When I was introduced to the YES! Always campaign last semester, I thought it was a great resource for victims of sexual assault. It seemed like an entertaining, preventative measure to crack down on the far-too-often sexual assault cases on college campuses nationwide.
I’ve been in a committed relationship for six, going on seven years. I never felt the idea of consent applied to my boyfriend and me, or any other couples in committed relationships for that matter. I thought consent only mattered when people were too drunk to give it. How could my boyfriend and I ever sexually assault each other? Now that I am part of the YES! Always team, I know that sexual assault is possible even in the most committed relationships. I also realized that the idea of consent is definitely present in my relationship.
According to Nevada’s Sexual Conduct and Campus Safety Survey (2014), 6 percent of men and 5 percent of women in relationships reported unwanted sexual contact with their current romantic partner.
These numbers prove that consent is a two-way street. My boyfriend has the same right to consent as I do. If he’s not in the mood, then I should never push him to do something that he’s not up to doing, and vice versa.
I am fortunate that the YES! Always campaign helped me to make this realization. Though I have never felt forced to have sex, I now feel empowered to take control of my own body in the bedroom. I know that it’s completely acceptable to say “yes” or “no” depending on how I feel and it doesn’t make my relationship any less intimate.
Getting consent doesn’t have to be awkward, and it certainly doesn’t have to ruin the moment. Just asking each other, “Does this feel good?” or “Would you like to try…?” gives your partner the chance to consent. If they’re not up to it, then you stop, or do something else that you both feel comfortable doing.
With that being said, I do think it’s harder to say “no” to sex when you’re in a relationship. When you love someone, you want to make him or her happy. In all honesty, you need to be selfish when it comes to your body. You should never have sex solely for your partner’s sake.
On the other side, it’s important to stop asking after receiving the first “no.” Don’t try to sweet talk your partner into doing something they don’t want to do. Anything after the first “no” is considered unwanted sexual contact. Naturally, you’re more comfortable with your significant other, therefore, you feel more comfortable to continue asking for sex until you get what you want. This puts your partner in an uncomfortable position, which will probably lead to subpar sex. It’s really not worth it.
Consent is for everyone. The YES! Always campaign is for everyone. Everyone has the right to take charge of his or her body at any stage in a relationship. Have a conversation with your partner about consent and promote a healthy sexual dialogue. It will make your relationship stronger, and it will empower you as an individual.
Cassandra Breazeale studies journalism. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org and on Twitter @TheSagebrush.