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On consent, and the meaning of ‘no’

There are very few blog posts that I regret writing – even if I’m wrong I’m happy to show how wrong I was and reflect on what I’ve learned. This one, though, I don’t like: it was written a long time ago when I didn’t have the language or knowledge to express what I was really talking about – consensual non-consent, and established trust within relationships. 

‘Yes’ is a powerful word. It gives someone permission to do things. Some people choose to say yes to certain people – you can fuck me, but he can’t. She can suck me off, but I’m not so sure about her. Some people give their consent for specific acts – you can shag me, but you can’t put it in my ass. You can cane me, but not so hard it draws blood. Restrain me, but with soft ropes not gaffer tape.

Etc, etc, etc ad infinitum – humans are infinitely different and weird and filthy. A man who chokes me with my consent is a stunning, cunt-wetting sex-god. A man who chokes me without my consent is a criminal.

But I hate the idea that I have to give that consent explicitly, and I hate that often I’m told to be more cautious than I am. I hate the idea that ‘no means no’.

If boys always took my ‘no’s to mean exactly that, I’d have spent most of my life crywanking myself to completion after disappointing vanilla sex, imagining how good it could be if he’d just, you know, spit in my fucking mouth or hit me in the face or something.

A blanket ‘no means no’ rule doesn’t hold up to scrutiny in my longer relationships – it’s an easy and useful default in an unfamiliar situation, and can prevent people from being forced into doing things they don’t want to do. But when relationships develop and communication muddies the waters, ‘no’ can mean anything from ‘I just can’t be bothered’ to ‘persuade me’ to ‘I’ll get wet if you make me do it.’

The massive ‘but’

I don’t speak for everyone. Obviously. My own views on consent within the relationships I enter into is probably pretty extreme, and if I only gave you my word on what ‘no’ means I could potentially cause a lot of damage.

So I want to show you a selection of other views on the matter. All the women I asked about this gave excellent, thoughtful and interesting responses. Not one of them had a simple answer.

Mags – If I give you a real ‘no’, you’ll know

The first time I had buttsex, my boyfriend didn’t ask, he didn’t even tell me he was going to do it – he just did it. Part of me was outraged that he didn’t ask, but a bigger part of me loved that he didn’t.

Overall, I don’t say no (and mean it) often…I sometimes play at “no”, but there is always a massive fucking “yes” in my eyes and I guess I’m lucky that I have always had partners who can read me.

A genuine “no” is accompanied by body language that also says “no” loud and clear – taking myself out of arms reach, covering my body, leaving the room – but it’s nearly always no from the outset, I can count on one hand, and still have digits spare, the times a yes has become a no.

Girl A – Consent is agreed beforehand

For me, the word “no” is very rarely used in the bedroom. Once you’ve made it that far, there’s not very much I’m not willing to at least try. Previous to this we’ve probably discussed my hard limits.

If I’ve invited you back to mine, or am coming back to yours, we’ve spoken about what unspeakable things we’d like to do to each other.  But I don’t outright ask/get asked “would you like to have sex?”, and then wait for an affirmative.

Something like having sex with me when I’m asleep? With some of my boys I wouldn’t mind, but I would rather we’d discussed it beforehand.

Amanda C – None of us can read minds

My idea of consent and responsibility for consent resides in this larger idea: you can’t read anyone’s mind, and nobody can read yours. You have a responsibility to yourself to clearly express what you want and how you feel to other people. This doesn’t mean being a totally unfiltered open book, but understanding that although there might be a lucky chance that someone else totally groks to your signals, you’re responsible for stating what you mean, what you want, how you feel.

I think that a lot of people react to grey areas by attempting to make a list of dos and don’ts, which is just impossible because you can’t make a list for everything, and what, are people going to carry a little laminated card with them? Like some kind of flowchart for banging?

You can’t assume the “whys” of other folks, be it in sex, dress, behavior, etc. This doesn’t mean that everyone is being deceitful, and showing one thing but feeling another. It just means that you can’t read their mind, and they can’t read yours.

Girl B – It depends on how well I know you

It very much depends on who I’m with. With one guy we have talked about everything we both like and don’t, so yes for him means that anything we’ve talked about goes. Part of that package is me saying “no”, because I love to play that game. I love pretending to say no and having him do it anyway. But I trust him and he knows the score.

If I was with someone new, yes would mean…well anything I’m comfortable with. If I haven’t already discussed it and something happens that I don’t like, then no definitely means no. If he doesn’t know me well I don’t think he has the right to interpret that “no” as anything other than serious.

As a woman who has said no and meant it, and been ignored, this is a tricky area. I was in a relationship years ago. One night, I didn’t want sex (at all, I was drunk and spinning and made it very clear), but he pinned me down, covered my mouth, forced himself on me and anally raped me. Now in a different situation with a guy I trusted and had talked about that with, it may have been a huge fucking turn-on. In this case, I was scared, unable to breathe, angry, violated. His view was that I was his girlfriend and he could do what he liked. Wrong.

Yes, no, maybe, please

I don’t know how to end this, but I don’t know the answer to the original question either. What is consent, and how can you make sure you have it?

You can ask for it outright, but that takes away the potential for fun sex that pushes boundaries and makes people uncomfortable and makes me come like it’s the end of the world.

Or you can guess that you have it, but then you risk damaging someone you’re aiming to delight.

But I think it’s OK to not have a blanket rule, so I’m happy to chuck ‘no means no’ away for the time being. If you’re following a set of hard-and-fast rules on consent then you’re likely to trip up regularly – either by pushing things far too far or not far enough – because everyone’s different.

No doesn’t mean no for everyone. Sometimes it means ‘yes’ or ‘maybe’ or ‘persuade me’ or ‘not right now.’ To fully understand exactly what it means you have to listen really carefully.

 

Postscript: This was written in response to some reactions to my previous post on buttsex, in which a guy did sexy things to me after I’d begged him not to. Many thanks to @hellsbell_ for raising the issue

On buttsex

UPDATE 2018: The story I tell here is something that I found deeply hot and that was 100% consensual and happened with a guy I trust very much. We have a dynamic that includes some consensual non-consent (i.e. pretending that I don’t want something even if I do), and as a result we have very specific ways in which I’ll let him know if something is genuinely not what I want). Essentially, saying ‘no’ in a voice that sounds like ‘yes.’ However, this blog post was written a long time ago when I didn’t know how to explain that very well, and as a consequence lots of people thought it was disturbing or genuinely non-consensual. 

If you enjoy consensual non-consent, you might enjoy this post. If you don’t, please don’t read on. 

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On what is not wrong with you, part 3: your height

I’m a massive, massive girl. I stand at five foot 11 in bare feet, which means that in the pretty boots I rock a good six feet three inches. Massive.

Wikipedia informs me that the average height for guys in England is five foot 9 or 10 inches (depending on age). If I only fucked guys who were taller than me I’d have spent most of my life alone.

Practicalities aside, there is genuinely nothing wrong with a male/female coupling in which the guy is shorter. The only reason we think it’s weird is because cretins point out that society has certain expectations about height. It’s a way to make people feel self-conscious about things they have no control over – playground bullying that grown ups should have grown out of.

My first ever boy was pretty small – he came just a bit higher than my shoulder. But you know what? I got used to it after about a week, and from then on the only time I noticed it was when shallow, judgemental arseholes would make comments about it.

“Don’t you get a sore neck when you’re kissing him? HAHAHA.”

No more than guys get when they’re with shorter girls, you gold-plated prick.

People pretend to be interested in the mechanics of a small guy fucking a woman who’s taller:

“Doesn’t it make it harder when you’re fucking standing up?”

No. Doesn’t your miserable attitude make it difficult for you to fuck at all?

They’re not really interested – they just want to discuss it and point out how ridiculous it is that we don’t conform to the exact physical expectations that they’d have regarding gender and height. Ha fucking ha.

Dear short men

You’re hot. But you’re not hot because you’re short – as with the vast majority of the population your height has little bearing on your fuckability. A tight, firm ass, a deliciously-placed tattoo, a penchant for dropping filthy comments into pub conversation – these are the most important things.

So no matter how many inches you have, work them with confidence. If you’re low on self-esteem there are some things you can change – you can be fatter or thinner or nicer or more likely to put out, but you cannot change your height – rock whatever you have with confidence and charm, and the people who matter will fuck you no matter what.

Some guys try and disguise their height with, for instance, big shoes or by *cough* Sarkozy *cough* standing on a box. But not only is it unnecessary, I’d argue that it’s actually going to make you look worse.

I’d never turn down a fuck with someone just because they were short. But I might turn one down if he was massively paranoid about the difference between him and me. If he was uncomfortable about standing next to me, or hated it when I wore boots, or made me feel like I should slouch when I was around him – those are crappy things to do. Being short? That’s just who you are.

So dress yourself up, go out, talk to ladies, shatter people’s expectations, be great at your job, stand up like you mean it – love things, fuck things, do good in the world. And if anyone mocks your height or laughs at you when you’re with a taller woman, give them the biggest ‘fuck off’ you can muster. You’re always going to be short, but you should never ever feel small.

Dear tall women

Once I was in bed with a guy who whispered to me:

“You know, the great thing about small women is you can put them up against a wall and fuck them.”

I’m 5′ 11″ – a giantess of a woman – he wasn’t talking about me. Since then I’ve had occasional issues with my height – I used to find out how tall guys were before I went on dates with them so I’d know whether I was OK to wear heels. I’d slouch and I’d lean and I’d try to do most things sitting down. I’d refrain from dancing, I’d wear flats, I’d voluntarily make my life less fun just in case people judged me for being tall.

But since then, other guys have said other things:

“Fuck, you’re so tall. I fucking love tall girls.”

“Wear the massive pretty boots. Please?”

And I learned something utterly crucial: the best guys couldn’t give a flying fuck. Whether you’re five foot five or six foot six, a decent guy will fuck you anyway. Men don’t usually shag you because of your specific physical features – they shag you because you rock them with confidence.

So the next time someone says “wow, you’re tall for a lady” I want you to grab the nearest thing off a high shelf and fling it at their stupid sexist head. Find your biggest, stampiest pair of boots and crush them beneath the heel. Stand up straight, pull your shoulders back, and use your long, gorgeous legs to swing a kick in their general direction.

Because you’re massive, and brilliant, and you can take on the world if you want to. Don’t let that world make you feel small.

 

On the terror of being confronted by a circumcised cock

The first time I saw a circumcised dick I froze in fear. Not because it looked weird (although for the record: it did. Don’t judge me) but because I didn’t have a sodding clue what to do with it.

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On problems with rigidity

The best thing about corsets is that they mean you can eat pies and still look nice in silhouette. Winner.Warning: this entry was written back in 2011 when I was a bit of a shitbag and had some fairly trash opinions. I stand by what I said about not having a massive wank in anticipation of a date, but some of the other stuff is way harsher than I’d write if I were doing this post today.

If you have problems getting hard I will always say “it doesn’t matter.” You can hold me and fuck me with your hand, eat me out, beat me up, tell me I’m the sexiest fucking thing you’ve ever seen and it’s all just nerves/drink/etc and give me orgasms so explosive I can’t stand up for a while.

But it does still matter. It really does.

There’s nothing more satisfying than shoving your hands down someone’s trousers and finding something nice and hard to grip – rock solid. Sometimes, with particularly keen boys, it’s dripping. Hawt.

If I reach down and you’re flaccid it’s … disappointing. I’ll smile and I’ll kiss you and I’ll suck you until you regain some semblance of a hardon, but I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t disappointed.

It doesn’t mean you’re a bad person, and usually it’s a hurdle I’m willing to leap for someone filthy and funny and fuckable. But sometimes your reasons give me cause to not invite you back. Here’s the breakdown:

I’ve drunk too much

Fair enough: good excuse. But if you’ve drunk so much that you can’t get hard, why did you come back to mine? I wouldn’t invite you back if I’d glued my pants on and was incapable of sex, so why do you think it’s OK to make promises you know you won’t be able to keep? If you can’t fuck, don’t accept my invitation to fuck – you’ll only disappoint.

If you are in this situation, it’s far far better to snog me at the bus stop, grab my tits and growl something predatory into my ear, then tell me you’ll see me tomorrow or next week. That gives you time to sober up a bit, and gives me time to frig myself blind thinking about you in the meantime. Everyone’s a winner.

I’m old

Men of a certain age often develop problems with erectile dysfunction. I am not stupid. I also love older guys (there’s something about a dirty old man that makes me blush and get hot). So this is obviously an acceptable excuse.

It’s also, brilliantly, a problem for which medical science has come up with a solution. If you can’t get hard without help; get some fucking help. In my experience those sweet sweet blue pills get you hard enough that you’d confidently expect to beat a hormonal teenager in a boner-duel.

Massive disclaimer: I am not medically qualified and Viagra may have certain side effects that are bad for you. Please check with your GP, don’t just buy some random shit off the internet, yeah?

I’m on anti-depressants

These cause problems for a lot of guys. Am I particularly drawn to guys who are on anti-depressants, or is it just the case that a lot of people take them? Who knows. But I’ve been informed that, for some people, these can cause occasional impotence and anorgasmia.

That sucks, and you can have every ounce of sympathy that I have to spare at the time of you telling me this. But it isn’t going to make me acquiesce to any other kind of play. I’m not going to agree to fuck you if you’ve told me you can’t fuck – if there’s nothing in me there’s nothing in it for me.

I had a massive wank in anticipation of our date

This is not an excuse. Ever. If you do this I will be livid, and you don’t deserve my gentle “it doesn’t matter”s and soft blow jobs to try and make things work again.

Why, in anticipation of something sexual, would you want to forcibly expel all the sexual power from your body? Men often complain about the sexual power that women hold over them, with our lovely tits and sashaying arses that hold you in so much thrall. Well, you have that power over women too, and your power is generally manifest in a rock-solid dick that we’d like to sit on. So don’t get rid of it.

If you’re worried that you might get an erection under the table, get over that worry and think about what it means. If you were on for a shag anyway, your under-the-table erection is not a tragic, teenage thing; it’s an excuse for me to touch you under the fucking table.

Don’t get me wrong, I love a good wank as much as the next sex-crazed harpy, but if your onanism interferes with the sex you’ve promised me, I’m going to kick off. Understand that there’s a time and a place for it. Before you come out to see me is definitely not the right time. But kneeling on my stomach with your cock poised over my tits is probably a pretty good place.

 

Postscript: I know this isn’t the done thing for girls to say – we’re supposed to be totally fine with impotence and accept that there’s more to sex than just penetration. And there is, for most people. But for me, that stuff is all just nice window-dressing for the bit that actually gets me off – the bit where your rock-solid cock is in me. 

Call me whatever you like, and tell me I’m a bastard, but if you could only get off if I pissed on your face and I was unwilling or unable to piss on your face, I wouldn’t expect you to have sex with me anyway – I’d expect you to find someone who could fulfil your specific sexual needs. My specific sexual need is that you’re hard. Hard and in me.