Here’s how to incorporate affirmative consent into your sex life
“Consent isn’t just a checkbox to check – studies have shown it leads to better and more satisfying sex.”
Content warning: Sexual assault
Over the past few years, consent has become a hot topic across Australia. Thanks to the inspiring work of activists like Grace Taming, Brittany Higgins and Chanel Contoswe have seen an increase in funding for education and changes to the laws surrounding consent across Australia.
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Yet people still seem to view consent as a chore – a formality that can be skipped or pushed aside if the perfect opportunity doesn’t arise. But it’s more than that. It’s communication, it’s respect, it’s attention to the needs of your partner and according to recent searchit is a great way to increase pleasure and sexual satisfaction.
Consent Laws in Australia
Historically, those accused of sexual assault in Australia have been able to argue that an accuser did not actively ‘non-consent‘ – for example, they didn’t fight back or say no. When considering the four most common responses to trauma or danger are “fight, flight, frost and fawn‘, the idea of ’non-consent’ as the only proof of aggression concerns only about half of the survivors.
This black-and-white thinking that fight or flight are the only ways to say “no” creates a gray area where the shadows of doubt and danger bloom. It’s a space where silent responses to intimidation and manipulation are swallowed up by darkness. As the law begins to catch up with the reality of sex and consent, New South Wales and Victoria have developed affirmative consent laws. These laws require people participating in sexual activity to actively seek consent, through words and gestures, not just at the start but throughout the sexual activity.
Pleasure and Consent
But consent isn’t just a ticking box — studies have shown it leads to better, more satisfying sex. Research shows that “people who can communicate better and understand another person’s emotions are more likely to have a satisfying sex life”.
So how do you personally approach asking for consent and how can you discuss the importance of communication and consent with sexual partners? When asking for consent, a common fear is that it “kills the mood”. But in reality, if your partner or partners are so easily turned off, they can’t have been so turned on in the first place.
My favorite line when it comes to dating new people and talking to new people is “communication and consent are super important to me”. I slip it into the conversation with just about everyone I talk to. When someone asks me “What are you looking for?” I say “Someone I have a connection to, who I am attracted to, and who I share similar values with. Communication and understanding consent is really important to me!”
If they ask about my interests and say, “What are you passionate about? I answer them: “I’m really interested in politics and education. I would like to get into education about consent and respectful relationships. I think it’s a super interesting area and something I’m passionate about.”
Ask me if tomato sauce should be kept in the fridge or in the pantry and I’ll find a way to get back to the importance of consent and communication. That said, consent is still required, whether or not discussed before getting dirty. And while you may not be as overtly passionate about the subject as I am, bringing up the subject of consent in advance is just one way to smooth the transition and ensure that you and your partners can communicate with respect and honesty.
Whether you usually participate in chat or not, verbal consent can be extremely helpful in keeping your partners comfortable, safe, and happy. Does it feel good? Do you like it when I touch you here? Would you like me to take it off? What does it do? How do you want it? Show me how you want me to touch you. Can I get down on you?
These are just a few ways to ask for verbal consent during sex. It is anything that opens the lines of communication between partners and, more importantly, waits and listens for the response given. You don’t have to ask them to put on a suit and sign a contract, you just need to communicate with your partner and respect their boundaries. Create a safe environment where you can find out what turns them on and, if necessary, tell them to move a few centimeters to the left.
Although the clearest and easiest form of consent to understand is verbal consent, non-verbal consent can also be a helpful way to communicate with your partner in addition to verbal consent. According to Victorian government, non-verbal consent can include “a physical gesture like nodding or reciprocating motion like removing clothes”. While these are ways to suggest consent, it’s also essential to look for nonverbal cues of discomfort, such as body language and facial expressions.
Consent comes first
While nonverbal consent can be a great complement to verbal consent, if you want to have not only safe sex, but good sex, it’s always best to ask. Consent isn’t just a hot topic in headlines and political discussions, it’s a real-life action that, when implemented correctly, can result in greater physical and emotional bonding and pleasure. deep.
But when consent isn’t considered, it can have the potential to stain how people view sex and intimacy for the rest of their lives. Whether it’s the first time, the only time, or the hundredth time you’ve been sexually active with someone, consent always comes first (no pun intended).
If this article has raised issues and you would like to speak to someone, 1800 RESPECTS operates 24 hours a day. It provides counseling and support to people affected by sexual assault, domestic or family violence and abuse. If you are looking for additional therapeutic support, contact your Sexual Assault and Domestic Violence Center.