Welcome to Safer Words.
I’m here to talk about listening. Really active listening. A kind of open communication that encourages potential.
And not just the sexy kind.
Consent is sexy. Consent is crucial. But consent is also crazy. It’s totally nuts! A fear of expressing or discussing consent has been the root of an unfortunate amount of my less-than-ideal-or-awesome life experiences. And sometimes, part of me starts thinking. like. Consent shouldn’t be this complex, right? Why don’t they teach this in kindergarten. Someone once asked me to define consent and I blurted out far too many personal details (I was talking about my sex life, I think I brought up my parents? I think I brought up my parent’s sex life?). But truth is: my feminism, my praxis, my methodology of acting/creating/playing is deeply tied to my appreciation of consent, sexual or otherwise.
Since my unfortunate dictionary-malfunction (which was, by the way, it was in the middle of an interview), I have developed a working definition of sexual consent:
Consensual sex requires open communication and an expressed desire for a particular activity. All people have the right to decide when, where, and with whom they want to have sex. Having consensual sex means respecting the desires of all individuals involved.
Definition written for The OC. Copyright, Oberlin College.
So I’ve come to better understand and express consent in sexual situations. But that’s actually not the point of this blog. Ideally, consent should extend past sex. Like if we developed safewords for other aspects of life. Or if we listened so well, so good, so hard that we could recognize stop or no in our own bodies and in the bodies of those around us. That every interaction included check ins and enthusiastic participation. And we’d value those physical or verbal representations of fulfilled self-awareness and strength more than anything else. This is what I mean when I say listen.
I’ve spent a long time feeling like my voice is invalid or ineffective. To me, being a feminist means fighting for my right, and the rights of historically and systemically oppressed peoples, to be heard, to be listened to, and to be taken seriously. The more we listen, the more we engage, the more we respect and value each other. The more we reach the potential for empathy, for understanding, for appreciation. Nothing sexier than that.
I’m figuring it out.
A scrub is a guy that can’t get no love from me
Hanging out the passenger side
Of his best friend’s
Trying to holler at me"
— Sylvia Plath (via incorrectsylviaplathquotes)