Let's Talk About Sex, Baby

“Let’s talk about sex, baby. Let’s talk about you and me.” Salt-N-Pepa knew what they were talking about. They introduced the topic of consent in a fun, interesting way. However, the conversations surrounding consent have always carried stigma around it. It can be uncomfortable! And despite the hip hop hit, we still can’t seem to publicly share our experiences about consent without the stigma lurking in the shadows. So, I’ve decided to shed some light on this shadow. To talk about sex, baby. And talk about all the good things and the bad things that may be. 

Stereotypically, consent is a conversation directed towards the age groups of 13-25. But in light of the #MeToo Movement, I started thinking about what consent meant to people of all different ages and backgrounds. I mean hello! It’s not just teenagers and twenty-year olds having sex! So I interviewed three women and two men with different life experiences to hear what they had to say about consent.

“What does consent mean to you?”  

Female (73 years old)

“Consent is about communication and respect. If you’re at that point in your relationship, then I think it’s serious and not frivolous. And if you don’t understand XYZ, then don’t do it.”

Male (57 years old)

“Consent is that there is no doubt that you and your partner are 100% in agreement with anything that happens in the relationship.”

Female (30 years old)

“There seem to be many levels. To me, all levels of consent need to be confirmed. Is the person of sober mind? Did he/she say they wanted this? Are there any nonverbal cues that would indicate that the person is uncomfortable? If just one of these levels does not check out, then the person does not have consent.”

Male (21 years old)

“There are certain barriers. And it’s better when individuals take turns to initiate because a person who seems to just push, push, push can be scary. And, to me, that’s unacceptable and selfish to put your desires first.”

Female (18 years old)

“Consent is pretty simple. Make sure what you’re doing is okay with the other person. If they say it’s not, then stop, and don’t try to convince them otherwise. You shouldn’t be in a position where you fear what might happen against your will.”

Female (12 years old)

“Consent means giving someone the okay to do something or they give you the okay to do something.”

How do you communicate consent?

Female (73)

“I would start slow and maybe dodge the subject for a while. But once a relationship starts to escalate, I would work my way back and talk about it.”

Male (57)

“You communicate it verbally and openly. You have to have a conversation about sex.”

Female (30)

“I try not to put myself in bad situations. I’m very clear with my intentions, and I openly tell someone when I feel uncomfortable.”

Male (21)

“It’s a feeling. You can tell when there is a barrier and it’s awkward, which is hard. That’s why you need to talk about it. Then you have a good grasp on the situation and can get rid of that barrier.”

Female (18)

“You have to talk to the other person. But, you can also try to notice if they’re acting uncomfortable, and ask them if they’re uneasy. Just ask if they are okay.”

Female (12)

“Everyone should ask before doing anything. They could talk in person, on the phone, texting, or by social media.”

Any advice to people who find the idea of consent to be uncomfortable?

Female (73)

“Start with a conversation to kiss. It’s flattering if a young gentleman asks if he can kiss you. It’s respectful to ask for permission.”

Male (57)

“If you can’t talk about it, then don’t engage in sexual behavior.”

Female (30)

“Talk to other people. It’s always easier to get through once you open up to someone you trust and bounce ideas off one another.”

Male (21)

“If you have an inkling something is sketchy or not right, then address it and hold off.”

Female (18)

“If you are uncomfortable talking to that person about it, you shouldn’t be doing it in the first place. The conversation might start out awkward, but by the end of it you will both feel less concerned.”

Female (12)

“It should not be uncomfortable. It is only uncomfortable if you make it uncomfortable. Just don’t think too much about it and say what you think is best.”

 

After hearing all these different views regarding consent, it showed me how important this conversation is. At first, it was awkward interviewing people about sex. I mean, who wants to sit down in front of someone and literally say “Let’s talk about sex, baby.” Okay, scratch the baby part.

But that is precisely why these interviews were so crucial. Because modern society is trying to publicly desensitize the topic of consent. I want to help them get rid of the stigma. I want people to know that if I can have an article talking about sex article published, for everyone to see - then you can privately discuss sex, and consent, with your partner. Don’t ever feel awkward for talking about sex and giving your consent. You should be proud that you can discuss it! You should be proud you read an article about it, for cryin’ out loud! So go have those conversations - and talk about all the good things and the bad things that may be!

Written by Cecilia Forshey

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