Siggy linked this piece recently. [cw for sexual violence talk, quoted flippant rape jokes, sex talk related to defining consent in the context of sex, that sort of thing]  It’s a decent read.  Some things needled me, though.

One of them was this.

“Just lying there in silence while things happen to you is not consent. That should not be conflated with physically responding to your partner’s initiation of sex in a way that’s active and enthusiastic, but does not necessarily involve spoken words.”

…which reminded me about the other time I wrote a scattered journal entry on the same kind of idea: the idea that good & right non-violating physical intimacy requires a certain physical configuration and style of interaction — that is, mutual, simultaneous, active-active interaction.

And if someone, like, say, me, “just lies there in silence while things happen” during, say, a cuddle session, then I’m, I don’t know, Consenting Wrong or something, because in order to be Consenting I have to be moving around and stuff like a wriggle worm.

Incidentally, this idea that I should Perform My Feelings Correctly is not good for me.  The idea of outward “enthusiasm” as indicative of genuineness is not good for me.  You rely on that metric, you’ll make completely wrong guesses about which of my experiences have been happy and which have been violating.

I don’t want to be “active” and “enthusiastic” sometimes.  I know that’s some form of politically inconvenient, because I know where these ideas are coming from, but presumably me convincing myself to put on an act and adopt certain scripted behaviors out of no desires of my own but to cave to pressure and mesh with the dogmatic preferences of others for their comfort against my own… would not be the goal of consent activists.

You know what’s not that hard?  Encouraging people to be cautious, and to develop multiple kinds of double-checks, and to pursue effective and open communication, without implying that A Consenting Person’s Body will Look a Certain Way.  And come to think of it, the idea that violation (or the absence thereof) can be read in physical behaviors themselves is exactly the idea I just critiqued here.  Stop it!  Stop doing the thing!

Anyway, the excerpt above becomes puzzling in light of this:

“Some will tell us that consent must be enthusiastic; others, especially those advocating from an asexual or sex work perspective, will say that people should be free to choose sex even when they aren’t enthusiastic about it at all, as long as it’s a real choice.”

So… she’s aware of those stances, and presents them without a counterargument, and seems to see merit in them — so what was the point of using “enthusiastic” that way earlier?  You’re throwing me for a loop here and I don’t know what’s going on anymore.


5 responses to “again

  • Siggy

    4th paragraph link is broken.

    If your outward reactions are atypical, it’s not so much that there’s anything wrong with that, it’s just that you might not be able to rely on nonverbal consent.

    • Coyote

      Hm, dunno how that happened, but thanks.

      Well, yeah, I know. What I’d like to see is less “a person who is doing X can’t be the same as a person who is consenting” (which is very much how this stuff comes across) as some failed way of saying “if you take X to be a consent indication, you might be making a mistake.”

  • R.

    I don’t understand why verbal check-ins are considered…I don’t know…goofy, or non-sexy, or tiring, or whatever. All it takes is a “How’s that?” or “Is that okay?” Phrases that take less than a second to say. I certainly don’t mind saying them. (Incidentally, my partner appreciates that I do.)

    There definitely needs to be more onus on the initiator to keep these things in mind (their partner’s typical body language, energy levels, expressiveness, etc), than on the other partner having to constantly prove they’re into it.

  • Klaaraa

    this is important

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