Very recently I’ve been considering the topic of ‘consent’, how to give it and especially how to exercise my right to refuse.
I had Sex Ed at school just like everybody else. They talked about the technicalities of how to get the job done, the risks of infection and handed out a box of tampons to the ladies.
What we didn’t talk about was consent. But we should have.
In a different life you could have considered me to be promiscuous, loose, trampish- however you want to define it. I was a little girl, pretending to be a woman.
I’ll spare you the gory details but what I can share is that looking back at all my sexual experiences I’ve realized that 80% of them would not be considered consensual by my new standard.
Hindsight can be a bitch.
I now realize that flirting with a man, isn’t a sure sign to him that we’ll sleep together, kissing him doesn’t mean he has a right to my body, and worst of all, feeling like I owe it to him. A trade or payment for his kindness, his attention, his time or even the $7 drink he chivalrously bought me.
Mentally I must have known it, because after each experience I was left feeling filthy.
I said yes. But I meant no.
We’re taught to be polite, to be caring, to be considerate, be thoughtful, be friendly. You want people to like you, and it’s these ingrained teachings that leave our young women vulnerable to guilt.
“But I thought you liked me?”, “Aren’t we having a good time?”, “Come on, it’ll be fun”, “It won’t take long”, “Don’t you love me?”
Guilt is what confuses consent and nobody teaches us how to deal with that feeling.
Now I don’t have an answer, I’m still working it out and I know women in their 40’s still figuring it out.
I do know that we can spare our daughters, our sisters, our friends and ourselves if we just started having the conversation.
It weighs heavy that my story is not unique. That these thoughts and feelings have been felt by millions of women the world over. That is a tragedy.
I’ve been so blessed to have learnt this through a loving and safe relationship.To have the freedom to question my misguided beliefs and have them met with understanding. An opportunity not every woman has.
So ladies, here it is.
No, is a perfectly good answer to any question.