Enthusiastic Consent on a Personal Level
There’s an article making the rounds right now about how one sex party host has built a culture of consent at their party through a series of rules and agreements. And I’m very sorry to say it’s an article I’m not a huge fan of. Sorry because as much as I appreciate the conversation and think clear rules of active consent are useful for sex parties, I don’t think we can simply apply those rules to a more daily experience of sex and be done with it. And no, 60 person orgies are not a daily experience for sex for your average person.
Here’s my biggest beef:
Consent is binary. You have enthusiastic consent or you do not have consent.
While I think enthusiastic, clear, (and I would add verbal) consent is important in scenario’s of high sexuality (like orgies, weekend cons, kink spaces, etc) I’m not sure this conversation is overall helpful to how most people struggle with consent in their daily lives or wrestle with self-coercion in their person sexuality.
So I’ve been complaining, a bit, on twitter.
Real life isn’t sex parties. Relatioships aren’t sex parties. Struggling w/personal sexuality isn’t sex parties. Life’s complex. Embrace it.
— Heather (@MissHC) August 15, 2016
But I want to be clear that I don’t think enthusiastic consent is useless; I’m just unconvinced that it’s the most useful measure of consent, especially when it comes to real-world relationships. The kind most of us are having. Outside of sex-focused spaces.
Here’s a great way to use enthaustic consent in a real world way: If I could be having any type of sex with any type of person, what sex would be AMAZING right now?
Pondering this question when you’re not in the middle of a sexual scenario helps to you to start to recognize sex that you’re probably going to be interested in, or gives you a scenario to play out next time you want to want sex with your lover, but aren’t just there yet.
Predicting sex on desire can be a great measure of consensuality, but it’s not the only measure and not being super jazzed to have sex right now doesn’t mean that sex should be inaccessible. It just means that we need to be upfront and honest about where we’re at and how we want to navigate what consent looks like (and by that I mean, how to be sure you’ve got consent – let me be super clear that we’re talking present plus – when consent doesn’t match your understanding of enthaustic.).