No-Nonsense Non-Monogamy: Don’t dismiss consent requests!
Author: Shrimp Teeth
Exploring queerness, polyamory, and sexuality
Don’t Dismiss Consent Requests!
I’ve noticed (mostly) women have a tendency to reply, “you don’t have to ask” when (usually) men actually ask for consent to kiss or touch them. You can simply answer “yes.”
This type of socialized dismissal of consent doesn’t do anyone (including yourself) any favors.
Of course, I understand there are situations where someone is asking for repeated verbal consent, rather than picking up on non-verbal consent cues, to the point of impeding intimacy. In that situation, you can discuss what your non-verbal “yes” looks like with your pals.
Not everyone interprets non-verbal cues the same way, so if a pal is asking for consent too frequently, it can be useful to discuss what enthusiastic non-verbal consent looks like for you.
But this is different than what comes to mind when women say, “you don’t have to ask.”
What I notice, especially in cishet relationships, is a frequent dismissal of consent by women as a way of showing she trusts her male partner. But consent has nothing to do with trust. Giving blanket consent needs to be specific and intentional.
I love my partner, I love when she touches me, I trust her, and I still require consent because I’m not always in the mood or available to appropriately reciprocate intimacy.
Consent is about recognizing that we’re autonomous people and we don’t always know what the other wants. And I get that people say “you don’t have to ask” when intimacy feels good. But it sets a bad precedent, where you’re expecting your pals to accurately judge for you when you want intimacy.
That’s not their responsibility, only you can consent, so they deserve your transparency!
Often, the dismissal of consent points to unexamined gender roles. Even women who understand consent can end up feeling pressured to follow more feminine-coded submissive scripts, instead of advocating for what they actually want. Which unfairly casts men as dominant. No one wins.
And I understand breaking internalized gender roles can be hard and awkward. But learning to practice ACTUAL active consent requires us to grapple with deconstructing normative scripts and struggling with our conditioning that tells us we shouldn’t speak up or be “difficult.”
Again, there’s a tendency to see consent as an issue only cis-men need to work on, but that’s far from the truth. If women expect men to ask for consent, they need to do their part by advocating for their true desires, whether that’s yes or no. And vice versa!
My challenge is simple but hard: regardless of gender, ask your pals for consent. When you’re asked, be honest & concise. Be deliberate about giving blanket consent. Think about your non-verbal cues, ask your pals about theirs.
Consent is an ongoing practice for all of us.
Sam is a sex educator and artist who explores queerness, polyamory, and sexuality through their work. She’s passionate about exploring ways to broaden relationship structures to foster more connections between people. They use art and illustration as part of their education process.
No Nonsense Non Monogamy is brought to you by GLUE.
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