I don’t know about you, but when I ask someone to kiss me, fuck me, play with me, tease me, beat me, fuck me, torture me or…hmmm, did I say ‘fuck me’ yet? When I pose any of these questions, I don’t want to hear:
I want full-throttle, enthusiastic consent! I want to hear them say:
“Oh god, yes!” OR “Fuck yeah!” OR “I can’t wait!” OR “When? Now? Please say now?”
I don’t want wishy-washy, non-committal bullshit! I want open-hearted, over-excited, panty-wetting consent! Anything else is just unacceptable for me.
But consent is a touchy topic and a tricky concept for many. Consent is, “permission for something to happen or an agreement to do something.” Most people view consent in the black and white scenario of boy asks for sex, girl says no. Rape is the breach of that consent. However, consent is a many nuanced thing, particularly within the BDSM community.
Consent is complicated. If you haven’t taken the time to consider it, you should! It is something that we should all be well-versed in. To be honest, I am not sure that everyone knows the critical points where consent is being violated. Aside from rape, there are 3 major types of consent violation that are frequent and just as scary as rape, but talked about much less: being under the influence, mid-scene negotiations, and coercion.
According to most North American laws, sex that occurs while one party is under the influence of alcohol or drugs, is considered non-consensual and against the law. This is pretty straight forward and easy to live by. In our community, we add another factor to this tenet: top space and sub space. If either party has hit this physiological and mental state, introducing new things into the play is most definitely non-consensual. In these situations, one or both parties are in an impaired state and unable to consent to new activities. This is supremely important to understand in our community and one of the driving factors that influence responsible tops and bottoms to engage in full, inclusive negotiations before playing together. When I say inclusive negotiations, I mean talking intensely about what you are okay with/want to happen during that play session, and sticking to that list of activities. What happens more often than not is exclusive negotiations which end up in scenarios like this:
Bottom says, “I am not into scat, children, animals or tickling.” Top responds, “Okay, cool!” The result of this play session is that the Top is likely to do something the Bottom is not okay with during the scene, but which was never mentioned during negotiations, and a consent violation occurs for the bottom, while the top feels they did just fine.
Honestly, it is a mess every time. It never ends well, because one partner feels their trust in the other failing. With inclusive negotiations, this accident/mistake cannot happen – it definitively reduces the chances of accidental consent violations.
Mid-scene negotiations are somewhat similar to this. Because top space and sub space land the top and bottom in non-consensual grey areas, it is best to steer clear of renegotiating while playing. If you have done pre-scene inclusive negotiations, you should have a yummy list of things that can be done during your scene. The scene might have made you feel more sexual than you thought it would, or you just really want to stick some needles in while playing – but you did not talk about it beforehand, so you need to put these things on your “to discuss during next negotiations” list and refrain from trying to get your bottom or top to agree to them mid-scene. Additions to scenes that may feel amazing in the moment are likely to plague both parties the next day. Regret, confusion, violation, guilt and hardcore drop are the results of these activities. This is harmful, and I think we can all agree that harm is not what we are aiming for when we engage in our beautiful and fantastical scenes. So what is the moral of the story? Stick to what you agreed on when you were in a sound mental state! You have a whole life to explore those other yummy things that popped into your head while playing, and waiting until your next scene to build upon what you’ve just experience isn’t a bad thing! It allows you to enjoy how you feel right then, and still have something to look forward to!
The most subtle form of consent violation is coercion. To coerce is “to compel by force, intimidation, or authority, especially without regard for individual desire or volition.” At play parties I have heard others responding to the question, “Are you playing tonight?” with answers like this:
“Sir/Miss want to, yes.” OR “I am not really into it, but I don’t want to disappoint my sub.” OR “My partner says we have to.”
Do any of these responses sound like enthusiastic consent to you? They sure don’t to me! In these scenarios I see people not wanting to disappoint their partners and agreeing to play that perhaps they are less than enthusiastic about. When we are aware of our partner’s unenthusiastic responses, but push for the play anyway, we are employing coercion. It is tantamount to saying, “All of the other kids are doing it!” or “You wanted it last time so I expect it this time!” It is important to remember that our bodies are our own and nothing should be done to them that we do not enthusiastically consent to. I could give you a thousand examples from either side of the slash (D/s), where coercion is a factor. Whenever this rears it’s head, it is a violation of consent, every time. Intimacy, sex, play, teasing…everything should be restricted to partners who are enthusiastically engaging in the activity.
In short, go for enthusiasm friends! Do not engage in play, sexuality, intimacy, cuddling, or anything else unless you are sure it is what both parties, or all parties want! Remember, full-throttle, open-hearted, over-excited, panty-wetting consent is the goal and anything else is a violation!