.@Stoya can’t give talks in high schools, because she makes porn films. If she could, here’s what she’d say about respecting other people’s boundaries during sex.
A person’s first condom, strap-on, or lacy thong doesn’t come with a pamphlet explaining active consent. Tampon companies don’t print statements on the back of their boxes encouraging teenagers to express their desires and ask for the desires of their sexual partners. Someone should do something about this. It would be extremely inappropriate for me to march into high schools and begin expounding upon communication, respecting other people’s limits, and taking responsibility for expressing your own. What I can do is expound upon some basic guidelines on the internet and hope the core concepts trickle down.
So, here they are:
1. Ask the people you will be having sex with what their preferences and limits are. This fosters active consent and encourages communication.
2. In order for a sexual partner to be able to give you what you want, you have to tell them what your desires are. A sexual partner can’t respect your limits if you don’t express them.
3. It is completely OK to retract your consent during a sex act. You can say that something is more intense than you thought it would be and you are no longer OK with it. If you do not speak up your partner(s) have no guaranteed way of knowing that you are unhappy or uncomfortable.
4. If a sexual partner says something hurts, uses a “safe word” or other signal to communicate that they want the sexual interaction to stop, or just looks unhappy, freaked out, or generally not OK, you need to stop what you’re doing and check in with them.
5. If your partner(s) are drunk or high, their ability to consent is questionable. If they’ve previously expressed distaste for anal sex and are slurring “Fuck my asshole” you should politely decline and bring the subject up later when they’re sober. This applies to any sexual act that you have not previously engaged in with this person.
6. As a general rule, don’t penetrate an orifice, pee, vomit, or bleed on someone, or slap them around without discussing the act first.
7. If your sexual partner(s) express a limit or ask for something to stop and you do not respect it, you are stepping onto a scale that ranges from “jerk” to “full-on rapist”. Personally, I don’t want to be on that scale at all, and I don’t want to engage in sexual activity with anyone who does hang out on that scale.
8. If one of your sexual partners steps on to the jerk-to-full-on rapist scale, call them out on it. You have the right to end the sexual activity you are engaged in and to decline sexual activity with them in the future. There you are. If any condom companies want to use those bits on their wrappers, hit me up.
Originally published in: New Statesman.
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