To consent or decline?

For discussion of issues pertaining to sexuality. Warning: Topics within this forum may contain frank discussion of a sexual nature.
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To consent or decline?

Postby Clarity » Tue Jun 07, 2011 5:19 pm

How do you--asexuals, gray-asexuals, and sexuals all included--decide whether or not to consent to (or propose) a given type of sex with a given partner at a given time? In my life I've suffered from partners assuming consent wasn't necessary--and that communication wasn't either. I never want to end up in that situation again.

I'm gray-asexual, and I've also initiated sexual activity that ended up miserable pretty much immediately: It's difficult to tell when you're not aroused enough when you're never really aroused, and I wasn't too good at asserting myself and saying, "Hey, this is boring or painful for me, I'm trying to find any hint of sensation that might be worth feeling or I'm detaching altogether." I also didn't know that just enduring these situations, whether I "started" them or wasn't even asked (and I suspect I'm also guilty of not asking for verbal consent :( ), would leave me with disastrous emotions later (disconnect from the partner, like the relationship and maybe every relationship to anyone/anything I'd ever had had been slashed apart; flashbacks, bouts of crying, and castration fantasies lasting for months).

Someone mentioned on another thread that Apositive was created in part for asexuals who thought that compromising and doing sexual things with a partner was a good thing. But from my personal experience, it can also be a very, very bad thing--and there's also some unfortunate historical/cultural issues with one partner being seen as an object or possession for the other's gratification, with women often not expected to enjoy intercourse--with men commonly complaining their partner just lies there, and girls feeling happy if their first time doesn't hurt too much and was consensual. I think that sex should be something that both partners want and enjoy as fully as possible and aren't doing out of a sense of obligation or duty or that they'll be worthless if they don't satisfy their partner--but I also think that if someone isn't hurt by a sexual activity and is communicating with their partner and thinking about what works best for them, it's okay to engage in an activity that isn't mind-blowing orgasmic pleasure for all involved.

What someone gets out of sex can also vary greatly: some people orgasm, some get some other type of sexual pleasure; some get an emotional boost, some get really aroused; some like the touch most of all, and so on. People can negotiate different types of sex, like one partner masturbating in the other's arms. There's a lot of room to figure out what might work for everyone--but how do you figure that out?

Right now I don't really *want* to figure what might work for me or explore my sexuality. I've *never* actually wanted to explore what turns me on, and sometimes I feel like I'm wrong for that, like I'm passing up something that's, well, a duty. To be sexually liberated. To be ready for sexual relationships. But I guess I'd answer my own questions with, "From experience and from checking in without myself when I'm not in the heat of the moment and don't feel like I have to please a partner, I really don't want to consent to anything. I don't want to figure out what might work for me. I'm totally open to that changing in the future, but this is where I am now and where I have been for a while and it feels good to acknowledge it."

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Re: To consent or decline?

Postby ghosts » Wed Jun 08, 2011 4:56 am

I think that if you're not interested in consenting to any sexual activity, then you have your answer, right? It's really based on what you want to do & how you're feeling. So if you don't want to do anything, you shouldn't have to do anything. If you're in a relationship with a sexual partner, however, that could mean that they decide to end the relationship - sexual compatibility is important for a lot of people.

I guess I haven't had the difficulties that you've had, and I actually enjoy sex, even if I'm not often in the mood. The only way I figure out what works for me & what doesn't is by trying different things. If something is painful, I would just say so & we'll move on to something else. If there's something I like, I express that to my partner in various ways. My partner does the same.

So, I consent to sexual activity if I feel like I'm up to it at the time - same thing with initiating.

Compromising & doing sexual things is only good if that's truly what you want to do. Not everyone wants to or is capable, & no one should feel like it's necessary.

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Re: To consent or decline?

Postby ParaLLL » Thu Nov 15, 2012 12:27 am

I think that when people refer to compromising with a sexual partner, it doesn't mean pure 'they want to have sex six days a week, I don't want to at all, so we'll have sex three times a week.' I tend to assume that there's a lot of implied assumptions: 'compromising is good, if you can do so without hurting or upsetting yourself, if your partner knows it's a compromise and won't assume they can convince you to do more, if you....' It's late, I'm out of specific examples, but I tend to read it like that. Not so much "compromise is good" as "being open to compromising is better, than automatically demanding that your sexual partner give up all sex for you even if you wouldn't be hurt by compromising," in which case, if the person would be hurt or upset by having sex, then they shouldn't compromise (or should find a different way to do so).

That... seems like it's still not entirely clear, but it's 3:30 AM so I'm probably not going to improve it by repeating myself more.