If It’s Not A Clear Yes, It’s A No: Honoring Sexual Consent In Relationships
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There are many aspects of sexuality that aren’t spoken about enough, especially within the African American community. One of those subjects happens to be sexual consent. Before getting into any type of sexual activity, consent needs to be granted on both ends for sex to commence in a peaceful and enjoyable fashion. Unfortunately, sexual consent isn’t something that is always secured before sex occurs, and this type of commandeering often leaves its victims feeling violated and abused.
We often hear about rape in the context of a random stranger pulling a woman off the street, date rape or a school teacher having sex with her underage student, but what we rarely hear about openly are the stories from women who have been forced into sex by someone they trust and love.
As quiet as it is kept, rape within relationships happens far more than what one would expect and it is a situation that can make any woman feel trapped, alone and worthless. According to one national study, “based on the findings of the largest U.S. study of violence against women to date, it is estimated that over 7 million women have been raped by their intimate partners in the United States (Mahoney, Williams & West, 2001; Tjaden & Thoennes, 1998).” Further research goes on to state that “one out of every 8 adult women in the US has experienced at least one forcible rape in her lifetime.”
Even within the confines of a marriage or committed relationship, consent still needs to be given clearly for both partners to play responsibly, but sometimes a man’s desires and his previous interactions with his partner can lead him to believe advancing in a sexual manner is okay. In reality, it’s not.
The words “no”, “stop”, “not right now” or other words that signify a negative response to sexual advances should not be taken lightly or viewed as playing “hard to get.” Negative body language such as sitting with arms or legs crossed, facing the body away from a partner, or the limbs being placed close to the body are also signs of non interest.
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If a woman does not give full consent for her body to be touched or used sexually and activity commences despite her lack of cooperation, then this constitutes rape. The worst part is, many of the men who fall into the “forcible sex” category see absolutely nothing wrong with the act, and many of the women who face these types of situations have no idea how to bring this topic up without making her beloved feel like a criminal or a creep.
There are ways for men to ask for consent without sounding clinical or awkward in the process:
Ask her what she wants in a message.
Sometimes, what we can’t verbalize is better said in a written message. If sex is on the brain for the evening, send a message of interest placing the power of the experience in her hands before assuming she has the same activity in mind. Send a message that reads something like, “Baby, I can’t wait for our personal time tonight…it turns me on when you tell me what you want me to do to you,”and wait for her response. The goal is to allow her to call the shots so that her comfort, safety and consent are placed as a priority. If she doesn’t respond positively to the text, then opt for a movie night.
Give her control in the bedroom.
It’s her body that has to be entered before sex can commence, so by giving her the control over when sex is happening and when it isn’t secures her safety physically and mentally. A woman must feel safe in order for the arousal stages to properly set into place. One of the major reasons why women do not orgasm regularly is because of anxiety being held in the mind. Help her relax and gain her proper consent by relinquishing control in the bedroom during the initiation phase, and always check in with her to ensure her satisfaction is being met during intercourse.
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Make her beg for it.
A fun way to determine her level of interest and receive a woman’s absolute consent for sex is to entice her to beg for what she wants. This is a true definition of playing hard to get. If she is aroused and has given the green light in positive verbal confirmations and in her body language, then deflecting her advancements playfully will not only intensify her desires and signify her consent, but will give the male partner an ego boost in knowing he is desired.
Sometimes, it takes simple communication to clear the air about what is appropriate and what isn’t when it comes to the initiation of sexual activity. Remaining in constant awareness of these standards is critical in maintaining a healthy and positive dynamic between lovers.
If non-consented sexual activity is happening within your relationship and you are seeking help to break away from the abuse, contact the National Sexual Assault Hotline at 800-656-HOPE (4673). Or, log on to https://www.rainn.org/get-help/national-sexual-assault-hotline.
Glamazon Tyomi is a freelance writer, model and sex educator with a deeply rooted passion for spreading the message of sex positivity and encouraging the masses to embrace their sexuality. Her website, http://www.sexperttyomi.com, reaches internationally as a source for advice and information for the sexually active/curious. Follow her on Twitter at @glamazontyomi.