This is timely, as currently most of the search engine hits bringing visitors to this blog are people googling on “consensual sex contracts“. But they’re not leaving comments. Why not?
Seeing as how my view is that the various “consensual sex contracts” on the market are legally invalid, do nothing to protect against coercion, and reek of a perceived male entitlement to “complete the agreed sexual act” no matter what (literally attempting to contract against withdrawal of consent), perhaps the searchers simply don’t like what they read. Perhaps the people googling on “consensual sex contracts” find my conclusions disturbing because they wish that consensual sex contracts really were some simple answer to having the sex they want, without fear of being accused of rape, that simply involved two people signing a piece of legally-binding paper.
You want to know the way to have the sex you want without fear of being accused of rape? Actually make a proper effort to understand the deeper issues surrounding consent to sex and consensual sexual relations. It’s not just “let’s fuck – yes or no?” because consensual sex is an ongoing negotiation between two (or more) people about pleasure, autonomy and safety, not an irrevocable commitment to your orgasm.
“Consexuality” is a combination of the words “consensual” and “sexuality.” It refers to a standard of conduct that prioritizes sexual safety and autonomy over sexual access and satisfaction. This “First-do-no-harm” standard means that any sexual contact without (fully informed) consent is sexual violence.
While it may be argued that this product helps to raise the issue of consent and is therefore a positive development, it may also be argued that a signed legal contract does nothing to change the chances that coercion and violence were used to obtain sex.
The Consexuality Creed folks still want you to sign a piece of paper, but it’s a promise to yourself to hold yourself to an ethical standard, not some legal boilerplate that means you don’t have to think about consent any more. Sorry, you have to think about consent whenever preparing for or engaging in sexual contact, because that’s the right thing to do.
Prioritise sexual safety/autonomy over sexual access/satisfaction. Nobody’s pleasure outweighs the safety and autonomy of others. Sexual contact is a privilege, not a right.
In the case of the T-shirt above, let’s unpack the problems (beyond merely the obvious that finding rape jokes unfunny is not a sign of being humourless):
* Someone not saying “No” is not tantamount to them consenting to sex.
* Rendering a person incapable of saying “No” either through fear, force or incapacity is not tantamount to them consenting to sex.
* Pretending to accept a “No” to sex, then deliberately incapacitating a person with alcohol to knock them out so that they can’t repeat their “No” to sex, is fundamentally no different from hitting them over the head to knock them out and raping them.
Consent is not merely the lack of “No”. Proper consent is not even a grudging, fearful or otherwise manipulated “Yes” to another’s sexual access and another’s sexual satisfaction. Consent, truly consensual assent, is an enthusiastic “Yes” to mutual, autonomous, safe pleasure.
Addendum: The enthusiastic assent doesn’t have to be explicitly verbal, especially in ongoing relationships, despite my emphatic “Yes” above. It really is obvious if a partner is enthusiastically participating in sex or not, and as the Consexual Creed says, “if in doubt, pull it out” and start talking.
(And yes, I am googlebombing myself on the earlier consexual sex contract posts. If people want to read about consensual sex contracts, I want them to read this sort of stuff, not the stuff from the scamming shysters selling the things)