Dear Miss Meghan,
What is your take on “implicit consent”? Should people always talk about sex before having it?
Dear Maybe Willing-
The short answer is YES YES YES! Please, for the love of all that is shiny in the world, talk to your partner(s) about sex before having it. Legally, and judicially, there is no such thing as implicit consent when it comes to sex.
It is too easy to miss-read a situation and your perception of the “signals” may be way off base. “When you assume, you make an ASS out of U and Me.” Get it? Got it? Good.
A brilliant example of this can be seen in our (sizable) friend, the erection. If a male does not desire to have sex with someone, but still has an obvious physiological response, this engorgement does not mean that he gives consent to have sex.
Sometimes erections happen, like during your fifth grade spelling bee, and they can be more of an accident (or an embarrassment) than an actual indicator of desire. It’s ok to have an erection and be aroused and not want to have sex. I promise.
This example can also be found in female survivors of sexual assault. If a woman does not want to have sex and is then forced to anyways, then her body produces vaginal lubrication and/or she has an orgasm, this does NOT mean that she really wanted it (or maybe she faked it to get you to stop).
The same way a person can desire to have sex but may struggle with the arousal (especially when alcohol is involved), a person can experience physiological arousal but no actual desire.
There is too much “gray” to determine if someone is implying consent. A person can spend the night hitting on you, flirting, trying to be smooth, winking (does any one wink anymore?), grinding, “subtly” tying the cherry stem into a knot with their tongue, flexing muscles, buying flowers, licking lips, making out, dry humping, or any of the other hundreds of ways we try to let each other know “Hey, I’m kinda into you,” but NONE of these mean “Hey, I want our sex organs to play together.”
The wonderful thing about not assuming consent means that, unless you want to run the risk of being accused of sexual assault, you actually have to talk about sex (gasp!).
Asking someone to have sexual relations with you opens the door to talk about why/why not, what do you/they like/don’t like, STI tested, birth control options, etc. Talking about sex does two things for you; covers your ass and makes sex better. So I ask, why not talk about it?
I would now like to throw down a challenge for you all: I want you to email me at firstname.lastname@example.org with examples of ways to ask someone else to have sex with you; the good, the bad, the crude, and the just down right ridiculous.
I want lines as simple as “Wanna do it?” to the hilariously bad “I’m an astronaut, and my next mission is to explore Uranus. You in?” Winners get a prize, and the best lines will be published in the next issue.
The ones not fit for publishing will go online at my blog spot, because, well, you can write anything online! Let the games begin!
-Sincerely wishing fall break was longer,