consent, before engaging in sexual encounters, or touching of any kind.
And nope, neither an erection nor a wet vagina counts as consent.
And just because you’ve been given the go-ahead to exchange naked energy, doesn’t mean that you still don’t need permission before pulling out a whip or introducing a new element like handcuffs. Plus, clear and enthusiastic consent can help you approach new territory, like anal play.
Now that the heavy shit is out of the way, here’s a reminder that sex is and should be fun; making it a point to talk about consent beforehand doesn’t have to kill your vibe. Here are some ways to do it:
Make It A Part of Foreplay
Remember foreplay? It may not be the first thing our minds go to in conversations about consent and sexual pleasure; but aside from being a warmup for intercourse, foreplay is important because it can help partners feel physically comfortable and safe around each other.
And that’s just as important as giving and getting verbal consent.
Why not make consent a part of making out, talking dirty, and being your nastiest self? Consent should never feel like an awkward doctor’s visit, clinical and impersonal.
You can make the process more active, and less of a Q & A filled with questions like “May I touch you here?” Ask your partner what articles of clothing they want to be removed, or where you should put your tongue. If the response to your moves is a resounding “yes,” then, you’re probably doing something right.
Even if you’ve talked about consent with a partner or partners before, that doesn’t mean you can just whip out a dildo or kink accessories without discussing it beforehand.
If there are any sexual shenanigans you want to get into that a partner doesn’t, or if you’re unsure about whether or not they are interested, you’ll need to talk about it in advance.
Why does it matter? Because no one wants to suddenly find themselves handcuffed, rigged up, or with buzzing devices near their crotch without some kind of warning.
Just like during foreplay, getting/giving consent ahead of time can be entertaining. Try creating a “sex menu” where you let a current or potential sex partner know what you like/don’t like/are willing to try.
Rethink Your Body Language
Years of sexual shame and misinformation have caused many of us to assume that everyone likes the same thing when it comes to sex. Take porn for example–it rarely provides accurate instruction for real-life sex and not many porn-flicks center pleasure and consent.
Which is probably part of the reason why the clitoris remains elusive, and penetrative sex is still put on a pedestal.
If you are ever right in the middle of sex and whatever you’re doing seems to elicit a nonverbal response from the receiver, that means your moves ain’t working. For example, not everyone likes teeth or an overzealous tongue during oral sex.
And for many women, it can be difficult to be vocal about sex; thanks to centuries of social conditioning. So if at any time a partner’s body language suggests that they are disengaged or uncomfortable, that means stop, do not pass go.
Sex is better when your partner is perceptive and attentive to your body; both your pleasure and displeasure.
If you are proactive about consent in a creative way, you not only decrease the risk of having unwanted/trash sex, but you can go into a sexual encounter knowing that you can fully let loose and come or not come, exactly as you are.
Tiffany Lashai Curtis is a freelance writer, sex positivist, and graduate student currently pursuing a Master's in Clinical Mental Health Counseling. You can find her on Instagram and Twitter, talking about her sex life and everyone else's.