By Max Kronyak
Sexual encounters are different for everyone. Through my experiences I have become more aware of my own feelings and more conscious of my partners’. I’d like to talk about those feelings, in hope that our community benefits.
The research my team and I have done regarding consent while working on the Yes! Always campaign reveals many feel there’s an obvious stigma around the conversation of consent, and as a result, the request for verbal consent is avoided by men. Additionally, women may feel uncomfortable saying yes or no during sexual encounters.
A friend of mine recently said, “If we take each other’s clothes off, or if she’s already in the process of (insert graphic sexual experience here), do I really need to interrupt the moment to formally ask, ‘Can we have sex?’”
I get it. That moment can feel awkward and make a man skeptical about whether or not he should move forward with the encounter. Men most likely want to avoid any form of embarrassment when in the bedroom.
However, in my experience, I’ve gotten praise from partners as well as a confidence boost when affirmative consent is requested first.
Now, I don’t ask for consent the moment prior to being inside, on top of or with a mouthful of my partner’s nether regions, but rather after confirming a mutual desire to do so.
As a guy with a sometimes socially awkward approach to talking to women, I’ve used consent as a way to set a new foundation of understanding. The conversation can sometimes arise between breaths of make-out sessions in movie theaters, libraries or 40,000 feet above ground (who doesn’t want to have a consensual mile-high experience?).
I tend to lean toward the conservative side of the political spectrum, and after this past week of working on the Yes! Always campaign I’ve been approached by many friends and classmates. They’ve asked why I’m so energized by this subject and if it challenges my approach to social issues. It’s really all about using sex in your conversations. It doesn’t need to be presented in a social media status or hashtag but in an easy, one-on-one conversation.
All I’m saying is that contrary to what my friends and popular culture might say, my experience with acquiring affirmative consent has been pretty romantic. I’ve found the romance during conversation in the middle of a Meg Ryan movie, Bible camp, the DMV and the Humane Society.
Don’t be afraid to tell someone you’re into them, and don’t be ashamed to spark dialogue about sex and sexual preferences. Your sex life will thank you, and it will ensure your sexual advances are received graciously and consensually.
The project I’ve been working on the past few months has made me more aware of just how important consent between sexual partners is. The project is called Yes! Always. The campaign aims at getting college students to ask for consent while empowering their own bodies, using consent-driven and sex-positive messages. Please visit YesAlways.org to learn more.
Max Kronyak studies journalism. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org and on Twitter @MaxKronyak.