I wrote this for an awareness group I attend and I want to share it with my gamers! As ever, I think gamer spaces are one of the most important places to share these kinds of things because there’s so much stigma and narrow-mindedness in these spaces that it stifles maturity, growth and serious conversation. Please be warned that I’ve never published anything on my blog as descriptive of sex as what I do below. However, I would still rate it PG.
Let’s talk about sex. Specifically, the kind of sex men like and dream of. As a man I’m going to disclose some of my personal experiences with sexual consent and what I’ve come to understand about it. I want to tell other men: Don’t look at consent as a way to prevent rape; that’s like looking at assault as a way to prevent murder. Consent is about engaging in provocative, seductive, mutual and open sexual acts. It’s the launchpad for that erotic trip to the moon; it is the only way from down here to up there. Just like that big silver button on this Xbox controller, consent is the first step to turning on the game and having the time of your life.
You probably think I’m going to talk about receiving consent from my partners. That’s usually the form discussions about consent take on: men need to ask women for consent to sex. And yes, that’s important too. It’s the only kind of sex I find enjoyable: loud, specific, demanding desire and volition from my lover. Because how can I know she really wants me if I don’t understand her fantasies and if she never tells them? I want her to say yes, and I want it loud and proud — not just with her voice but her body and explicit instruction. Where does she like it, how, when …hearing, seeing and feeling these things lets me know shes not merely saying yes, but enthusiastically inviting me to share an adventure with her. But I digress …
What I really want to talk about today is the consent I give. Now that’s an unexpected twist, isn’t it? Men don’t talk about giving consent because it’s supposed to be a given in our culture. Men always want sex, right? Our lovers don’t need to ask, or so we are lead to believe. This is just another myth used to reinforce the idea that men don’t need anything because we don’t feel anything. This leads to having our feelings trampled underfoot to meet the requirements of masculinity. But our sexual power isn’t in our ability to take from others or to give freely of ourselves when we’d rather not or as if we have no emotional stake in it. Our power is in shamelessly expressing sexual need and emotional desire. The emotional prohibition of masculinity is what makes us believe we consent by default and that we can’t say no because doing so is emasculating. I’m here to call bullshit and reclaim my sexuality for myself. If you enjoy great sex, you should too. And you should start today by actively consenting to your own sexual desires. This can enable you to see consent not as permission, but as essential to your own sexual fulfillment.
As a gamer, nerd and geek, as an ordinary member of this community who has been stereotyped as the impotent, weak, whiny, and effeminate loser …I have to confess: I like when my lovers ask for consent, even though it may play into those stereotypes in the eyes of some. It’s a feel-good kinda thing when that happens, being explicitly sought and wanted. Nerds are not used to this kind of attention so I welcome it. Consent becomes confidence and self-respect, the power button on my console that gives my joystick purpose and makes pressing buttons exciting. It feels different when someone you like, respect and find attractive lets you know that they want you without you being required to initiate — as men are taught to do. As a group, we rarely get to enjoy this side of sex and romance because of it. But it feels goooood. Crave this attention and bask in it when you receive it. It is the first step towards truly consenting to sex with another.
What is Consent?
There are different kinds of consent and one-size doesn’t fit all — just like condoms, cuffs and harnesses. Consent starts early, as soon as the two (or three or four) of you begin romantic dating. Sometimes I want to be teased or even abused along the way. I might say no just to add intrigue to the game. I may say no and then yes, or yes and then no — and I’m entitled to change my mind. I want my lover to play along while I figure out exactly what I want. More importantly, I want her respect my commands. That’s sexy too and not just the power fantasy involved, but the mutuality; she wants to do this and so do I, but right now we’re in the rapture of seduction. Consent is seduction.
Sometimes I want to do something weird or kinky with my lover. I’m allowed to have such desires and so is my partner, without fear of embarrassment or emotional harm. I’m not ashamed of my fantasies because they’re so good to me that I feel she might want to share in them too. We can test our physical and emotional boundaries in the sex arena (or the kitchen or wall or garden …) together. We can have a good time while we do, because we want this exchange of sexual creativity, even if we only wind up missionary, froggy or doggy. Maybe I want to try this outrageous fantasy with her tonight …tomorrow I might decide I hate it. Consent is temporary. Just because I give it now, doesn’t mean I give it later.
Then there’s the kind of consent that you gradually give, that you’re tempted into, that you acquiesce to, are lured to. Remember I mentioned that men are expected to do all the chasing? That idea isn’t just wrong, but harmful to us. I want to be chased, too. Maybe she really wants me more than I want her. Maybe I’m not in the mood or I’m not sure. Maybe I can see and feel that she’s craving a piece of me that she can’t get through conversation and kisses. She wants the heated breathlessness of my embrace. Eventually she could win me over and I’ll submit willingly and enthusiastically. I’ll give her my body to be satisfied that she’s satisfied. Satisfied that she respected me enough to ask, to pursue, to not judge my masculinity for not being on auto-pilot, to not treat me like she owns me –though that last bit can be sexy at the right time and place too. Consent is respect.
There are times I don’t consent or can’t; I’m not a machine. I get tired, my body can refuse to be interested, or any other number of reasons I simply don’t consent. In the back of my mind, I’m hoping her disappointment leaves the opportunity for a really promising sexual encounter later. I don’t have to say yes to her all the time just because I’m a man. It’s absurd to even expect this from ourselves or others. She may have to play alone for now, but we both know we have something to look forward to when I’m ready. Hopefully she’ll be ready for it too. Consent is patience.
We are all at our sexual peaks when we are consenting creatures. There’s no sex like consensual sex. And guys: you can consent too. You don’t owe anyone sex and you’re not obligated to be a sexual beast due to gender or chromosomes. You can say no and say yes. And you know what? I think you’ll find the secret to satisfying sex and fulfillment of your deepest fantasies lies in understanding and seeking active, passionate consent.
Respect + Trust + Seduction + Patience = Consent
Men can consent just as women can, and we’re missing out on exciting sexual events when we disengage or treat it like a license. Consent is also self-respect, so men should get to know their own feelings and desires about sex. It’s not just about knowing your own fantasies, but knowing that your fantasies include an additional living, breathing, sexy creature; that the fantasy literally requires their investment. Don’t aim so low as a mere “yes”, but strive for a partner that actively and overtly shows they can’t wait to have you. If the consent you receive is equivalent to engaging in a conversation with an NPC or if you feel like you could have the same amount of consent from a rubber doll (passive; the absence of a no and the lack of a yes; she’s willing to be a prop in your orgasm, but not participate, etc), re-evaluate and start over. From the top. You WANT to be wanted and desired and this is the only way to achieve it.
Indulge the seduction and suspense; aim for mutual desire, not just permission, by sharing fantasies. Even say no sometimes just to turn up the heat.
Consent isn’t about rape prevention. It’s about having the sex you really want.