Creating Consent

One of the main problems I think we have in the community is the metaphor we use for consent. We talk about consent as if it is either a static object (“I gave her my consent”) or a territory (“He violated my consent”).
The more I think about it, the less I think that’s accurate. I think it might be better to think of consent as something that is created, constantly, between two people. Whether it is someone you met on a sex dating site or leaning against the rail of a leather bar or a blind date, you are always creating the level of consent.
You and I, right now, are creating consent, albeit at separate times. As I type this at the airport, I am consenting to have you read these words. As you read this sentence, you are consenting to read them. At any time you can revoke consent…and stop. I, on the other hand, am kind of stuck; even if I remove the post, odds are you could find it in caches or simply in your memory.
You see what I mean? Consent is not always equal, no matter how much we may want it to be. The consent that you and I created together in our last scene is gone; the new one we create for the next scene may be similar, but it is not identical, any more than we can ever be the same person moment to moment.
Why is this important? Because it reminds us that both of us have responsibility where consent is concerned. It’s not something we can just take out and hand randomly, and it’s not a place we can rest and ignore. It needs to be cultivated, cared for, attended to…and ultimately, that means we’ll also be able to enjoy it.

6 thoughts on “Creating Consent

  • I have a question about blanket consent. Also known as consensual non consent within an Owner/property relationship. This isn’t something I gave quickly or lightly, but it is a huge factor and bedrock in our relationship. It’s not something I’d ever give someone I was just dating, or hadn’t known long, of course, or something I would ever give to anyone who wasn’t my Master and hadn’t promised to own me for life.

    So, my question: Have you seen these sorts of relationships in the community? How did it go? What do you think of them?

    • Yes, I have seen many of them, and even been in versions of them. Basically the idea is that yes, you do have a safeword…but that safeword is also the end of the relationship. It’s an immense responsibility for both parties, and it has been both a joy and a difficulty in the relationships where I’ve had it. I’ve also seen it abused on occasion, and seen it beautifully realized in others. I don’t think it’s inherently bad – it’s just difficult.
      Frankly, I see it much like enlisting in the Military. Once you do, you are giving the government control of your body, up to and including death. Can you get out of it? Yes, but only through either serving out the term of your enlistment or suffering extreme penalties (including death).
      For some that is an honorable servitude. For others it isn’t. I think the same applies.

  • *nods* One of the reasons I like the term ‘active consent’ is the focus on consent being constantly present throughout interactions.

    I’m not sure I”m following you on consent not always being equal. …. like it doesn’t have the same weight for both parties…. or does equal in this case mean situationally equal?

    • What I mean is that it is not a quid pro quo, nor are the abilities to create consent always equal. So not only is it mandatory that just because you’re willing to consent to kissing that therefore I must. Also, I may have less ability to clearly express what I am comfortable with, or even be aware of possibilities. You, on the other hand, may be immensely more experienced and be able to help me express myself more clearly…or wait, are you coercing me?

      I think that’s my main point: it’s a messy thing. In the ideal world of Consent Culture I think there’s an idea that there are two people, both of completely equal self-awareness and communication skill, who can precisely define what they want to have happen in a scene including how they’re going to feel about it. I don’t believe that’s the case, and I think that consent has to be understood to be more complex and varied than that.

  • In my mind, I see consent is the manifestation of Trust. We allow someone to share an experience with us and trust them with our well-being based on skill level, character and intent, regardless of the role any of us takes.

    As we earn trust with our partners, consent takes on a more fluid characteristic. It ebbs and flows based on moods, bodily limitations knowledge and experience. It can be withdrawn for a time, not always because it was violated but perhaps because I’m too stressed or sick to properly understand what I’m agreeing to, and then restored when circumstances change again, as they constantly do.

    I love this idea that consent can be (needs to be?) developed and maintained. It certainly falls into the way I think regarding my relationship and folks I share experiences with.

    Thanks for sharing.

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