While I was at the Queeriot event in Kingston this July I had the opportunity of going to a workshop on sex positivity, it’s main discourse was on deconstructing our notions of sex due to the ingrained Christian, heterosexual, gendered, monogamous and vanilla (CHGMV) beliefs of sex. Here are some key points and notes.
Sex can be defined as: sexual intimate involvement with someone.
Not just vaginal penetration from a penis.
Negative messages around sex confirm patriarchy and paternity.
There is a lot of pressure to have heterosexual and gendered sexual experiences, leaving many people to gender themselves in ways they may or may not identify with.
Many people experience shaming from the ‘abnormality’ of their sexual experiences and choices, there is a common preconceived notion that one’s sexual experience only counts if it’s CHGMV, which is false.
Sex negativity also has the impact of trivializing queer sexual experiences.
Many people who are part of the LGBTQ community feel they are othered, which forces them to educate; which was expressed at the workshop to be annoying, often insulting and simply a very energy consuming task.
The idea of a circular pronoun check was suggested. Brilliant I say. It’s better to call someone by what they identify with instead of potentially insulting someone.
How do we bring about sex positivity? Personally you can keep an eye on the language you use, it is a process and it’s good to have a group of people who can hold you to that. You can so this by asking what pronoun someone identifies with though this may single the individual out and may not be an appropriate setting to ask. During sexual engagements you can verbally initiate sexual actions, therefore leaving an open dialogue with you and your partner(s)’s level of comfortability. You can do check ins during intimate play. It’s important to redefine sex and learn more about it and the different types. Be open and speak easily about sex, or at least try. Take responsibility and talk to people if they need to be called out on something, it is important to do this with sensitivity because shaming and alienating someone is not the goal. Be assertive and direct with your language. Learn more ways to open yourself to being comfortable with talking about sexual topics. Above all know your needs and speak your needs. It is also important to further your awareness and commit to change. Make sure that you spread the word that in sexual assault & abuse, molestation, and rape cases it is not the victim’s fault. It is the perpetrators responsibility not to pose sexual actions upon someone. It does not matter what someone looks like, what they wear, what they say, acts of sexual violence are not requested. Fantasy and role-play with proper communication can be an exception but there are fine lines. Many people blame themselves for sexual violence cases or simply will not report it due to what society projects as the cause, ex. “I was wearing a short skirt and was really drunk, therefore if I tell anyone they will say it was my fault.”
Consent is the presence of saying “yes” to a sexual encounter and in some fantasy and role-playing cases it can also be “no” in this case a safe word is necessary also checking in on your partner is important too. Safe words should be easily remembered, a good example that was given at the workshop was, “I think someone is at the door,” and at that point the couple would stop what they were doing altogether or assess the situation and communicate their needs. In the case of gags a non-verbal safe-action would be necessary. It is also important to be responsible for checking in on where your partner(s) are at when you’re engaging in sexual activities, an example that was mentioned was the red, yellow, green method. Red meaning let’s stop this all together, something could have been triggering or really uncomfortable; yellow meaning we need to check up on things and make sure what we’re/you’re/I am doing is making you feel comfortable, this could be used when trying something new; green simply means all is well! If you come into a red zone situation it is important to know what you need at that point and to verbalize it, ex. you may want your partner(s) to hold you and comfort you, or not to touch you, not talking for a little and then going through it later, or talking about it right then, asking for a tea, telling your partner(s) to not ask you why you requested to stop. When a red zone situations occurs it is important to do a follow up on your partner(s). You cannot tell consent fully through body language, that is why communication is very important.
Grey Rape also falls within consent. Grey rape in my best understanding is when you say no or feel as if you have displayed that you do not want to engage in sexual activity but are coerced into it. The “no” has been recognized but is pursued by the other. Thus someone making you feel guilty for not having sex with them, then having sex with them to fulfill that guilt would be considered grey rape. I feel it is more of a mental question for the victim and a control tactic for the other. Though it is a slippery slop because grey rape can be confused with playing hard to get and what not. If it leave you feeling shitty after then it is most likely not understood by your partner(s). But you can feel shitty for also making conscious clear decisions. Nonetheless I think that many people experience this notion of grey rape often and think it is very present in casual sexual activity, as well as in relationships.
Some last quotes on consent that I found interesting…
Consent should be enthusiastic
“Yes” need to say consent, not an absence of “No”
If you have any input/questions, ask me! :)