Is there an all-encompassing ethic of sexual consent? Ozy Frantz lays down some ground rules.

Good Consent

Is there an all-encompassing ethic of sexual consent? Ozy Frantz lays down some ground rules.

A version of this article was originally published at No Seriously, What About Teh Menz?

Folks in sex-positive circles talk about “enthusiastic consent” as a good standard to keep everyone safe from violation of their sexual boundaries. It’s a nice idea, but personally, I use “good consent” instead. Enthusiastic consent is a problematic term. Lots of people consent to sex without enthusiasm for the sex itself: sex workers, people who enjoy pleasing their partners even when they don’t personally desire sex, even people who are trying to conceive a child and have sex when one partner is ovulating. Similarly, there are lots of enthusiastic people who still don’t have good consent: if you’re a high school teacher and your fourteen-year-old student enthusiastically consents to sex with you, you still shouldn’t have sex with them. Good consent is a way vaguer phrase, but it’s also more all-encompassing.

All parts of good consent are for everyone. We’re socialized into this fucking awful pursuer-pursued dynamic, where dudes are supposed to push as far as they can, and women are supposed to respect themselves by being the gatekeepers to their genitalia. (I think that sentence needs a lot of scare quotes, so here are some you can sprinkle throughout as you please: “””””””””””””””””””””””””””) This dynamic is bullshit. Everyone has to work on getting in touch with their own desires. Everyone has to make sure their partner is consenting.

Getting In Touch With Your Own Desires

The first step to making sure that you don’t do anything you don’t want in bed is to know what you want! You’d think that would be really easy, because you’d just be like “hey, does this turn me on?” and then you’d have your answer. Maybe it works that way in Liberated Sex-Pozzie Utopia Land, but unfortunately in the real world it’s more complicated.

We have this entire culture that’s telling people that there’s One Right Thing To Want. Dudes, for instance, are supposed to have a high sex drive, to like porn, to enjoy casual sex, to be attracted to thin young feminine large-breasted women, to want anal sex and public sex and rough sex, to not want pegging and ageplay and vanilla missionary with the lights out. If you’re asexual you’re broken; if you like drag you’re a pervert and probably a pedophile; if you’re a male submissive you’re pathetic and unmasculine; if you’re queer you’re destroying America. I don’t understand why people do this: what possible gain could there be from reducing the vibrant rainbow of human sexuality to two colors (the dude color and the girl color)? Those two colors look much nicer as part of the whole spectrum.

Holly Pervocracy has an awesome guide about learning what you want, but I think the most important question to ask yourself is how you feel about it. Does the idea of a particular sex-type thing make you happy, or nervous-excited like you’re riding to the top of a roller coaster, or at peace, or curious? Conversely, does it make you feel sad, or self-hating, or used, or degraded?

People don’t necessarily know what they want. That’s okay. Sometimes you don’t know! Even about things as fundamental as sexual orientation, it’s okay to identify as questioning. I think a lot of people feel pressure to be like “I’m a pansexual monogamous dom with a foot fetish!” when the actual answer is “I dunno. I think I might like feet.” You always have a right to be uncertain, to try things, to do something once and decide you hate it and never do it again, to go through phases, to change your mind.

Communicating With Your Partner

I think the biggest keyword about good consent is negotiation.

A lot of people think of negotiation as the bit where you sit down with checklists in a very formal way and are like “so, how do you feel about flogging?” But negotiation is a lot of different things! It can be snuggling and talking about all the sexy things you’d like to do together in the future. It can be whispering about how much you crave your partner’s hands down your pants as you It can be saying “a little to the left” when your partner is almost there, or it can be saying “ohmigodYES” when they do it right. It can be a casual discussion about the obvious hotness of tentacle dildos. It can be saying “what the fuck were you thinking?” when your partner thinks it’s a good idea to, without asking, bite your clit (this happened).

And, no, negotiation is not just for kinky people. Even with vanilla sex, your partners may be tremendously diverse– some might like having their nipples played with, some might not; some might like one technique in oral, some might like another; some might enjoy watching you masturbate, some might not. There is no way you can know unless you talk about it.

However you are negotiating, it is important to have a nonjudgmental attitude. If your partner really likes having sex on a trampoline while dressed as a clown, you do not have to have sex on a trampoline while dressed as a clown. You do, however, have to recognize that you’ve been privileged enough to learn your partner’s sexuality and that you respect and honor them telling you this. Also, you should refrain from calling their sexual turnons weird or gross or sick or slutty, because that is a really good way to keep them from ever telling you anything that turns them on ever again. (The same thing goes the other way, too: unlike myself as a teenager, you should not call someone uncool or prudish because they really don’t have any kinks. Not having kinks is just as valid as having kinks.)

Some people think negotiation is not sexy! I do not quite understand those people. I am not sure what’s not sexy about “I really want to suck your cock,” or about an extensive discussion of all the things that turn your partner on. Personally, I think it’s because people are scared to talk about their sexuality– hell, I am. You’re making yourself vulnerable to someone else, you’re afraid that they’re going to reject you… negotiation is fucking scary. But it’s necessary.

A final note: in discussions of consent, we always hear about the Mythical Straight Ladies Who Want Men To Push Through Their Boundaries. Those ladies can do exactly what everyone else who’s into noncon play does: negotiate ahead of time and set up a safeword and boundaries first. And speaking of boundaries…

Knowing Your Boundaries

This is the most important rule of boundaries: it is okay to set whatever boundaries you want.


Our culture (I blame rape culture) has a bunch of rules about what boundaries are the right boundaries. Kiss the cheek of your Aunt Mildred. Hug your friends. Have sex on the third date. Give him oral if he’s paid for your dinner. Eat women out or you’re a misogynist. But those rules are completely bullshit.

The only reason you ever have to have for not wanting to do something with your own damn body is “I don’t want to.”  Period. End of story. And if anyone guilt-trips you about it, they’re the asshole here.

Every person has the right to boundaries. Men have the right to boundaries. Higher-libido partners have the right to boundaries. Doms have the right to boundaries. Everyone!

It is important to make your boundaries as clear as you can. Let me be clear: this is a “do what you can” situation. There are lots of reasons– being a survivor, being uncertain of your boundaries, shock in the moment, not wanting to make a fuss, being shy or socially awkward, being sexually inexperienced– why someone might have difficulty expressing their boundaries firmly, and that’s okay. People do not have the right to violate you just because you froze up instead of saying “stop that, I don’t like it.”

Nevertheless, it is generally easier for other people to respect your boundaries if you have expressed them clearly and firmly. Captain Awkward has a lot of advice for people wanting to learn how to express their boundaries better.

Respecting Your Partner’s Boundaries

The first step of boundary respect is very simple: no means no. All kinds of no mean no. “Maybe later” means no. “You’re too drunk” means no. “I’m not sure” means no. “I’m not ready” means no. Some people seem perfectly capable of understanding that “I dunno, I’m kind of busy” means no when they’re asking someone if they want to play a video game, but are completely unable to work out that anything means no in sexual situations except signed, notarized paperwork properly filled out in triplicate and crossfiled with the Department of Justice.

The corollary of no means no is that only yes means yes. Now, some people have interpreted this as saying that only all partners continually chanting “yes!” counts as consent. However, there’s lots of things that “yes” can be. “Yes” can be actively participation in the sex—taking off clothes and initiating sex acts. “Yes” can be a prearranged safeword. “Yes” can be the various sounds of enjoyment people give during sex. “Yes” can be “fuck me hard, you sexy stud.” Whatever.

Sometimes you might not be certain if your partner is saying “yes”– perhaps they’ve gotten quiet and you’re having trouble reading their body language. In those cases, it’s best  (in my experience) to check in. I tend to say “hey, you okay, or do you want me to change something up?”, but there’s no set formula. Some people find that check-ins break the mood (…I don’t get those people either), in which case you should probably tell your partner that and accept that if you’re not enjoying what they’re doing you’ll have to speak up.

It can sometimes be hard to distinguish between negotiation and pressure that might lead someone to violate their boundaries, so I’ve written up two sample conversations to show the difference!

Pat: I really don’t want anal sex.
Robin: But whyyyyyy?
Pat: I just don’t.
Robin: That’s not a reason.
Pat: I think it might hurt.
Robin: Come on, anal sex doesn’t hurt.
Pat: I don’t know, I’m just not comfortable.
Robin: If you really loved me you’d have anal sex.

Pat: I really don’t want anal sex.
Robin: Okay. Do you mind if I ask why?
Pat: It just doesn’t appeal to me.
Robin: Do you think if we go slowly it might make you more comfortable?
Pat: I don’t know. I just think it’ll hurt.
Robin: I understand that. But if we do decide to do it I’ll make sure to go slow and use lube, and we can stop whenever you feel pain.
Pat: Okay, but I still don’t really want to.
Robin: I’m not going to lie, that makes me kind of sad, but I’m happy to do what you want.

Finally, in some circumstances, even enthusiastic consent is not good consent. For instance, you should not have sex with someone you have power over. Although the age of consent is contentious, because it’s drawing a big red line through a whole lotta gray area and because some teenagers are capable of consenting to sex with adults, it’s still better to not have sex with someone under the age of consent. The only people worse than teenagers at deciding if they’re mature enough to have sex is the adults that want to sleep with them. You can wait until they’re legal. Finally, the whole “drunk sex” issue is contentious, and I feel hesitant to comment on it, because my experience with alcohol is only slightly greater than my experience with traveling to Mars. However, I’m willing to state that there is a point at which people are impaired enough not to give good consent, and you should probably not have sex with them then unless you’ve previously discussed that drunk sex is okay.

Dealing With A Partner That Disrespects Your Boundaries

Dump the motherfucker already.

…Damn, you mean I have to provide actually helpful advice? Okay. Sometimes people violate boundaries by accident, mistake, or miscommunication. You can tell those people because they apologize a lot (whatever “a lot” looks like for them), feel bad about it, and stop fucking doing it.

However, if a person systematically, flagrantly, or repeatedly violates your boundaries… that person is not a good person, no matter how much they claim to love you. There is no justification for someone touching, kissing, or doing sexual things to your body without your consent– no matter how “minor” they are. You are not overreacting, and it is not your fault.

Obviously, there are a lot of reasons why someone might stay in an abusive relationship (and any relationship where your boundaries are systematically, flagrantly, or repeatedly violated is abusive). But please, I encourage you to consider breaking up with your partner and to talk to RAINN’s online hotline, or another hotline you find comfortable, even if you don’t feel like a survivor.


Photo— DavidMartynHunt/Flickr

About ozyfrantz

Ozy Frantz is a student at a well-respected Hippie College in the United States. Zie bases most of zir life decisions on Good Omens by Terry Pratchett and Neil Gaiman, and identifies more closely with Pinkie Pie than is probably necessary. Ozy can be contacted at or on Twitter as @ozyfrantz. Writing is presently Ozy's primary means of support, so to tip the blogger, click here.


  1. I found some parts of this article really quite worrying, especially the ‘right way’ conversation. It stinks of coercion, making your partner feel guilty about not having anal sex? Not cool. Coerced consent is not consent. Also the way you dismiss enthusiastic consent, saying some people have sec when they don’t want to and that’s fine. This is crap, and a disturbing example of normalizing sexual coercion.

  2. Janet Dell says:

    Consent: We have all heard of times when a woman will claim she didn’t consent because of some skulduggery that a man has done to here, as an example, putting holes in a condom.

    Here is I think a new one.

    In my local newspaper they have a story about a woman who is trying to have a man charged with sexual assault , why?. Because he had a vasectomy and didn’t tell her. Yup, that’s right, he had it years before they met but the basic premise is that she would not have had sex with him had she known he had a vasectomy because she was trying to get pregnant.

    Silly?, I think so, but you know what, it really isn’t that much of a stretch from the hole in the condom thing. Sexual assault is fast becoming defined by the ‘victim’ and not by the law or the perp (mens rei).

    • See, I know that when people look at that they see the sexual aspects of it. I see someone with a mental problem trying to utilize a court system that seems all to willing to take $$ for irrational cases and a media/PR system that thinks cases like this are great for selling papers.

      I don’t see sex. And I get why people do, but it’s so outrageous that any judge hearing it should slap her with a contempt of court/jail stay just for wasting his/her time and creating a standard that makes real victims of sexual assault have to work harder to be heard.

      Besides, that’s not assault…that would be false advertising? Misrepresentation? And should he then sue her for some kind of sexual assault as well and misrepresentation?

      Insane. It should be illegal to launch suits based on nothing but bullshit.

  3. wellokaythen says:

    I love the “scatter scare quotes how you please” bit where you put all the quote marks at the end. : – ) Ingenious. I’d like to steal that, if you don’t mind.

    Good point about everyone having boundaries and about the difference between enthusiastic consent and good consent.

  4. medic mind says:

    As adults we know that people have different levels of confidence and empowerment.. And experience including bad experiences.
    Regardless of individual responsibility, we know that a reluctant “yes” is not a “yes” and if our partner lacks the capacity to assert “no” for whatever reason- maybe just wanting to please us- then we have to be kind and unselfish enough to stop the nonsense. Then open a discussion for understanding that person and deciding if the roadblocks can be overcome…or not.
    This article makes some very serious and important points

  5. Nipple Shield Required says:

    “It can be saying “what the fuck were you thinking?” when your partner thinks it’s a good idea to, without asking, bite your clit (this happened).”

    Ouch. For some reason, more than one of my ex-girlfriends had got it into her respective head that it would be a good idea to, without prior warning or negotiation, up and bite my nipples in the middle of sex. What is with that (and why did more than one woman think it was a good idea)? A) they’re not candy, and B) that’s painful, not sexy.

  6. Janet Dell says:

    I also think when discussing consent that folks be clear if you are talking about LEGAL consent or personal consent because IMHO, they are two completely different things. There are those that want enthusiastic consent the letter of the law. I fully agree that on a personal level , enthusiastic consent is the only way to go BUT when it comes to legal consent, mens rea should be the standard.

  7. On the whole, I found the article interesting and pretty good. I have a few quibbles (The injection of the mythical rape culture for one) but overall, I think some good things were said. Now I just need to find myself a date so I can practice some of this good consent! rofl

  8. Anthony Zarat says:

    Article needs to be more clear.

    Case 1: Is article attempting to help people negotiate in the uncertain fog of gray-zone ambiguity? Article does good job of this. Helpful. I would say, very helpful, actually. Even insightful. And thanks for the gender-neutral perspective. Appreciated.

    Case 2: Is article attempting to arbitrarily draw a red criminal responsibility line through the middle of the uncertain fog of gray-zone ambiguity? Article misses the point. Dangerous. Not appreciated.

    Example: Clueless 19 year old college boy begs, nags and whines until clueless 19 year old college GF’s “maybe later” turns into a reluctant “OK”. Boy is a borish troglodyte (case 1). However, boy should NOT go to prison for 20 years (case 2).

  9. APPLAUSE APPLAUSE!! for the moderators!!

    This is a great article!

    • Andrew Martens says:

      Agreed! Consent is a sticky issue in society, and I think this article does a great job of discussing it.

  10. The Wet One says:


    The article’s discuss sounds like negotiating services with a pro. I’ve found it’s best to be open, honest and straightforward with all these things (both professionally and privately if you will) and get the A-OK to proceed. Everyone knows what’s going to to happen and there’s clear consent for all.

    Of course, in the professional arena, things tend to be far more direct and straightforward (after all time is money right?) than in the private realm. But even in the private realm, after you’ve done the dancing to the get to discussing the deal, it’s clearly necessary to have the discussion. Generally the rule there is global consent + sensitivity. I.e. I get a blanket consent to do whatever, subject to whatever reservations she makes and I’m sensitive to the vibe that I’m getting essentially all the time. Also, I try to keep it on the level and sensitive by touching her and feeling her essentially everyday. Thus I should have lots of feedback to go on as to whether consent is being withdrawn or not.

    It seems a simple thing, but jeez, made so complicated. Of course, in my country, it’s necessary. One moment’s misunderstanding or assumption essentially makes you criminally liable of sexual assault. I’ve often thought it wise to get consent in writing in a variety of circumstances. A bit of a kill joy to be sure, but being convicted and put on the sex offender’s list is a sure road to pariahdom. Better the kill joy than sexual predator label. You can certainly wear the kill joy (or weirdo) label better than you can the sexual predator label. Think I’m joking? Look at Herman Cain. It’s no joke.

    Better safe than sorry, I say.

    The Wet One

    • It’s unfair that men tend to get more on the legal side of things, because I know plenty of women that violate someone’s boundaries and we don’t nearly get the same amount of repercussions that men do. It’s good ole’ gender stereotypes that keep that in line. Hopefully we can change that. Men need to know it’s okay to have boundaries and to say no, and women need to be more sensitive and respectful of their man’s boundaries. The rules apply to everyone.

      That aside, I’m glad that there are pro negotiators out there. Good on you for respecting people’s wishes and boundaries! High five for you.

  11. GMP Moderator says:

    Eoghan, this is your last warning on derailing and creating a negative commenting environment.

  12. Sometimes I feel like you’re just trolling. Because this is a good article that discusses not only consent (and where does it say that only men are rapists in this piece?) but negotiation and good communication. Things that are helpful in ANY sexual encounter. Things that apply to both genders. Things that apply to me. A woman. I know my boyfriend’s boundaries, his concerns, and his interests in sex. I respect his boundaries because I don’t want to make HIM uncomfortable or violate his consent. And he does the same for me.

    Communication and negotiation are extended to other aspects of relationships as well. It’s not All About Rape. It’s about making sure nobody’s boundaries are being disrespected. This should not be a gendered topic. So why are you just dismissing this all All About Rape? Did you even bother to read the article?

  13. Noah Brand says:

    This article is very explicitly gender-neutral and based on the premise that consent is necessary between all people of all genders, and that violation can occur between anyone. The premise you are complaining about IS NOT PRESENT. You are lying about what is in the article; stop it.

    • Janet Dell says:

      Except that in real life, consent laws are not gender neutral in their application, perhaps in wording but not in the way they are applied.

  14. I don't know says:

    As a man who was raped, I respectfully ask that you stop playing the victim card every time someone mentions the subject.

    • Joanna Schroeder says:

      Eoghan, you’ve been asked respectfully a number of times to stop doing this. You’re monopolizing conversations, you’re minimizing the experiences of rape victims of both genders, and you’re prohibiting constructive conversation.

      As a Senior Editor and a moderator of the site, and with respect to commenters like IDK and others, consider this your last warning.

      • Joanna Schroeder says:

        Consider yourself directly warned.

      • GMP Moderator says:

        If you have concerns please contact any of the editors of the site or the CEO. We are aiming to keep the dialogue civil, positive, and open to many voices but we will not tolerate the repetition, derailing, or threadjacking from any commenter.

      • The problem you’re creating is that you’re not contributing to constructive conversation. Dismissal of an article about good communication as “rape propaganda” is not constructive.

  15. Consent is consent is consent. There is no good or bad consent.

    • There is a difference between good and bad consent. If I asked my boyfriend for anal, and he said “okay” but was visibly incredibly uncomfortable, did he really consent? I would say no. He “consented” in that he verbally okayed it, but there are many different reasons as to why he said it – he didn’t want to disappoint me, he might have felt like it wasn’t okay to say no, he might have felt like he’s supposed to like anal, he might have been embarrassed. There are a multitude of bad reasons why someone might “consent” to something they’re uncomfortable with. Should the person who feels like their boundaries are being violated speak up? Yes, by all means they should. But that doesn’t always happen, and it’s important to make sure that someone really is okay before proceeding with something. Hence good consent and bad consent. In the case of my boyfriend being uncomfortable with anal but consenting to it anyway, that would be considered bad consent.

      • “If I asked my boyfriend for anal, and he said “okay” but was visibly incredibly uncomfortable, did he really consent?”
        Technically, if he agrees to do anal sex, then he has consented. I hope you did not point a gun towards him, in that case it is coercion. Do not play mind reader, you know what he says and not what he thinks. If he is uncomfortable then he must say so. An adult person has an agency and he is responsible for all his choices whether he is comfortable with it or not.

        Like they say “if you choose not to choose, still you have made a choice.”

        • Of course I wouldn’t have pointed a gun to his head. That would really start entering the realm of rape.

          You are right. Technically, he has consented. He verbally said “yes”. But my point was that if he said yes but was still uncomfortable with it, then it was bad consent. He didn’t really want to do it. He made the choice, but I’m saying that he didn’t make a good choice on his behalf.

          I think that’s what the article is talking about. Of course he has agency, and of course I shouldn’t have to play mind reader. Of course he needs to say no. But there are a multitude of reasons why people don’t say no, and that needs to be addressed. The article was about helping people understand that it is okay to say no, it is okay to set boundaries, and it is imperative that sexual partners respect those boundaries. That is what good consent is all about. Just because your partner(s) ask you to do something, doesn’t mean you have to do it. That is the difference between good consent and bad consent.

          • “But there are a multitude of reasons why people don’t say no, and that needs to be addressed.”

            Do you want to have sex with you boyfriend or psychoanalyze him??? There are no solutions in life only tradeoffs. Why is he agreeing to do something with which he is not comfortable? That means he has low self esteem which you cannot fix.

            • Whoa rapses. This is a hypothetical situation. I’m not looking for a solution. We communicate and set our boundaries, anal is a no go for both of us. I was using this as an example. Hypothetically, if we hadn’t previously established that as a boundary, and I asked him to do it, and he was uncomfortable with that but consenting to it anyway, then this is an EXAMPLE of bad consent. Not that I’m saying that this is right or wrong or that I need to fix my boyfriend or something. I was using a hypothetical situation to illustrate what bad consent is! Seems you missed that.

              • I got your point “bad consent” refers to lying to yourself and saying “yes” when you want to say “no.” Even in that case the fault lies with the person consenting and not the other party.

            • Also, rapses, I’m in agreement with you. People do have the responsibility to speak up when they’re not okay with something. I’m not saying that they don’t or shouldn’t. People have to say what they want or need or are not okay with if they want to be happy or at the very least comfortable. And they shouldn’t get mad at the other person for not being able to figure out what they really felt.

              My point before was not that people should learn how to be mind readers, but that bad consent exists. And this article illustrated a good way to help prevent bad consent through learning to communicate and negotiate.

          • I agree with you, Steph. I can see why rapses is saying people have the responsibility/agency to not say “Yes” when they really feel “No.” In a perfect world where everyone always says exactly what they mean and never buckles to external influences or tells a half-truth, maybe we wouldn’t need to negotiate and define boundaries like this or have to qualify the concept of consent. That’s not the world most of us live in, though. I feel it’s much more responsible to have the kind of detailed negotiation the author has outlined here than to go by a black-and-white assumption of consent.

            To split hairs, yes, consent is consent is consent. But the *reasons* a person gives or denies consent can be qualified as good or bad. And then you get into the subjective nature of morality, that one person’s good reason is another person’s bad reason. But really, the context of a Yes or a No is what can make or break a relationship.

            • I just thought of a supporting example for my point – the recent article here and ensuing discussion about the nature of a “Sex Strike” – denying someone sex to carry out an agenda, especially a political one. As I recall, that idea was not well-received by many/most on this site. That would be a situation in which “No” means a whole lot more than “I don’t consent.”

              To flip it on the other side, consider the example of a person who consents to have sex with another person so they can later blackmail their partner – via hidden camera, gossip, holes poked in a condom, accusation of rape or assault, to name some examples. That would be a situation in which “Yes” means a whole lot more than “I consent.”

            • Yes, exactly. The context of the consent determines whether it’s “good” or “bad”. Which was my point. Thank you for saying it more clearly than I. Black and white consent can really screw up a relationship, which is why negotiation and discussion is needed. People don’t always know how to communicate their needs or fears or boundaries effectively, and might consent to something they’re not comfortable with as a result. I am in total agreement with raspes, I believe people do have the responsibility to speak up when they’re not okay with something. But that doesn’t always happen. Which is why something like “bad” consent exists. The solution is communication. Like pretty much any aspect of a relationship, communication and negotiation are the best tools to make sure everyone is good.

            • lecherous says:

              If you are making decisions bassed on what you think people are really feeling rather than what they say then your guessing. The idea of “good consent” is fictional because It implies it is your responsibility to second guess what somebody says about sex and frankly that sounds pretty rapey to me. Its also totally imposible to enforce, if anything if you force your partner to “proove” they really want sex with you more so than simply giving their consent then arguably its you who is being the jack ass forcing them to proove their sexual agency.

              • To be fair, we’re not talking about consent as defined and interpreted by law in court cases…at least, that’s not what I thought we were talking about. Sure, good and bad consent are not ideas that would likely hold up in court. That doesn’t mean they’re not worth examining. Consent is important to a sexual relationship for more than just the legal reasons.

                • Ok, returning after reading further comments and then reading your comment again in that context. I was not aware legal consent had entered the discussion. I only heard about this enthusiastic consent thing a few weeks ago and don’t know much about the underlying mini-movement and legislative goals associated with it. I would agree that it would be dangerous to bring the idea of good consent or bad consent into a courtroom, but I do stand by my statement that the nature of consent within relationships (personal consent, as some called it below) is worth examining and talking about.

              • Refusing to have sex with someone who you aren’t sure is fully and freely consenting is the opposite of “kind of rapey.” Having sex with someone that you aren’t sure is fully and freely consenting would, on the other hand, be “rapey.”

    • Rapses, I think this only works if you (gender neutral) don’t care about your partner’s feelings. Yes, people are supposed to be adults and explain their feelings.

      People are also supposed to be adults and pick up their socks from the living room floor. Sometimes they don’t. Sometimes I pick up afterwards. Because I love my partner and sometimes they’re weak and I pick up the slack. My partner does the same for me.

      In my mind, we’re talking about personal consent, not legal consent. And what kind of consent you have is determined in a lot of ways by what kind of relationship you have. Just based on what you said, I would not like the kind of relationship you’ve outlined in your comments—I want to be able to trust, to be vulnerable, to be weak, and to be imperfect with my partner. Sometimes that includes not knowing exactly how I feel (about sex or anything else) and sometimes that means not knowing how to express what I feel. Because I am imperfect, weak, and human—just like my partner. I like a relationship where we care about those qualities and make efforts to care for each other much better than a relationship that works as a business transaction at all possible moments. I don’t keep score with my partner on how many times they’ve screwed up the socks or the sex or the communication because I wouldn’t want them to keep score with me.


  1. […] going to have to convince people that sex is fundamentally private and personal, and that good consent, safety, and honesty are the only issues society has any business regulating or […]

  2. […] I have a non-academic piece I suggest everyone read: Good Consent, a piece published this week on The Good Men Project. It’s a great opinion piece that talks […]

  3. […] Good Men Project reprinted my Good Consent piece, all about how not to rape people. Share this:FacebookRedditTwitterEmailLike this:LikeBe the […]

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