#What is – consent

Consent is the difference between I WANT YOU TO FUCK ME and NO DON’T RAPE ME

Consent is about four things:

An action – what is it that is going to happen?

A belief – what do you know about what is going to happen AND the person you are with?

A connection between the action and the belief

Free will

In plain English here

Consent is all about both (all) parties being aware of what is wanted, the action; the physicality of sex/play. If the action is understood and wanted then and only then is it agreed too.

Consent is about having a reasonable belief that the action is wanted as understood by both (all) parties. There must be no ambiguity about what is wanted and you cannot be reckless in assuming that the action is wanted. Willingness to engage must be associated with active displays of wanting; physical and verbal.

Consent is what you know and what you understand about how the action fits with the want. A specific belief must be connected to a specific action. Don’t assume find out!

Consent erases all ‘blurred lines’ ‘grey areas’ and ‘miscommunications’ because it takes away any ambiguity by connecting the action with the belief. If you don’t know don’t act.

Consent is all about how both (all) parties come to the interaction. Both (all) parties must enter the totality of the interaction, and this includes communicating with each other, of their own free will. That is, there is nothing impeding their ability to understand or want. Coercion, deception, fraud, threat, intimidation, harassment, obligation and fear all take away from someone’s ability to understand. Just because someone else gets what you meant doesn’t mean I will.

Consent is not an issue when the ‘nature of the act’ is legally restricted. When ascertaining consent is taken away, sex is not sex but sexual assault (rape is not a criminal offence in the state I live in) when age, cognitive incapacity, consciousness, psychological distress, unlawful detention, intoxication, a position of authority over, the intention to harm or mistaken identity are relevant issues there can be no sex.

Consent validates and refocuses on the want rather than the I don’t want, moving sex from the no to the yes affirms and gives me permission to express my desires and needs both sexual and relational. This is why consent is affirmative.

Consent is about expressing, implementing and respecting boundaries and expectations within which action is allowed.

Consentire is Latin Con meaning together and Sentire meaning feel; the origin of the English word consent means coming together to feel. Consent is between two people who are coming together in order to feel something sexual.

Consent is intentional decision making rather than being reactive behaviours even within established healthy long term relationships. Implying that there can be some kind of illusion or suspension of consent is not a reality. We consent a thousand times in a thousand different ways within established relationships, so implying that because you choose to withhold the word ‘no’ you are somehow not consenting is, again, not a valid reality. Consent is not about the no and all about the want.

Consent is no existant when there is no or no longer any consent for the interaction or relationship to proceed any further. What some people call ‘withdrawal’ of consent really means that the boundaries of the relationship are no longer there, you have no place within my sex life so leave it.

You have a responsibility to inform and be informed. This is where communication becomes t keystone of consent. Communication is the ONLY way that understanding can happen and the only way that consent can be established. This absolute limit of personal responsibility. I am responsible to inform, what another person chooses to do with the information is beyond my control and therefore beyond my personal responsibility.

Consent specific to kink

Consent is consent irrespective of how you fuck. Being kinky, calling your sexual/intimate partner a kinky label or identifying in some way with ‘the BDSM community’ does not make you above the law.

Consent is all about communication. Negotiation is just a kinky word for talk it over. Remember communication is more than words.

Consent has nothing to do with a safe word. A safe word is something you choose to use in order to communicate with someone AFTER you have consented. Consent is established before anything physical or sexual occurs so before a safe word is ever needed. A safe word is a way to tell someone they need to be aware of or when something within the interaction has gone wrong. So saying ‘but they had a safe word and didn’t use it’ is invalid ALWAYS.

Consent allows us to become risk aware; by having conversations that allow us to have the best possible understanding of the action you are enabling yourself to be the most aware. If you actively and honestly communicate about therefore consent to the action; whatever that action is, you are choosing to become more aware of the entirety of what it is you are doing beyond the hypothetical what you think this could be/feel.

Think of sub space as an altered state of being, you are essentially changing the conscious state in a way that alcohol and drugs can. Obviously sub space is not a monolithic experience so it is imperative that you understand the individual that you are with. Again this comes back to communication and your personal responsibility to inform  and be informed about everything that is reasonably necessary to make a decision.

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#What is – poly

There are different types of and reasons for being in a relationship; some people only desire a casual encounter while others desire marriage, some are a long term commitment while others are a summer fling and some are just a confusing mess that without the regular Facebook relationship status update you couldn’t keep track of what is and isn’t going on. All relationships are different and for me the mono/poly element is just another difference; not something better or something worse just different.

I’m going to simplify what I write here. Poly is everything that a monogamous relationship isn’t. I know there are a lot of different ways and measures to identify poly but for me there is a fundamental connection between them all. The term poly as I’m going to use it here really isn’t about the make-up of the relationship so much as it’s about the reasons for it.

When I sat down to write this I was really conscious of my position as an outsider. I am monogamous through and through. If I cannot satisfy my intimate partner  than he/she is not the right person for me; likewise, if my partner is not able to satisfy the needs that I identify as belonging to my intimate relationship that we have no intimate relationship. I have no need or desire to create space in my life for more than one person, it’s not who I am as a woman and has no connection to my sexuality in any way. But I understand the need for others to do so, hence my position as an outsider in this conversation.

I see poly as meaning more than – more than one person, more than one relationship, more than one identifiable set of needs, and this is where I think the difference between non monogamy and monogamy really lies. Poly is about your ability to create a space in your life where you are able to accommodate that more than and where you are able to provide for the intimate needs of more than; by intimate I’m not talking just sexual, I’m talking about all of those needs that we assume belong to our intimate relationships. For me poly isn’t a threesome it goes beyond that to the separate spaces you create for your relationships. These spaces are definable and while you may inhibit more than one relationships space there is no significant difference between that space and the space of those in a monogamous relationship; the same “rules” apply, that is, if it would make you a jerk in a monogamous relationship it still makes you a jerk.

More than one is okay. One is okay. For me the problem arise not from the fact that there are people who are living more than one but the social constructions of why poly is okay.

So if poly is the space that you have in your life for more than one than what isn’t it?

As always there is not one way to do something but from my position as an outsider I’ve been able to observe one key thing that poly isn’t.

Poly is not the by-product of infidelity.

Infidelity would be something that most people would consider counter to the social norm; that is the dominant belief would be that if you are in a committed relationship than choosing to go outside of the boundaries set within that relationship is not okay. It may not be a statute in law but the attitudes and ideas surrounding relationships would assume that honesty with ones chosen partner would be expected and infidelity; going outside of your relationship without your partners’ knowledge would be being dishonest.

I see a lot written that tells me that because 50% (ish I’m not quoting statistics here) of the population may cheat on their spouse/partner then poly is justifiable. NO! Poly is not the opposite to fidelity; poly is the opposite of monogamy. Just because some President, golf star or actor chose to go outside of their agreed upon relationship doesn’t mean that we need this relationship construct called poly; we need it because it’s what people genuinely need in order to make their intimate relationships function, and for me to think that there are people out there who use the non-ethical behaviour of infidelity to justify an ethical relationship construct is something that I am really struggling to understand

People within a poly relationship are not doing so because they can’t not cheat on their partners they do so because they need these particular relationships in order to have their needs meet. Disregarding the place that the person you chose has in your life shouldn’t be the justification for anything – let alone the choices made about our intimate relationships.

Poly is not a substitute for an inability or unwillingness to satisfy or compromise with our partners, if you are choosing to be in an intimate relationship with someone than you are choosing to commit to them and their needs. Arguing that poly is a  substitute for poor choices is not bringing anything to the wider discussions about sex, sexuality and relationships; if anything people justifying poly as anything other than a valid normal relationship construct are doing a great disservice to those who choose to engage in such relationships.