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» Scarleteen Boards: 2000 - 2014 (Archive) » SCARLETEEN CENTRAL » Sexual Ethics and Politics » Consent: What Do You Need to Know?

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Author Topic: Consent: What Do You Need to Know?
Heather
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Hey, y'all.

I'm working on a big consent piece, and while I have a pretty strong sense of what folks need per information around it from how many times it comes up, I also wanted to do a specific check-in to be sure I filed your needs as best I can.

So...

...what do you want or need to know about consent: about what it is, how it can be sought, how it can be given, how it can be supported and finessed? What do you feel like you do want or would have wanted potential or actual sexual partners of yours to know about it that they didn't (or still don't)?

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Heather Corinna, Executive Director & Founder, Scarleteen
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Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has. - Margaret Mead

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Heather
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(Still working on this, so bumping it up.)

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Heather Corinna, Executive Director & Founder, Scarleteen
About Me Get our book!
Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has. - Margaret Mead

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coralee
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I would like to know how it can be sought and given. For example, I would strongly prefer it if someone initiated sex with me (or I initiated it with them) by pretty much saying "do you feel like having sex right now?". To which I could reply "hell yeah!" or "no, I'm not interested in that right now". However, some people prefer a more subtle approach. What bothers me about having sex without directly asking for consent, is that what if you or your partner is not really giving full consent, and you don't even notice.
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Cesario
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I'd kinda like to know why some people don't want to employ full consent. Where this idea that "stopping" and explicitly asking if you want to have sex being some sort of taboo mood killer came from.
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Heather
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Thanks, you two: this helps a lot! [Smile]

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Heather Corinna, Executive Director & Founder, Scarleteen
About Me Get our book!
Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has. - Margaret Mead

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Concealed Weapon
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When flirting, it makes sense to not ask every single time, because that would take some of the fun out of it. If you flirt and get rejected, it's usually just an awkward moment, and it's not harassment if you immediately stop. However, unwanted sex is a lot worse than just an awkward moment. There's a big difference between flirting and having sex.
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Heather
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When we're talking about sexual consent, we're not talking about flirting: we're talking about someone pursuing some kind of sex with someone else.

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Heather Corinna, Executive Director & Founder, Scarleteen
About Me Get our book!
Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has. - Margaret Mead

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pyro_angel
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After a conversation I had with someone I had recently met, I think some discussion of what to do/how to cope if you're reading about consent and discovering that someone (prev sexual partner) wasn't actually giving full consent in the past..
That's an awkward sentence, but I think it's an important point. I think some people might get partway through an article like this and go "Oh, crud, that (experience, relationship, etc) wasn't consentual... i had no idea" Do you think that's legitimate?

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Courtenay

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Heather
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Wow, Courtenay: do you mind making that a topic of its own? because I think that would be an amazing conversation, and I'd love for all of us to have it.

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Heather Corinna, Executive Director & Founder, Scarleteen
About Me Get our book!
Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has. - Margaret Mead

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DocJennifer
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Here's a funny, relevant, fresh comic about consent from an artist named Maisha: http://www.webcomicsnation.com/maisha/sextalk/series.php?view=archive&chapter=44232

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DocJennifer

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Heather
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Jennifer: Love that comic! She actually sent us those with permission to publish them here, I'm just so behind with everything, I haven't had the chance!

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Heather Corinna, Executive Director & Founder, Scarleteen
About Me Get our book!
Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has. - Margaret Mead

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Jill2000Plus
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What to do when your partner doesn't assert themselves when they don't want to do something/want to stop and it seems like they really want to do it but afterwards they tell you that they were unsure/experiencing physical discomfort? Obviously, you can take a break from sex, but how do you teach someone to assert themselves in sexual situations without accidentally raping them in the process while you're still working on it? I actually have aspergers, so I suspect that it's harder for me to read someone's responses, at least to some extent some of the time.

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Always knock before entering my room when I am in there alone, as I may be doing all sorts of wonderfully thrilling things that I'd rather you didn't see.

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Heather
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These are great additions, folks. Thanks so much for contributing, and I'll be sure they all get addressed in the piece.

But for now, Jill, there's a sidebar about shyness/passivity at this link that might help you out, the gender issues notwithdtanding: http://www.scarleteen.com/how_can_men_know_if_someone_is_giving_consent_or_not_0]How can men know if someone is giving consent or not

I'd also add that a sexual partner isn't the right person to teach a partner to assert themselves sexually, ultimately, because of having their own interests/agenda in that. Better someone learns assertiveness elsewhere from someone NOT wanting to sleep with them.

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Heather Corinna, Executive Director & Founder, Scarleteen
About Me Get our book!
Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has. - Margaret Mead

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Jill2000Plus
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My problem is I don't know who to direct my partner to to help them be more assertive, I keep telling them that their consent is really important to me and that what makes me happy is to respect their no and all the other important stuff, and I am going to tell them that I think maybe we should take a break from sex until they can assert themselves sexually, but I don't know if there's anyone else available who can teach them this stuff. Should I show them Scarleteen articles about the subject? Is there something else I could do?

[ 10-23-2010, 04:12 PM: Message edited by: Jill2000Plus ]

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Always knock before entering my room when I am in there alone, as I may be doing all sorts of wonderfully thrilling things that I'd rather you didn't see.

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Heather
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Again, YOU are not the right person to teach them to be assertive. All you can do is support them in being so, and if you feel they cannot assert themselves, decline sex with them until you DO feel they're able to do that.

It's not on you to direct them to where to go to work on this: that's self-care. Again, you can be supportive, but if they're not yet able to do this for themselves, that's pretty telling about a lack of readiness for this.

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Heather Corinna, Executive Director & Founder, Scarleteen
About Me Get our book!
Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has. - Margaret Mead

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pyro_angel
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Hi Heather.
I've got permission from the person I discussed it with to share his thoughts and words, so I guess I'm just wondering where the best place is for a thread?

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Courtenay

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Heather
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Abuse or this area, I'd say? Thanks!

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Heather Corinna, Executive Director & Founder, Scarleteen
About Me Get our book!
Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has. - Margaret Mead

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Jill2000Plus
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I just wanted to say that I talked to my partner and we've agreed to take a break from sex to give him as much time as he needs to work on this.

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Always knock before entering my room when I am in there alone, as I may be doing all sorts of wonderfully thrilling things that I'd rather you didn't see.

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Heather
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That sounds like such a good call, Jill. How are you feeling about it?

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Heather Corinna, Executive Director & Founder, Scarleteen
About Me Get our book!
Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has. - Margaret Mead

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Heather
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Hey, Jill, while I have you here on this topic, can I bend your ear a little bit about some things that might help (or might not!) for folks on the autism spectrum?

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Heather Corinna, Executive Director & Founder, Scarleteen
About Me Get our book!
Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has. - Margaret Mead

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Jill2000Plus
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I'm feeling good about it, it's actually a huge relief, not because I didn't enjoy having sex with him, but because I don't want to rape him, to clarify, most of the time things are good sexually between us (ie: mutually consensual and enjoyable), but the last two times we met up, one time he was unsure about something for infection control reasons (for the record I'm quite sure that what we were doing posed no risk, but of course if he's not sure he's not sure and so no sex) and didn't say until afterwards, we talked about it, and then the second time he was experiencing pain/discomfort and didn't say until afterwards. Thus my decision (I say my decision as opposed to our decision because it was a decision for me not to have partnered sex which is my choice, I talked to him about it because I want to support him in becoming more assertive and because I don't want him to think that I'm not having sex with him for a reason other than the actual one, but I wasn't asking for his permission).

Heather, I would appreciate your advice. It's sometimes hard to avoid worrying that I'm broken (being told you can't feel empathy will do that to you, even if you know it's not true, and when I went to a group for kids with AS when I was younger the non-AS adult running it said we were all selfish while our parents were in the room, which made me wonder if they even realised we were there and we could understand they were pathologising us even if we didn't have the word for it yet), but I really do care about understanding other people, particularly my boyfriend.

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Always knock before entering my room when I am in there alone, as I may be doing all sorts of wonderfully thrilling things that I'd rather you didn't see.

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Heather
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I was actually asking to pick YOUR brain about some issues, but if you feel like I could help you out, let's take care of you first. [Smile]

I probably don't have to tell you how mortified and sad I am you've had to listen to and live with those attitudes. I also probably don't have to tell you that I don't think you're broken. How all of our brains work is so, so different, but of course, some of us fall into groups of people who work similarly, some of which have names, some of which don't. Yours fall into a group with a name. That really does tend to be how I look at this stuff.

The nice part about having that name is that it can be a good starting place for some ways your brain may work that are (fairly, anyway) clear, and some ways other people who function similarly find things do and don't work for them. But those are starting places. Obviously, that's the general, but you're still Jill, whole person who may be a member of various groups and classifications, but who is also the unique individual you are.

That said, it sounds like you've been managing your sexual relationship really well, but that you're second-guessing yourself a lot. Does that sound right? If not -- or if so, but there's more -- want to fill me in on what you're worrying about a lot in this area?

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Heather Corinna, Executive Director & Founder, Scarleteen
About Me Get our book!
Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has. - Margaret Mead

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Jill2000Plus
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I wanted to clarify something: when I talked about how to not accidentally rape someone what I meant is that I don't know how to tell if someone can assert themselves sexually without having sex with them, this is not an excuse as I will choose to not have partnered sex if I'm not sure that someone can assert themselves sexually, but rather a question as to how to tell if someone has this skill, of course I can ask them, but what if they think/say they can assert themselves sexually when they can't? Again, if I'm not sure I won't have sex with them, but I don't know how to BE sure and if anyone can help with that I'd appreciate it. And I'm begging everyone to try not to link to any article that suggests that I'm less capable of being ethical than someone without AS of the same age (I've read articles that say this and it's not true).

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Always knock before entering my room when I am in there alone, as I may be doing all sorts of wonderfully thrilling things that I'd rather you didn't see.

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littlespoon
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This brought to mind a journal article I read for a uni course last year - it may be helpful (and it's an interesting read nonetheless!).

I don't know if you'll be able to access the full thing from here, but here's a link to the abstract: http://fap.sagepub.com/content/17/1/93.abstract

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This is our last dance; this is ourselves.

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Cesario
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quote:
Originally posted by Jill2000Plus:
I wanted to clarify something: when I talked about how to not accidentally rape someone what I meant is that I don't know how to tell if someone can assert themselves sexually without having sex with them, this is not an excuse as I will choose to not have partnered sex if I'm not sure that someone can assert themselves sexually, but rather a question as to how to tell if someone has this skill, of course I can ask them, but what if they think/say they can assert themselves sexually when they can't? Again, if I'm not sure I won't have sex with them, but I don't know how to BE sure and if anyone can help with that I'd appreciate it. And I'm begging everyone to try not to link to any article that suggests that I'm less capable of being ethical than someone without AS of the same age (I've read articles that say this and it's not true).

Do you feel that sexual assertion is qualitatively different from other kinds of assertiveness?

While the knowledge required for the "informed consent" standard might be different depending on what you're consenting to, I would think the basic ability to say "yes" or "no" would be the same whether you're talking about having sex or eating pizza.

Unless I'm missing something important, then it would seem that the test would be to see how effectively he asserts himself, communicates his likes and dislikes, in nonsexual situations.

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Heather
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Cesario: I think that's an excellent point, though I'd probably look at things a little more loaded than eating pizza, since unwanted or rough outcomes of that would be pretty minor compared to what they can be for sex.

So, maybe looking at how this person does with decision-making and consent with something like, say, their own physical or mental healthcare, boundaries with friends and/or family, work or school politics when big stuff is on the line or a situation is heavy, saying no in other kinds of social situations where people around really want a yes, etc?

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Heather Corinna, Executive Director & Founder, Scarleteen
About Me Get our book!
Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has. - Margaret Mead

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Jill2000Plus
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The problem is that because we see each other so infrequently we tend to spend time one on one when we do meet up, I haven't met any of his friends, he hasn't met most of mine (though he has met my mother), and I've never seen him at his work, etc. I absolutely think it's a good idea to look at how he asserts himself in other situations such as the ones you described, but at least at this time there are quite a few scenarios I don't know how he deals with.

I wonder if he may think it's best to avoid conflict by doing what someone else wants even if he doesn't want to do it, or maybe it's more that he's willing to put up with things he shouldn't have to in order to make someone happy. Maybe it's just that he wants to make me happy and thinks (or thought, I don't know where he is right now with this as we haven't talked for a few days, though even if he did say he thought it was resolved I'd still insist we take a break because I want to be sure and that will take time) that the way to do that is by prioritising my pleasure over his physical comfort (I've expressly told him I don't want him to do that and that he matters just as much as me).

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Always knock before entering my room when I am in there alone, as I may be doing all sorts of wonderfully thrilling things that I'd rather you didn't see.

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Heather
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Finally got this finished!

http://www.scarleteen.com/article/boyfriend/drivers_ed_for_the_sexual_superhighway_navigating_consent

I think I managed to cover most of your questions you posted here in it, but holler if you want to talk more!

As usual, thanks so much for the help!

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Heather Corinna, Executive Director & Founder, Scarleteen
About Me Get our book!
Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has. - Margaret Mead

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