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To Consent...Or Nah...

The interviewer told me that I told them something different than any other person has said before concerning consent.

Last week I was interviewed by YES! Magazine, a magazine dedicated to various aspects of social justice, and the interviewer told me that I told them something different than any other person has said before concerning consent.


Consensual Non-Consent

Right now, we see and we know that consent is huge. People have done workshops on what types of consent there is and how to make consent sexy, but what some folks aren’t talking about is how most people aren’t a huge fan of step-by-step consent. I know that I’m not.

I don’t like people asking me about every little thing that has to do with my body. And I realize that’s just me. Some people need that consent because maybe they’ve been triggered by certain touches or maybe they just don’t like being touched. As an affectionate person, I also like people to touch me, so most times when people touch me, it doesn’t get highly noticed unless there is something unique or particular about the touch (such as who is touching me, if they are flirting by touch or it’s a place I don’t get touched often).

I wholeheartedly believe in consensual non-consent. For me, that’s a way of saying that you have access to my body until I tell you that you do not. It’s as simple as that. However, what that does require is my voice and speaking up for myself. Since I feel comfortable speaking up for myself and I feel comfortable with saying “no” or “don’t touch me there,” consensual non-consent feels perfect.

Be Aware of Your Partner

I constantly ask my friends how they feel about consent. Most of them tell me that they don’t like people asking them step-by-step when it comes to sex because it takes the fun out of the self-discovery. I agree with them. I like to be shocked or surprised and I like to discover new things about myself, so it’s no wonder that I don’t need consent every step of the way.

Sometimes consent can be non-verbal. I prefer this kind of consent, too. Show me that you are ready for me. I’ll show you that I’m ready for you. Maybe it’s a look in the eye or flirting hard core. Maybe it’s a sexy text or picture to show to you that I’m ready for you.

In the current social climate and #MeToo movement, it’s important to note that consent should be a part of your everyday life. Even though I forget to get consent sometimes (I automatically touch people within arm’s reach), it’s still important to realize what you do and correct yourself. Once you get that consent, you are on your way to having a healthier and happier communication style.

If you are like me or if you are like one of my friends, maybe step-by-step isn’t for you. While consent is always necessary, maybe the better way to get your needs met is to address it in a way that states that consensual non-consent is your consent style and that you feel confident enough to speak up. If you don’t feel confident to speak up, come talk to me. Cheers to your sexual success!

Marla Stewart

Marla Renee Stewart, MA is a professional sex, intimacy and relationship coach and sex educator. Not only is she a lecturer at Clayton State University, she is also the co-founder of the Sex Down South Conference and the Sexual Liberation Collective. Gaining her reputation for being "The Sex Architect", she created Velvet Lips to empower people of all ages to embrace, educate and enjoy their sexuality and their sexual lives. She has studied human sexuality for more than 16 years at San Francisco State University and Georgia State University, respectively, and has expert knowledge in a wide variety of subjects. She has published academic articles and continues to do sexuality research. She has conducted workshops at conferences, not-for-profit and private organizations, as well as universities in the Atlanta area. She has been featured on many radio shows, documentaries, books, magazines and has been invited to speak at Universities around the country. She also sits on the board for the Atlanta Harm Reduction Coalition and SPARK Reproductive Justice Now!
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