Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Roadmaps of Consent

Hi, my name is Cat. I'm a consent junkie.

I am very, very dogmatic about consent. I believe that anyone has a right to withdraw consent to anything at any time and for any reason. I fucking love consent. I love safewords. I can be much more cruel, and push much harder, if I trust my partner to tell me when I go too far. I don't want to damage anyone, but I love being able to ride the edge of limits.

The process of getting consent is scary to people, or seems like a legal negotiation. It doesn't have to be either. So I'm going to talk about actual, real-life situation in which I've sought consent, or consent has been asked of me. If you'd like more ideas, or a general primer on consent in general, this Sex Talk Comic is funny, engaging, and very helpful.

Situation One: Consent in the Moment

I'm at Kitten's house. She's naked, I'm topless, and there are a few friends around in various states of undress. He ex-boyfriend and close friend, Dick, turns to me, and makes a polite gesture towards my breasts.

Dick: May I? Kitten seems very fond of them.
Me: Sure, go ahead.
Dick squeezes them a few times. I am bemused.
Dick: Very nice, thank you.
Me: My pleasure.
Kitten: That was surreal.

Situation Two: Getting Rejected

Kitten is on her bed, naked. Dick and I are both playing with her nipples. Dick leans forward, offering to kiss me.
Dick: Cat?
Me: Oh, I don't kiss men. Nothing personal.
Dick: Okay, then.
We return to teasing Kitten. Later, before he leaves, I give Dick a hug.

Friday, January 21, 2011

A Mission Statement, of Sorts

We don't talk about sex enough.

Sure, we talk about things related to sex. The clothes, the shoes, the makeup, the diets. The gym routines and late-night workout infomercials, designed to make us more attractive to the opposite sex. If you don't like the opposite sex? That's not even important. Your value as a woman is defined by how much men want to have sex with you, and how few men actually have. Your value as a man is defined by how many sexual conquests you can snare and then leave.

We watch porn. Most of it isn't very good porn (I think everyone knows this) but that often isn't the point. It's forbidden and novel, but yet safe. HotTrannys.com won't question your sexuality - or imply that it's a problem if your sexuality is something other than "firmly heterosexual." Kink.com won't ask you for a divorce because you want to hit a woman, or imply that you're less of a man because you want one of them to hit you. Porn is risk-free. But risk is a necessary condition of human relationships, essential to trust, essential to bonding.

Look: I consume porn. I like porn. But there is nothing in the porn I watch that I wouldn't do in a heartbeat. Porn is like masturbation for me, or alone time with a book: it's enjoyable, but I wouldn't want it to stand in for another aspect of my sexuality or social/romantic life. And porn, whether you like it or not, isn't like sex in real life, any more than going on a date in real life is like a Hollywood romantic comedy.

There is a lot of good sex information out there, if you know where to look. Research has been done. Articles have been written. And there's a lot of porn out there. (See: erotica. See: explicit romance novels. See: Cosmo, with its unrealistic beauty standards and often-terrible sex advice.) What we lack is conversation. In real life, people generally don't talk about the sex they've had. Online or in print, "real life" stories about sex are likely to be fabricated, if not completely airbrushed out.

I am not qualified to be a sex educator. One day, perhaps? But I do have sex. (And I define "sex" really goddamn broadly.) I can put out data points. I like this. I don't like this. This works for me and my relationship. This doesn't. In my own little way, I can be part of a conversation that most people aren't having. I think that's worthwhile on its own.