Sexual Consent is the bedrock of any BDSM relationship. Getting active, current consent is everyone’s responsibility and here are some myths that I commonly hear about consent.
1. S/he said ‘yes’ once, so I can do whatever I want while we’re together. – This often happens during BDSM scenes, where a yes to one activity is thought to mean that there is a yes to anything to a scene. A yes is only for the activity you agreed to with your partner. Before you add in anything else – in bed or in a scene – make sure you have gotten consent for that activity. This applies to any sexual activity.
2. If s/he says ‘no’ at first, I can convince her/him – Don’t be that person. You know that person – the person that convinces their partner to do something they really don’t want to do. You may get what you want, but the other person is going to feel awful and possibly violated. It’s alright to push boundaries, to do new things – but make sure your partner is into it. A great way to know is if they say “If you want to…” then they aren’t into it. They are giving into you. Listen for the enthusiastic yes! If you do, you will become someone they trust and you will have a partner more willing to trust you with their boundaries.
3. Only a sub needs to consent. – Wrong. It is true that subs tend to be the ones to whom we do things (you know, things), but everyone involved needs to be into it. Just like you don’t want to push your partner into something they don’t want, the same goes for the top. The top needs to feel comfortable with what they are doing, and if they aren’t, then they need to revoke their consent, as well.
4. A ‘no’ is forever. – Maybe it is, maybe it isn’t. Sometimes, a ‘no’ means ‘not right now’ or it can mean ‘never’. Good sex starts with good communication, and knowing where your partner is at mentally can be your greatest asset. If your partner says ‘no’ find out why (if you can), and if it is something that you can change to make them feel better, offer to do that. This does not mean a ‘no’ means ‘yes’ this means that a ‘no’ does not necessarily close doors. Don’t be afraid to bring something up again down the road.
5. S/he said ‘yes’, but now s/he’s saying ‘no’, that’s not fair! (Or I said ‘yes’ and I have to go through with it now). – Consent can be withdrawn at anytime. There have been plenty times when I have agreed to a scene, but had to withdrawn my consent for various reasons; the scene is not going well, I am not feeling well, I am distracted, the furniture is not stable, etc. Consent is active and ongoing, and can be as simple as asking: “Are you okay?” sometime during the scene/sex. This gives them a chance to withdraw consent or to let you know everything is still kosher.
No matter where your sexual road leads, you must, must, must do it willingly, do it with someone who is willing and most of all have fun! Never be afraid to say ‘yes’, but remember ‘no’ is always your right.
Until next time – Keep talking the taboos!
(For more on consent, we offer a class on consent called A.W.A.R.E. – use the contact form to get more information.)