Okay guys, remember this article? You know, the one about reporting sexual assault that included this paragraph:
A minor — in general, 16 or 17, depending on the state — can legally consent to sexual activity. A person of any age who is forced or threatened, developmentally disabled, chronically mentally ill, incapacitated by drugs or alcohol, unconscious or preparing to undergo a medical procedure cannot legally consent to sexual activity.
Wanna help with a letter-to-the-editor campaign?
See, tumblr is great and all…but a letter to the editor could be read by a lot more people, and has potential to effect potentially greater change. So I’m going to send a letter to the editor explaining that yes, actually, I can and do consent to sexual activity, and I’d encourage you all to do the same.
Contact info:NYTimes contact: email@example.comAuthor: firstname.lastname@example.org(And I’ll publish what I submit here, as well.)
If you can’t articulate a full post or have anxiety around sending an email, feel free to send me comments or emails or whatever. I’ll put together something with your comments when I get back online monday so that your comments can be heard too. I know I have a couple of followers who struggle with anxiety about this sort of thing.
Here’s my own personal response. I hope I got my idea across?
In response to The Twice-Victimized of Sexual Assault: Awareness about the prevalence of Sexual Assault in our country is needed. But I was appalled by the statement that People with Developmentally Disabled and People with Chronic Mental Health Disabilities cannot consent to sex. This is not only wrong, but encourages a system that victimizes us by saying we are incapable of consenting to major choices in our lives. We are often denied competence to object to our care, report abuse, own property, and live independently because of this argument. By denying us our sexual agency, you reinforce the same system that makes an abusive power dynamic- one in which our abuse is framed as inevitable. Our loved ones will have to have detailed, not in the heat of the moment conversations about what sexual consent means to us, yes. But shouldn’t all couples be having that discussion?
also, this is probably as good a time as any to start talking about:
[BAD IN BED]
So, my idea is for this zine thing called Bad in Bed that explores the similarities/connections between sexual needs and access needs. Or writes about sex as a series of access needs.
Basically I’ve always been really interested in writing/talking about what different people want or need sexually or what sex is to them. Being gay is probably the most acknowledged different sexual need, but there are various other things that isolate, constrict, and/or stigmatize people sexually, like being graysexual or asexual, being stone, being into power exchange, having fetishes…basically anything where sex means something different to you, or you need something different, or you don’t want to or can’t do something that is seen by other people as being part of sex.
(It probably seems weird that I am talking about asexual people as people who have different sexual needs instead of none, but it is really a failure of language in my part that I am using the word sex, because what I mean to talk about is a particular kind of connection that I can’t name or define. There are definitely situations where one person doesn’t want to “have sex” but their lack of interest in doing that leads to losing something that they actually do want which seems to be tied up in “having sex.”)
Anyway, even though I think that these differences between people and their needs are super interesting, I often feel like it’s not really seen that way because there is Real Sex and then there’s the rest of us and maybe what we need (or don’t need) is just a problem. I think it’s really similar to the reasons disability exists, because individual needs become invisible unless they are unusual—no one actually needs anything except one person, who has a “fetish,” is probably reacting to a traumatic experience (therefore isn’t real?), and so on.
Don’t know if this is a very good explanation, but Bad in Bed would be an interview zine which would obviously be anonymous, and would basically be about people talking about what they need sex/closeness to be, times when there has been a mismatch between what they needed and what someone else needed or wanted them to need, and/or how this relates to disability if they are disabled. Signal boost if you think this sounds interesting or if you are interested yourself, email me (awf.vivian at gmail).
Gah more “consent is verbal” bull on my dash
Some of us can’t speak whilst doing other things (like sex, for instance).
Some people can’t understand verbal communication, or have transient understanding of verbal communication.
STILL FUCKING CONSENSUAL, know when things aren’t consensual? When somebody directly involved views it as being non-consensual.
it’s a really particular (and sometime really oppression-reinforcing) idea that consent always has to follow this very specific very verbal pattern to be, well, consenty
consenty, is an awesome word, just saying.
I don’t have to be verbal to consent. I don’t have to be able-minded to consent. I don’t even need to test out at a certain level of “intelligence” to consent.
Trigger warning for rape
[Everything else snipped—Nora]
Yeah i’m a bit ehhhh about the “enthusiastic” thing being treated as like… an absolute. Like it’s a very good starting place and can serve as a good benchmark and measurement of whether there’s unseen pressure or like… feelings of obligation or unclear ideas of what you actually want happening.
Lack of enthusiasm should probably be a red flag, but it doesn’t necessarily mean there’s no consent. It’s not the only way this can work.
Verbal is even more blatantly a problem. Like seriously ugh; my assuming that I needed to communicate this stuff verbally has actually resulted in situations where I needed to be like “okay stop now” but don’t comunicate anything because I can’t really talk >.<
This. I mean, if I personally were sleeping with someone and I thought they weren’t enthusiastic, I would stop. But it’s presumptuous to assume that the way consent manifests within *my* relationships is somehow ~universal~.
And yeah “verbal” is ridiculous.
Also, “enthusiastic consent” as a concept can be hugely problematic. Like, I’ve heard other people talk about how it can take years to build up to a truly fair, “enthusiastic” model of consent. And in some ways I can understand that even beyond sexual violence, there are still problems with how society teaches us to understand sex (so, so many problems). So it’s not *bad* to create a term that stands for sex that is consensual but also otherwise non-destructive. I just don’t think that term should piggy-back off of “consent.”
TL;DR. There are no “types” of consent. You cannot have one type of consent and none of the others. Either activities are consensual, or they are sexually violent, EVEN IF the sexual violence superficially involved things that look like consent (not struggling, not screaming, saying “yes,” etc.)
Yeah pretty much. My experiences have mostly been like… cases of thinking I needed to do one thing (because of norms) when I really shouldn’t have done it and not paying attention to my emotional red flags and everything.
So like there was definitely consent and all that but there probably shouldn’t have been which has meant that a lot of my experiences weren’t as pleasant as I’d’ve liked. So I think normativization of sexual activities needs to be discussed for discussion of consent to benefit everyone. But yeah.
Asking for consent is always sexy.
Raping someone is not. But you can never ask for consent too much.
I love talking during sex. I love it so.much. Being asked what I want, or like, “is this okay”, “are you ready for…” is a huge turn on. I realize some people might hate talking whilst fucking, but I love it and, for me, there really is never “too much” consent. Not to mention it makes me feel really sexy giving consent. I like play-by-play dirty talk, I guess. Why am I writing this on the internet.
I’m not the *biggest* fan of talk during sex, i guess. but i do love being asked.
I hate being asked to talk during sex. I can’t do the processing of the tactile input AND be able to verbalize at the same time. Sometimes I can, but it is a HUGE struggle for me.
I tend to have agreements with my lovers as to how consent works for me and how to know consent is withdrawn at some point- usually when their asking too much gets to be an issue. I Appreciate it, especially at the beginning of an encounter, when it’s mega sexy but sometimes… Look, I’m trying to enjoy this, I can’t give you answers that are beyond yes and no and I might not be able to hear the details of a question so keep them simple. I have sensory processing issues. being details is not gonna help things when I’m getting too many different sensory inputs.
huh i see your point there. but the discussions beforehand should help.
Yeah, I’m pro-consent I just personally have my own personal consent standards and ways of having my partners establish my consent. I follow their standards to determine their consent. Actually, my difficulty with verbal ability during sex is one of the reasons I prefer the other person to initiate things. If there’s something I would like to do, I try to discuss it with them before we get into things, preferably via IM (less disctractions; the afore mentioned sensory issues and verbal issues are related to me being an Autistic), and figure out how we want to with drawl consent if it comes up.
I’m not saying I’ve always been great at this- [might be triggery for difficulty recognizing feelings of coercion in a partner] I had one relationship where my needs and my partner’s needs were pretty divergent, and I later learned that he had consented to having an open relationship (and other more specific things I won’t get into here) because he didn’t want to lose me. My (Non-Autistic though not really NT- she has TBI-) sister gave me shit for it later, pointing out that his consent wasn’t entirely freely given (which I had missed- again, Autistic) and that it was a shitty thing to do- that I should have broken up with him instead. I never threatened him with breaking up or anything, but it’s not my place to determine if he felt coerced or not. I felt sick once my sister told me he felt that way, and it prompted me to actually break up with him because the relationship part had become a looming fear. Things went on pretty much the same as they had been after that, but with less of him feeling he needed to engage in things he wasn’t comfortable with.
Now I have scripts of things to look for to make sure I’m not inadvertently coercing people into sexual situations they do not want. My sister and I talk about things if there’s anything that could POSSIBLY be an issue (minus names usually, or sexually explicit details, of course) so that she can call me on things I’m oblivious to. My family is a part of my life, so most of my partners at least have her friended on FB. If they feel close, they seem to email my sister and they’ll talk about me, and if needed she’ll come to me about major issues or me missing major things (More so general relationship stuff than sex stuff, of course.)
And now I’m terrified that people will feel icky about that confession and yeah. 0_0