Diatribe | Issue 5

“Just ask” – two words that seem so simple. In student cities such as Dunedin, sex always seems to be the topic of much consideration and is often acknowledged as just sex. The random one-night stands and “friends with benefits” ease the meaning and pressure surrounding sex and have subsequently changed the way we define our sexual relationships.

In New Zealand studies highlight that 1 in 4 women in a lifetime and 1 in 20 men in a lifetime will experience some form of rape or attempted rape. This information reinforces the need of more education and awareness surrounding the area of consent. The following information gives you exactly that.

The word consent in its most simplistic form means permission. How do we get permission? We ask. It is as straightforward as this. Regardless of who your partner is; your boyfriend, girlfriend, sex buddy or person you met at the bar 20 minutes ago, gaining consent is essential for every sexual experience.

The way consent is defined seems so basic and many people tell me that of course people know when someone wants to have sex. The statistics unfortunately do not seem to agree. It seems obvious that people want to have sex with people who actually want to have sex with them. Yet there is much debate over the so-called “grey area” when alcohol comes into play.

Sex is either consensual or non-consensual. Not being sure does not mean you want to. Being in a position where you are not able to freely, willingly and enthusiastically say yes, does not mean you want to. And feeling as though you are unable to say no due to pressure or force, does not mean you want to. Pretty much the easiest way to know if you potential partner wants to have sex with you, is to ask. Asking someone’s permission takes at the most 5 seconds (just as long as a lot of actual sexual experiences) and is as easy as saying “are you sure?” or “do you want to?”

Due to the fact lots of people have sex purely for the sex, our sexual partners may not be that close to us (I mean not emotionally close to us). Because of this, your potential partner may not be sure what you want or how far you want to go. Just because you say yes to one type of sexual experience, does not mean you consent to everything. You can change your mind. This leads to another aspect of sex that is completely ignored in the movies, yet is proven to make your sexual experience much more enjoyable. Communication.

Talking about what you and your potential partner are going to do, want to do, or what position is best to try out makes sex actually worth your while and can be quite a turn-on. Once gaining their consent, keep the conversation going and do not be afraid to tell them what you like and what you do not like.

Negotiating sex is an empowering way to take control of your body and is a way to practice making decisions for yourself. Just remember to respect your partner’s decision and if you are not sure, just ask. Because if your partner hasn’t said yes, how will you make them say yes, yes, YES!

From your friends at Rape Crisis
This article first appeared in Issue 5, 2012.
Posted 4:26pm Sunday 25th March 2012 by Rape Crisis Dunedin.