Tag Archives: sexual relationships

Insecurities and Consent

For some people, asking for consent feels like asking someone their opinion of your inherent desirability and maybe even your worth. Rejection of an activity can feel like a rejection of your entire self.

This is a problem. It’s not healthy for your entire relationship to be on the line every time you ask someone for sex. You need and deserve to be secure in your own desirability and worth without relying on the unpredictable sexual urges of other people to maintain that security. Your partners need and deserve the space to say “no” freely and without emotional pressure. […]

Plan ahead of time how you can work through these feelings without making your partner feel punished or obligated to change their mind. If you have a regular partner, it might be good to let them know about your insecurities and how you plan to handle your response, so they know, for instance, that if you need to go for a walk or take some alone time, you’re not punishing them and you don’t want them to change their mind to placate you – that you know it’s your responsibility to work through your feelings and that you’ve got it handled.

You can also preempt some of these insecurities by working on finding other ways to feel good about your body or to feel close and connected to another person in a way they do freely consent to.

–TDF, “Insecurities and Consent”

Today I’ve added this as recommended reading onto my sex-as-worth principle post.


AA: Questioning a Change

[cw: relationship conflict, explicit sex talk]

Mary wrote in:

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a shift in perspective

Fun fact, when I was first exposed to consent seminars and deliberate education on that kind of thing, I was a little wary of it at first but also quickly impressed with it as a good idea, because prior to that point in my life (college), people just didn’t talk about this stuff.  So I remember having a tentative positive impression of the whole thing.  Because I believed “people in my culture just don’t know how to communicate about this, or that it’s okay and good to communicate about it explicitly.”  That’s what I believed.  And maybe that still is partially true.

But the more I’ve grown and the more I’ve developed my thoughts on the subject, the more I’ve become dissatisfied with their surface approach toward basic communication templates instead of underlying values, because the actual larger problem at hand is that American masculinity is a cult of violation.


AA: Ace/Non-Ace Relationship Ambiguity

[cw: sex, in specifics]

BD wrote in:

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for the language nerds and gender nerds

(I know there are at least… two of you)

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AA: Desire and Spontaneity

CN: talk of sex within marriage & sexual desire

Anonymous wrote in:

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Partnership, Desire, Desirability, and the Sex-as-Worth Principle

CN: relationship problems, body-image issues, social pressure, sex as a site of conflict, and related issues (ex. sexual abuse comes up for about a paragraph).  All the sex talk here will be non-graphic, but this post is about interpersonal conflict between partners where one doesn’t want a sexual relationship and the other one does, so brace yourselves for that if you keep reading.  Whenever I see this discussion happen, people seem very eager to consider that the partner who wants a sexual relationship might be well-meaning and non-abusive and genuinely hurt by their partner’s disinterest, so for sake of argument, that’s the narrow hypothetical I’m going to be focusing on for now…

…because even if we want to focus on their side of the story, the reassurance I see always seems to fall short of what I suspect is at the heart of the issue.

If you agree that sex is not a vitamin but also want to acknowledge potential-or-actual damage to self-esteem as a “result” of someone not being sexually desired, this post is for you.

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Abuse and Nontraumatic, “Good” Sex

As an addendum to this post on/response to the “how was it experienced”/”should it have happened” distinction, I wanted to share this excerpt from Lundy Bancroft’s book on abuse, from a passage describing the reasons why an abusive man might create positive sexual experiences for his partner in an abusive relationship.

[O]n some level he hopes that his ability to transport you sexually will tie you to him, so that he can have power over you in other, nonsexual ways.  And, in some relationships, the abuser’s belief in the power of his sexuality is self-fulfilling: if much of the rest of the time he acts cold or mean, the episodes of lovemaking [sic] can become the only experience you have of loving attention from him, and their addictive pull thus becomes greater.  In this way he can draw you into being as dependent on sex as he is, although for a very different reason.

Lundy Bancroft, Why Does He Do That?, p.174

It’s not the kind of consideration that often features in ace-based discussions, but as long as we’re going to be raising challenges to mainstream sex-positivity, this seemed relevant.


A More Detailed Topography of Social Cost

This post delves more into what I earlier termed “conflict-aversion,” perhaps better described as interpersonal cost, or social cost, although the latter refers to something different in the field of economics.  I’m conceptualizing social cost here as a factor that may be anticipated or taken into account in an individual’s decision making, particularly in the case of concession or “compromise.”  The rest of this post considers various examples of how and when this can apply.

[ tw for talk of boundaries, coercion, and emotional manipulation ]

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Sex is Not a Vitamin

So we kick around all these phrases like “sex is not a universal need” and “sex can’t be something you owe someone” and “nobody’s entitled to sex with you” and all that, and although I agree wholeheartedly, I think I’ve noticed a blindspot — or at least, an angle that could use more emphasis.  Regardless, it’s good to practice saying it more, and I think more people need to hear this.

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