But Wait, Consent Isn’t Sexy…Right?
That’s what we’ve been told. “Girls don’t want guys to ask before they kiss us,” the lead actress in a rom-com says to the bumbling nice guy who was foolish enough to ask for permission before he touched her. “We want guys who just go for it.” In an instant, all that passionate, spontaneous sexual tension, the kind that makes everyone oblivious to their surroundings, the kind that only exists in movies, is gone. The lead man’s overt attempt to seek consent is treated as sexually immature, and no man wants to seem sexually immature. And so, by association, all efforts to seek consent are labelled inherently unsexy.
“I don’t want to kill the mood.”
“Girls like guys who are confident.”
“If I wait too long, she won’t be into it anymore.”
These are some of the common excuses men give when asked why they don’t like the concept of consent. But seeking consent doesn’t have anything to do with having low confidence or destroying sexual tension. In fact, seeking consent is incredibly sexy.
The hottest part of sex isn’t having a partner who takes what they want. It’s having a partner who is deeply invested in your pleasure and enthusiasm. Sleeping with a person who thinks sex is limited to vaginal penetration, who doesn’t know or care if you got off? Not sexy. Sleeping with a person who is attentive, who pays attention to your physical and verbal cues, who is invested in your pleasure? Very, very sexy.
It shouldn’t come as a surprise that consent and pleasure are intrinsically linked. Understanding consent hinges on respecting someone else’s wants and needs. In other words, understanding consent means knowing that your partner’s pleasure is just as important as your own, and taking steps to ensure your partner’s needs are met. If your partner doesn’t want to have sex with you, this means respecting their boundaries and not trying to engage them in sex. If your partner does want to have sex with you, this means paying attention to what they like and don’t like, ensuring that they enjoy the entire experience.
So how do you make sure your partner is having a good time without “killing the mood?” Try making your questions about them and their pleasure. In this way, asking for consent naturally transitions from a rote, contract-like procedure into a form of playful dirty talk.
Instead of asking, “Can I [insert sexual act here]?” ask, “What do you like?” or “What do you want me to do to you?” If your partner is shy or seems hesitate to verbalize what they want, give them plenty of opportunities to answer “yes” or “no’ with questions like, “Is this okay?” “Is this what you want?” or “Would you like it if I did [x]?”
If your partner gives you a “no,” respect that cheerfully without hesitation or complaint. And of course, throughout all your sexual encounters, make sure that you are paying close attention to your partners’ body language.
Why is this method of seeking consent effective and sexy? If you turn consent into a fun, ongoing conversation, you let your partner know that their pleasure and their boundaries are important to you. You make it clear that you are excited to be with them and to give them pleasure on their own terms, regardless of which acts they say “yes” to and which they say “no” to. Trust me, an environment built on enthusiasm, respect, and communication is infinitely sexier than one built on silence and assumptions.