What is Consent? 10 Fundamentals Everyone Needs to Understand

Most of us think we know what consent is. But when you start to look at it more closely, the “what is consent?” question becomes murkier and far more complex.

Today I want to share ten basic but essential fundamentals that I wish everybody understood.

Content note: this one contains discussion of sexual violence and a reference to murder.

It’s not just about sex

Consent is vital when it comes to sex, of course. But if we only apply consent to sex, we’re missing out a whole bunch of really vital steps.

Instead, I’d like us to conceptualise consent as something we apply in all areas of our lives. If your child doesn’t want to hug or kiss a relative, don’t make them. When your partner tells you they HATE being tickled, don’t take it as a challenge. If your friend has decided to quit alcohol, don’t push them to drink. And so on and so on.

If we normalise respecting people’s choices and autonomy in all areas of life, it becomes easier to normalise informed consent as a minimum standard for sex.

It’s contextual

Consent to something in one context doesn’t imply consent to it in another. I might love my partner casually grabbing my ass in the kitchen while we’re cooking dinner. It doesn’t mean I want them to do it when I’m on a work call!

Never assume that consent in Context A implies consent in Context B. Always ask if you’re not sure.

It’s not transferable

Consent is inherently person-specific. In other words, consenting to something with one person doesn’t mean you’ll agree to it with someone else. This one should really be self-evident. Unfortunately, in a world where prior consensual sexual activity with someone else is still widely used to discredit survivors of sexual violence, it still needs reiterating.

It’s reversible

Consent is not meaningful if it cannot be revoked. In other words, all parties must be able to stop the activity at any point. That might mean ending an interaction, changing up the activity, or even walking away from a relationship entirely.

I don’t care if you’re the most Twue Real D/s Couple that ever existed. Consent is never, ever, ever irreversible. If it can’t be revoked, you don’t have a relationship, you have a hostage situation.

It must be informed

Consent without all pertinent information isn’t really consent.

Years ago, a friend of mine agreed to engage in a knife play scene with a Dominant who said they had years of experience. My friend found out later that the person had lied – they had hardly any experience at all. This rendered the consent she’d given meaningless, because it was given under false pretences.

In other words, lying or deliberately omitting information in order to obtain someone’s consent makes it meaningless.

It’s specific

Consent to Activity A doesn’t imply consent to Activity B. If I’ve consented to kiss you, that doesn’t mean you can stick your hand down my pants without asking. If I say you can tie me up, that doesn’t mean you also get to spank me unless I say you can. And so on.

Never assume that someone is up for something based on their having consented to something different. If there’s any doubt, ask or check in.

It’s about much more than just “not saying no”

Sadly, I still hear “but she/he/they didn’t say no” as a defence when consent has been violated. Here’s the thing: consent is about much more than just the absence of a “no”.

Is the other person actively engaged in what you’re doing together? Are they responding positively? If not, pause and check in. If they shrug, say something non-committal, or otherwise seem uncomfortable, stop.

It’s everyone’s responsibility

As I wrote about in this week’s Coffee Date, sex education is too often based on a “boys push, girls say no” model. But this is a gross over-simplification of what consent is and how it works.

Bottom line? It’s everyone’s responsibility. Never make assumptions about what someone might be “up for” based on their gender or any other characteristic.

It has limits

As a general rule, I’m a proponent of allowing informed, consenting adults to make the best decisions for themselves. However, this principle has its limits. Following the murder of Grace Millane, the UK outlawed use of the so-called “rough sex defence” in murder trials.

Here’s a great article from my friend Franki Cookney on why the rough sex defence is an antithesis to what consensual kink is all about. The bottom line? Fun, consensual kink play doesn’t cause serious harm. People cannot consent to GBH or death.

You’ll mess it up sometimes

This is the hardest one to swallow, and yet the most essential. We are, all of us, human and imperfect. I’ve made consent mistakes in the past, and I’m sure you have too.

Here’s the thing: making a mistake or fucking up in good faith doesn’t make you a garbage person. It makes you human. Apologise, change your behaviour, and learn from the incident so you don’t cause the same harm again.

What we can do is to do our best in all circumstances. This way, when we make a mistake it’s likely to be relatively minor, rather than an enormous violation that will cause someone else untold damage.

Consent is complicated!

What do you wish someone had taught you about consent?

The Sex Ed September banner, featuring colourful condoms

This post is part of my Sex Ed September series, where I’ll be sharing educational content all month long. If you find my work valuable, buying me a coffee help keeps the lights on at C&K HQ.

[Guest Blog] What Cats Can Teach Us About Boundaries by Quenby

It’s a rare gem of a guest pitch that can say something incredibly important and make me giggle my ass off at the same time. That’s why this idea from Quenby went into the instant “yes!” pile. As a consent nerd and self-obsessed cat lady, I love the way they manage to nail the essence of both cats and boundaries in this piece. Let’s dive in…

What Cats Can Teach Us About Boundaries

Recently I was discussing boundaries with my datemate AJ and they said something that stuck with me. “When it comes to physical affection, I’m a bit like a cat!” (no, this isn’t a piece about kitten play!). This was a cute moment between the two of us, but the more I think about it, the more I think cats actually can teach us a few important things about setting boundaries.

It can take time.

You don’t walk straight up to a cat and pet them, you give them space and let the cat come to you. Whether it’s your first time meeting someone, or you’ve been dating for a while, sometimes you need to give your partner space. As someone who tends towards physical affection, this took me some time to get used to, and it’s something I still try to check myself on. But I try to come in without expectations, and give a partner time to relax and adjust to my presence. Letting them come to me can help ensure they’re comfortable and helps build the trust needed for us to feel safe lowering our inhibitions and exploring different forms of affection. And otherwise you’re just chasing a disgruntled cat around the house.

If a cat wants to be stroked, they will let you know.

If they want a belly rub they will let you know, and if they want food they will definitely let you know! Affection must be given and received on terms that everyone enjoys. You have to pay attention to your partners verbal and non-verbal signals, and take cues from them. As part of this we can also draw in the idea of love languages (the different ways in which people show that they care for each other.) Ultimately you need to communicate with a partner and find the ways you can express affection in a way that everyone appreciates. Because otherwise it’s not about your partner, it’s not about sharing a connection, its just about taking what you want from the other person.

Sometimes when you’re petting a cat they’ll suddenly stand up and walk away, because they’ve decided that they’ve had enough.

For consent to be meaningful, it must be continuous. Consent is not a singular moment, it doesn’t mean agreeing to something and then being obliged to stick with it. If you stop enjoying something, it’s always ok to stop. It can be hard to remember this when you’re in the moment. When your partner is right in front of you, excited for something that you also really wanted moments before, it can be hard to speak up. But (and lets say it together this time) if you stop enjoying something, it’s always okay to stop! And if your partner doesn’t respect that, they are in the wrong. And that leads us neatly to the final lesson.

Cats aren’t generally aggressive unless provoked first

But if you don’t follow these rules they will lash out, and those claw marks on your face will be your own fucking fault. If somebody fails to respect your boundaries, then you are entitled to be pissed off at them. Whether or not they crossed that boundary intentionally, they’ve fucked up and must take responsibility for pushing those boundaries. You have a right to establish boundaries and you have a right to enforce those boundaries.

This is intended as a light-hearted take on a serious topic – obviously human relationships are too complex and nuanced to be comprehensively explained by cats. But I think that the core lessons I’ve drawn out in this piece are a good starting point. Make time and space to develop trust, listen to what each person is saying. Above all respect the right to boundaries, and respect that those boundaries might change

However, it is also important to recognise that cats are not perfect models for consent practices. Below is a non-comprehensive list of lessons my partners cat really needs to learn on this subject.

What cats CAN’T teach us about consent:

– You should ask before showing someone your asshole, I’m sure it’s lovely but that’s not a dynamic I want to explore with you.

– Stabbing someones thighs should be discussed ahead of time. There are nicer ways to ask for attention you vicious little cutie.

– Climbing into bed while a couple are having sex is considered rude. Yes, we both love you, but in a very different way to how we love one another.

Quenby is a queer perfomer, writer, and activist. If you liked this post you can check out their blog, or follow them on FB and Twitter @QuenbyCreatives.

[Guest Blog] Erotica, Sex Writers & Consent by Violet Grey

Today’s guest blog comes from Violet Grey. When Violet pitched me this idea, I went “YES” out loud – because this issue is so close to my heart. I think anyone who has ever publicly created content about sex will understand. Thanks to Violet for sharing this piece with me – it is an honour to publish it.

Amy x

It is a truth universally acknowledged that sooner or later, a writer will come across a fan or individual that takes things too far.

While thankfully, I’ve yet to come across a Kathy Bates in Misery type (and hopefully never will!) receiving inappropriate propositions, harassment and even threats are disturbingly commonplace for erotica and sex writers. This is a widespread problem and more often than not, isn’t taken anywhere near as seriously as if it was happening to, say, a history writer or a food blogger.

The perception seems to be, to some, a “well, what did you expect?” mentality.

If we write about sex, we’re going to draw in the weirdos, right?

If we write steamy stories online, we only have ourselves to blame.

It’s our own fault for making the harasser sending us unsolicited nude pictures after reading our erotic stories, despite us having never wanted nor asked for them!

If we write about sex, we must want to have sex with everyone!

This is where the problem lies.

The violation of a writer’s boundaries is subjected to persistent victim-blaming. While we live in a society that is becoming slowly more sexually open, sex is often still viciously demonised; especially so if a woman writes openly about sex, fictional or otherwise.

The general consensus is sex/erotica writers are somehow “worth less” or have less “value”, as writers and as people. Therefore, certain individuals think they can get away with this abhorrent behaviour. The truth is that we are people just like everyone else. We are equally worthy of respect, safety and for our consent not to be violated.

Speaking for myself, I blog about sex and kink and I write erotica. In the online world, people usually have a lot to say about that. It can range from a facetious comment to someone “testing the waters,” so to speak – saying something particularly perverse to see how far they can go.

When blogging about these subjects, you develop a thick skin quite quickly. Before long, you can easily discern harmless banter with fellow friends in the blogging community and someone trying to push things too far.

For example, a few months ago, I received an email from a gentleman who wrote a piece of erotica. Now, I don’t mind people sending me writings, asking for my opinion before they publish it on their blogs etc. or to ask if I am interested in collaborating to write a piece.

However, what this gentleman did was send me a piece of erotica where he was one character and I the other, engaging in sexual relations, as a “response” to a free verse I had written on my blog. Granted, it was well written, but that didn’t make it okay! I was never asked about being a character in his sexually charged story. I made it clear to him I was not comfortable and would not accept being sent any more stories from him. After an apology, he told me that because I wrote erotica, he took that at as, “implied consent” for him to write and send this to me.

(I viscerally cringed here and went “oh HELL no!” – Amy)

I couldn’t believe what I was reading. I was both angered and horrified. This person was one of many who think this is a perfectly acceptable thing to do. Along with individuals asking if they could see pictures of my chest, or commenting they’d be masturbating whilst thinking about me, that story and his justification behind it only further solidified to me a problem that needs to be taken more seriously.

If we applied this logic to other writers, you can see how ridiculous it is. For example, because someone writes a crime novel, doesn’t mean they “imply consent” for someone to break in to their house. If someone writes a horror novel, they don’t “imply consent” for you to follow them around dressed as the story’s villain.

There is no “implied consent”. Sex writing is not an invitation to send us questionable stories, requests, unsolicited nude pictures and death/rape threats – and that’s just to name but a few!

Treat us as you would want to be treated yourself. If you have questions on collaborations, guest posts, someone to be a beta-reader, or just have a question or want some advice, always ask.

It’s never okay to do something without someone’s consent. Sex and erotica writers are no different.

Violet GreyViolet Grey is an erotic author and blogger. An avid reader of erotic romances, you’ll be hard pressed to tear her away from her Kindle! Her blog, Life of Violet, details her thoughts on society, sex and her own sexual explorations in to kink and BDSM… along with some steamy poems and short stories to get you hot under the collar!

5 Reasons You Need Sex Positive Friends

After I write this post, I’m going to be jumping in the shower and then loading the car and heading off to Manchester with Mr CK. There we will convene with 8 of my amazing sex-positive friends for my 28th birthday party. Unsurprisingly, then, when I was considering what to write today I started thinking about sex-positive friendships.

A group of grey kittens in a basket. For a post about sex positive friendsSince I joined the sex-positive and sex writing communities, first on Twitter and then in real life, I have met some of the most amazing people I have ever been privileged enough to call friends. So this is a little celebration of them all, and some thoughts on why you really need sex-positive friends in your life.

You don’t have to self-censor

I hate self censorship, and I do it a lot out of desire to not lose my day job or alienate my family. But sometimes you just want to say “I got fucked realllllllly good last night!” or “check out this awesome shot I took of my boobs!” When you have an awesome group of sex-positive friends, fear of oversharing is… if not entirely eliminated, at least substantially reduced. No-one’s going to say, “ew, I don’t want to hear about your sex life!” when you literally became friends with them through sharing your sex life on the internet.

You don’t have to explain yourself again and again and again

Sure, you’ll occasionally run across someone who doesn’t know the term you’re using, or someone else will use a term you’re not familiar with. And that’s absolutely fine! But the vast majority of the time, terms like polyamory, open relationship, bisexual, pansexual, genderqueer, BDSM, D/s relationship… can just roll off your tongue and no-one will look at you like you’ve grown an extra head.

You can also throw out phrases like, “so my boyfriend’s wife was saying that…” or “when my partner’s girlfriend came over…” without the constant double-take, the wait-what-did-you-just-say?

I don’t mind explaining myself occasionally, and I love dissecting the nuances of our different identities and what they mean and how they manifest for us. But doing polyamory/swinging/kink-1o1 again and again and fucking again is exhausting. With sex-positive friends who get it, you don’t have to do that.

Sex-positive friends will be your biggest cheerleaders

I’ve rarely come across a group of people so loving, so affirming and just so goddamn supportive as sex bloggers, sex writers and other sex-positive folks. These are the people who will retweet the shit out of that thing you wrote that you weren’t sure about, or respond with some variaton of YOU ARE A BEAUTIFUL GODDESS when you share a nude, or celebrate with you when you hit a goal, big or small. We lift each other up when we’re down and we share the highs when we’re up.

Affection is free and easy, and so is consent

Something that sex-positive people understand is that the lines between what society considers appropriate vs. inappropriate between friends are almost entirely arbitrarily imposed. They get that everyone has their own unique boundaries and comfort levels, and that individual relationships get to decide what is and isn’t within their rules. The net result of this is that affection tends to be very free and easy – hugs and cuddles can be joyfully shared without it necessarily needing to mean anything bigger, and kisses and kink play and even occasionally sex can happen between friends without it having to make things weird.

It also means that consent is at the heart of all interactions. In these circles, I’ve also never felt pressured into anything I didn’t want to do. Basically, the deciding factor in whether or not to do something isn’t friends do X, lovers do Y, but simply: does everyone involved enthusiastically want to do X, Y and Z?

I don’t want to go all “hashtag-blessed” on you, but…

Basically, I believe this community has made me a better person. It has certainly immeasurably improved my life and made me a lot happier. I only hope I can give back some small measure of all that these amazing people have given to me.

#ManchBirthdayFest, here we come!

Amy and Exhibit A on… Group Sex!

One of the best things about being a creative person who is friends with other creative people is the opportunity to co-create! This is the third piece I’ve done with Exhibit A (we’ve also covered pegging and penis size!) and it was enormous fun to discuss group sex with him. The ever-so-slightly edited transcript of our Q&A/discussion is below. 

Buckle in and get some coffee for this one, folks – it’s over 4000 words long! (Are you surprised two of your favourite opinionated sex writers had a lot to say!?) Now without further ado, here we go… 

A bed with dim lighting and rumpled sheets. For a post on group sexEA: Right, let’s doooooo this. Where do you want to start?

CK: Yessss. I guess a good place to start is… why group sex? It’s clearly a thing we’re both very into. And I think it holds a lot of fascination for a lot of people. But what’s the appeal? What’s so great about it?

EA: Phew, that’s a huge topic to kick off with! I could write 10,000 words on that last question alone. Short answer though? It’s more. More of everything. More cocks and/or cunts, more arses and boobs, but also more sensation and emotion and connection and chemistry. More combinations of different people and different body parts. For those of us who self-identify as greedy, it’s a no-brainer!

CK: I love that. And I am definitely also in the camp of “greedy.”

EA: How about you? What would be your group sex ‘elevator pitch’?

CK: Hmm. I think it’s a lot about the possibilities it opens up for me. Like, there are things you just can’t do with only one other person, like certain sex configurations or especially certain kink dynamics/scenes. Two people offers a huge number of possibilities, but with three or more it’s pretty much infinite. Plus, honestly, I get to embrace the power of “both” – if I want both cock and cunt, I can have both. If I want to both Dom and sub, I can do both.

EA: Yes, and even when there are things you can do with just two of you (spit-roasting, for example, using cock and toy or toy/toy), it’s so much easier and more fluid with a third pair of hands.

CK: Absolutely! When you first experienced group sex, was it like you expected it to be in fantasy?

EA: Funnily enough, the first time I had what you’d call group sex (a threesome that I wrote about here), it features far less in my fantasies than it does now. So my expectations were…hmm, open-ended, I guess. I’d talked about it a lot in advance with the couple in question, but it was a completely new thing for all three of us, so I guess we kind of figured it out as we went along, rather than relying on set ideas about what might happen. Since then, threesomes and moresomes have ranged from entirely aligned to my fantasies, on the one hand, to wildly divergent on the other. But that’s sex in general, right?

CK: That makes sense. My first time was completely the opposite in a way – entirely unplanned, just happened in the spur of the moment). My early experiences tended to go like that, whereas now there is usually – not always, but usually – at least a bit of pre-planning that goes into it. And sometimes things come out as planned/fantasised about, sometimes they don’t.

EA: Where do you stand on pre-planning group sex? I can see arguments in favour and arguments against, but I’m aware that a) you have more experience in this department, and b) you guys have a more structured approach than we do in general to involving other people in your relationship (in whatever context), so I’m curious to get your perspective.

CK: I’m still torn about it, really, and it very much varies depending on circumstances. I do like the planning/scheming/idea-sharing (and, let’s be real, wild sexting) that comes in the lead-up to a planned session. However, I do feel like it can end up with everyone feeling undue pressure – like it’s going to be a big failure if it doesn’t come off or doesn’t come off in the right way? I tend to thing the pros of pre-planning outweigh the cons, in general, especially because you can easily discuss boundaries, limits, safer sex protocols and all those other important things while everyone’s still got their clothes on. But I have had spontaneous fun that was wonderful, too. The reality for me is most of it has to be somewhat planned – I live in a tiny town with no scene, live with my Primary partner but all my/our other lovers are at least a drive away, and so we have to make plans for people to visit/for us to visit them/to go to the club or a kink event.

EA: All that makes sense! Again, there’s a lot of overlap with general sex considerations – the bit about discussing boundaries, limits etc can apply to any sexual situation, especially one with a new partner. I can see that the importance of those discussions is elevated slightly by the fact that three (or more) people are involved – and that in a lot of cases you’re talking about an established couple inviting a new person into their bed.

CK: Yes, absolutely. A lot of it is general sex concerns, amplified because more people.

EA: The whole porn/erotica trope of something just happening, spontaneously and without any prior indication that you might all end up in bed together, sounds great…but I imagine is pretty rare. It takes a certain amount of boldness to say to someone (or to a couple) “heyyyy…shall we all fuck now?”, unless you’re pretty damn sure they might say yes!

CK: Hah! I have literally never had that happen. My spontaneous group sex has always either been “more than one person I’m already banging happens to be in the same place” or “we’re at a sex party and everyone is here for precisely this.”

EA: Actually, that leads nicely into a question we had from someone on Twitter…

CK: Ooh, go for it!

EA: “Assuming the “couple +third” paradigm, who typically initiates, the couple or the third, and how can folks manage the additional pressure of being approached by or approaching two people?”

CK: Based on my experience, it’s a lot more common for it to be the couple who initiates – like, couples looking for a third is so much of a thing that it’s become a stereotype (“unicorn hunting,” anyone?) But I have been approached, as part of a couple, by a third person wanting to play with both of us. A couple of times actually. It’s always surprising but awesome. Has that been your experience too?

EA: Yes, while you were typing I was thinking back through my experiences, and it’s pretty much always been the couple who’ve initiated things. Though it’s not necessarily one or the other! There’s been at least one occasion when I’ve discussed it separately with my partner and the third person, before my partner and I have then suggested moving things forward. As you said, there’s a lot of fun sexting to be had around group sex, and I suspect it’s not uncommon for two (or even all three) sides of the triangle to have independent, exploratory conversations about all fucking each other. And that’s great actually, because then you at least know you’re all on the same page before someone sticks their neck out and asks the question.

CK: With regards to the additional pressure thing, it’s definitely a concern. If I’m on the initiating-as-part-of-a-couple side, I try to make it very clear that whatever answer the other person gives is A-Okay and there’s never pressure from us to do anything they’re not comfortable with. But I’ve certainly had experiences where I’ve found it harder to say no to two people than I would to say no to one. Especially when I’ve been in their space. What I’ve also noticed is that the couple+third dynamic is VERY different to a couple+couple dynamic.

EA: See I’ve only ever done couple + third, or just general mass of bodies (SO good). We’re yet to play with another couple outside a sex party, so I’m interested to know what you think the main differences are.

CK: Mmmm, mass of bodies… ANYWAY. It feels easier to make the approach with another couple, for me, because there’s a sense of balance that isn’t often there with couple + third. But actually, despite the even number, I’ve found it harder to navigate a situation that makes everyone involved happy when there’s 4 people as opposed to 3. Maybe it’s just more people’s preferences at play all at once? We’ve had so many couples approach us where, essentially, the other husband wants a live lesbian sex show starring me and his wife, and just assumes my partner will be into that too. Which is… fine but not really what we’re after!

EA: That makes sense to me. You’re also talking about two relationships, with all the attendant emotions, history, kinks, interests, and – yes – jealousy that might be involved with them. Of course it would be more complicated.

CK: Yes! Which leads me nicely onto the often asked question of jealousy… does it come up? How do we handle it if it does?

EA: I’ve been lucky enough not to experience jealousy as an issue in the group sex I’ve had – any time I’ve been part of a/the couple, we’ve both been pretty clear in our minds about what the other person is into, what they want, and what might turn them off or trigger jealousy/trauma of some kind. I feel like we say this in every one of these chats, but that’s where good communication is SO important.

CK: Huh, interesting! I’ve never had it come up for me in a group sex situation either, though I have had a partner’s jealousy come up.

EA: Really? What happened and how did you deal with it – at the time and afterwards?

CK: I’m specifically thinking of a time very early on in our relationship where another guy, who I had been into for a while but this was the first time we’d played, asked if he could have penetrative sex with me. My partner had some jealous feelings come up and decided he couldn’t handle that at that moment. It was fine – we reassured him his boundaries mattered, we weren’t upset, and there were hugs, then we continued to do other things. And the next time we played with that guy, there was penetration and it was absolutely fine. We talked in private later, of course, about what he’d been feeling and what had caused it. But that was very early on and it hasn’t come up for either of us in a really long time. I think a big part of it is we’ve got good at checking in with each other during, even non-verbally, to make sure we’re still having a good time. Sometimes just a “hey, I’m here” squeeze of the hand can be all you need.

EA: YES! That’s a really good point! I can’t emphasise enough the importance of non-verbal communication during a group sex scenario, actually.

CK: Absolutely – when you know your partner really well, you can say SO much with just a look or a touch, and it can be so reassuring.

EA: Which makes absolute sense. You’d instinctively/unthinkingly offer that same reassurance in so many situations with your partner, especially one you have a close/longstanding relationship with. Of course you’d do the same thing during sex

CK: I see a lot of people asking if they should have a threesome/swing to please their partner when they don’t actually want to, and my answer is always an emphatic NOPE DO NOT DO THAT THING. Everyone has to be into the idea, otherwise it is almost guaranteed to go awry.

EA: Oh god, yes. Again, true of just about everything, but maybe even more true of something where you’re involving other people. Not fair on them and definitely not fair on yourself.

CK: Definitely. When I wrote my post about being a good couple to have a threesome with, I think the most important point I made was the “have your house in order first.” (link here). So I had an interesting question from a reader…

EA: Shoot.

CK: They ask: what if you’re in a group scenario but you don’t want to have sex with everyone in that group, or only do certain things? (The example they gave was, say, happy being spanked by anyone but don’t want to have genital contact with everyone?) Is that a thing you can navigate? And this also ties in to some thoughts I had about mixed orientations within group settings.

EA: Do you want to dig into those thoughts while I have a go at answering the main question?

CK: Sure! I mean, I’m in a mixed-orientation relationship. I’m bi while my partner is, for all intents and purposes, basically straight (a little bit flexible but that’s usually neither here nor there.) This is quite useful in group scenarios in a way, especially given the high percentage of bi/pan women within non-monogamy. But it’s also something to be careful with… we’ve had a situation with a queer woman and straight man, and both of them were trying to get their hands on me, which led to my partner feeling left out. But I’ve also played in group scenarios with straight or mainly-straight women, and it’s been fine. Sometimes there’s kissing/fondling/light play, sometimes nothing at all, depending on her comfort levels. But that could be a problem for some people if a priority for them in group sex was getting their needs for the-sex-that-their-primary-partner-isn’t-into met.

EA: Regarding your reader’s question, I don’t know that I can give a satisfying solution to this one! The more people you add to any scenario, the greater the level of social complexity – partly because there’s a heightened expectation that you’ll all just muck in. If a stranger approached you in a bar, no-one would expect you to have a conversation with them – if you’re at a cocktail party, where everyone knows someone, and that same stranger tries to engage you, it would seem far ruder just to ignore them. So in a group scenario I can see why that same pressure would be there! But…

CK: That’s a really good point, and I think it is quite dependent on the people involved and their social dynamics. I think it’s mainly important (again!) for everyone to be honest about where they’re at and what they’re trying to get out of the scene.

EA: You just have to be firm and clear about what you want. And look, this is a hard one to simplify, because a (larger) group scenario can be constructed in so many ways. Are you on your own or there with a partner? Are you at a sex club, a private party, or in a hotel room with a bunch of people you know? The answers to those questions will clearly determine how you approach the situation, and how much other people are already likely to know about your intentions. But the basic principles apply: no means no, only do what you’re comfortable doing, and no-one has a right to do anything to/with your body. The clearer you are with people about what kind of fun you’re up (and not up) for having, the less likely you are to run into any awkwardness.

CK: Yes! It all comes back to consent is the bottom line. And, again, I think it’s best if everyone can be really honest going in. “I’m up for anyone spanking me but please ask before you touch my genitals, as I may or may not be up for that” is a fine and useful thing to say.

EA: Ok, let’s spice things up a bit here. What’s your favourite kind of group sex scenario – and/or, what’s been your hottest group experience? Alternatively/additionally, what haven’t you done yet, but would really like to?

CK: Ah, my favourite question! My favourite scenario is a toss-up between “switch-in-the-middle” (usually a man who is more dominant than me and a woman who is more submissive than me) or “co-subbing to two or more people” where I pretty much get ganged up on and they do evil shit to me. The one I REALLY want and haven’t done yet is a gang-bang. Just endless cocks… factory-installed or silicone, I don’t care, just LOTS of them. I’m seriously considering a gang-bang for my 30th birthday in a couple of years if I haven’t done it by then.

EA: “My name’s Amy and I’m #greedy”

CK: I mean… yeah, accurate! Same questions to you?

EA: It’s funny, in theory my favourite is MMF with a guy who’s either bi or at least into some same-sex stuff going down (heh)…and when I’ve done that it’s generally been great…BUT I have to say I’ve probably enjoyed MFF threesomes even more in reality, because they’ve always involved awesome people (whereas the other guy in each of my MMF encounters has been a stranger to me, pretty much). That’s made it much easier to relax and let go of any remaining inhibitions, especially when the focus has been on my pleasure. Having two women suck your cock at the same time sounds (and is) great, but in a weird way it’s also a lot of pressure! It helps to know they’re both lovely.

CK: Hah! That makes sense. It does (often) help if there’s already some connection with the other people. What’s on your group sex bucket list? (Fuck-it list?)

EA: As for what’s at the top of my group sex fuck-it list… ha! Snap! A really hot, no-holds-barred (no-holes-barred?) night with another couple is right up there. Or an MMF threesome where I get fucked by the other guy too – or by a strap-on while I suck his cock. Y’know, little things like that.

CK: Yum on all counts! Any single hottest experience so far stand out for you?

EA: I’d say the threesome we had with a fellow Eroticon delegate after the Saturday social last year! It was sort-of planned, in the sense that she came back to ours when she had accommodation arranged elsewhere, but then it all unfolded really organically and spontaneously once we got here. Fucking her from behind while she went down on Liv was just…hnnnngh… You?

CK: One that really stands out for me is when my partner was dating his last secondary girlfriend and she came over one evening. He and I had discussed that we were up for it if she was, and apparently she’d said she was up for it if I was, and… it all just sort of happened. We went from cuddling to snogging to pinning her down and making her come with the Doxy (and then falling about laughing when she recovered from her orgasm and declared “I’M GETTING ONE.”) And it all just flowed from there.

EA: The chill-out time after a good threesome, when you’re all still high on the endorphins, is definitely one of the best things about them.

CK: Oh, so much! And the three- (or more-) way snuggles are just…. mmm. Yes. Have you ever had a group sex experience go badly that you’re willing to talk about?

EA: Happily both the short and the long answer is no – I’ve been very lucky in that sense. There have been times when group sex has been discussed (or hinted at) and it hasn’t panned out, but I’ve never been in a situation that’s got out of hand in a bad way…or just failed to deliver.

CK: That’s really good! (And probably not a very common experience, I imagine?)

EA: I was going to ask about the voyeuristic element of threesomes with your partner. Is that an active part of the appeal for you? If so, what is it that appeals to you about watching someone you’re in a relationship with fuck someone else?

CK: Funnily enough I was thinking about/discussing this with my partner this weekend. It’s definitely a big part of it for me. When I feel secure in a relationship I feel compersion quite strongly, so watching my partner having fun just fills me with joy in a way that isn’t even immediately sexual. But I am also a huge voyeur, so I guess the appeal is watching two or more people I’m wildly attracted to getting it on. (And knowing I get to join in too just makes it even better!)

EA: Yes, that last bit is definitely something I get too. The anticipation of watching things heat up between two people you really want to fuck…and knowing that at some point you’re going to, y’know, fuck them…is SO good.

CK: Oh yes! What do you think are some of the biggest myths around group sex that people tend to believe?

EA: There’s an odd but pervasive assumption that any threesome involving two cis men and a woman is just going to end up as a bro-tastic spit roast with as little physical or eye contact between the guys as possible. That’s not been my experience of MFM, and certainly there are a lot of self-identified straight men out there who are just as curious and experimental about M/M plat as our various cultural norms would have you believe straight women are about F/F.

CK: Oh, absolutely. In the swinging and non-monogamy communities there seems to be a really pervasive assumption that men are all straight and women are all bi, which is not the case at all!

EA: I think there’s also a belief that threesomes always have to be these big, high pressure ‘Events’ – that they’re somehow different to just regular ol’ sex. And sometimes that’s true! As this chat has made clear, there are considerations with group sex that don’t always apply to sex with just one partner. At the same time, though, there are downsides to putting ant kind of sexual activity on a pedestal – namely that it ends up looking really daunting to people who maybe aren’t that confident or experienced.

CK: I think it also sets people up for disappointment – if threesomes/group sex are held up as this amazing, once-in-a-lifetime thing that represent the pinnacle of sexual achievement, how can the reality ever match up to the hype?

EA: Yep. Threesomes can also feel really easy and natural, or like an extension of the fun and intimacy you have with an existing partner. They don’t have to be a huge deal, and they do sometimes evolve organically, without the need for endless discussion/negotiation beforehand, and without feeling like anything especially significant. Those experiences are 100% valid too, and they maybe get overlooked or downplayed a bit. Next question for you: any practical tips to make sure no-one feels left out during a threesome?

CK: The left out thing is really interesting because I’ve never actually experienced it either from myself or from a partner. I suppose the tips are obvious – make sure everyone in the situation is actually comfortable with everyone else, take turns to be the centre of attention (this can flow very organically!) and as much as possible, come up with configurations that all 3 (or more) can engage in at the same time. Final question from me before we wrap up: what advice would you give a person or couple before they experience group sex for the first time?

EA: I’d tell them to read our awesome Q&A! I dunno – preparing for any exciting/scary new thing is such an individual thing that I’d be loathe to give much super-generic advice. For every person who would benefit from talking through the whole scenario in advance with the two (or more) other parties, there’ll be someone else who needs it all to feel spontaneous and organic. Even saying ‘make sure you really want it before you do it’ feels a little disingenuous: I don’t know about you, but I’ve definitely leapt feet-first into new sexual experiences before, without giving them much thought, and not regretted it – sometimes you need to suck it and see (so to speak) before you know whether a particular kink or activity is for you. I guess maybe I’d tell them to practice self-care (whatever that means for them), keep an open mind, and be clear about both their limits and their preferences. You can’t go far wrong doing those things!

CK: Hah! Yes. Our advice is “this entire post!” I’ve definitely leapt into things without being entirely sure or having much of a plan before, too – usually I’m a planner but occasionally spontaneity has been fun! Practicing self-care is a really good tip because that can encompass to many different things, so people can do whatever that means to them. The only other thing I would add is COMMUNICATE DURING! It can be quick, it can be nonverbal, it can even be sexy – but please just fucking communicate.

EA: Thanks, this has been really great! I didn’t think we’d have any shortage of things to say about group sex, and 4,000+ words later, it turns out I was right. Till next time!

My Safety Philosophy: Why I Practice (C)RACK

I always listen to Loving BDSM Podcast the day it comes out (Fridays), usually on my way to work. They’re always insightful, frequently hilarious and often make me think.  Today’s episode was all about the different safety philosophies within the kink community. Kayla and John discussed why they personally practice SSC – Safe, Sane and Consensual. As always, they’ve got loads of great things to say and I highly recommend you take a listen.

A cracked wall with flowers growing out of it. For a post on safety philosophies in kink.As I was listening, I realised I’ve written about safety tips for kink, but I’ve never actually written about my own personal safety philosophy before.

In kink, the three safety philosophies you’ll mostly hear cited are:

SSC: Which states that everything we do must be Safe, Sane and Consensual.

RACK: Which urges us to practice Risk Aware Consensual Kink.

And PRICK: Which asks us to take Personal Responsibility (in) Informed Consensual Kink.

Each of these has their merits and I will never knock anyone else’s safety philosophy as long as it’s based around the cores of safety and informed consent. Personally, though, I practice RACK. Let me tell you why.

What is “safe” anyway?

Very little in life is completely safe. We take risks in our life every day. It would be absurd to think that sex or kink could be completely free from risk. I take a risk every time I use a sharp knife to chop vegetables. I take a risk every time I get in my car (driving, when you think about the size of the machine you’re in and the speeds at which it moves, is fucking terrifying). And I definitely take a risk every time I let someone spank me, string me up in ropes, or get into edgy and emotionally fraught places in my psyche. (Yes, not all risk is physical. Mental risk is just as real).

Risk Aware, for me, doesn’t just mean knowing the risks are there but taking active steps to reduce them. We know driving is dangerous, so we wear seatbelts, don’t drive drunk, and don’t text while we’re driving. And in kink, it’s exactly the same.

Being risk aware means letting a partner know about any physical issues I might have that could impact our play, and keeping an eye on them during. It means letting my partner know about a pinched nerve or pins and needles in my hands. It means, when I’m Topping, getting proper education on the acts I want to do to another human being and not playing beyond my competence level.

So: nothing we do is, or can be, completely safe. Even vanilla missionary position sex with the lights out carries some degree of risk. By being informed, we can meaningfully mitigate risks to the best of our ability.

Who gets to define “sanity”?

I, like approximately 1/4 of the adult population (conservative estimate,) suffer from a mental health problem. Does that mean I’m incapable of doing kink responsibly? No, absolutely not. As a person with mental health conditions, I find classifications of “sanity” to be intensely problematic.

As long as I’m aware of where my mental health is at, and can communicate that to a partner, it’s generally reasonably safe and completely healthy for me to play. Which… circles us back around to that risk aware piece, doesn’t it?

At best, sanity is nebulous and difficult to define. What feels “insane” to one person might be “average Saturday afternoon” for another.

My unease with PRICK

PRICK is a fine philosophy, in so far as it goes. But it makes me feel a vague uneasiness whenever I hear it, and today I finally put my finger on why.

I’ve been involved in various ways in anti-sexual-violence activism for 6+ years. The phrase “personal responsibility” has been thrown at me and so many of the survivors I know more times than we can count. In those instances, unfortunately, it is taken to the extreme of meaning that you are ultimately responsible for everything that happens to you.

This means that a generally good philosophy (“look out for yourself, take responsibility for your actions and the impact they have on yourself and others around you”) has been co-opted and twisted to mean “if someone harms you, it’s your fault”.

It’s not that I’ll never play with someone who practices PRICK, but I would need to make damn sure that their meaning is closer to “we are responsible for taking care of our own and each others’ safety and wellbeing to the best of our ability”. That’s what a good philosophy of personal responsibility would look like.

Sadly, I just know too many people who say “personal responsibility” when they mean “if you get raped, what were you wearing how much did you drink why were you out late how did you not know that guy was a rapist?????

It all comes back to consent

Whichever you practice, you’ll notice that the one thing all these philosophies have in common is consent. Consent is at the core of everything we do. However, it occurred to me today that there is one key ingredient which none of these philosophies explicitly address…

The missing piece

Kayla and John so often come back to the importance of communication in their discussions on Loving BDSM. I often find myself nodding along, and am in absolute agreement with them that effective communication is at the core of everything we do. You cannot have safe(r) kink and sex without communication. You cannot have a good relationship without communication! And I don’t think we can meaningfully discuss good philosophies of safety without also discussing the importance of strong communication.

Therefore I present to you my new philosophy, adapted from RACK, which you are all welcome to use if it speaks to you:

CRACK: Communicative (&) Risk Aware Consensual Kink.

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Image from Pixabay and used under Creative Commons licensing.

How to Be a Good Couple to Threesome With

I’ve had a LOT of threesomes. I love them. Due to my status of more-or-less-constantly-in-a-relationship-since-I-was-a-teenager, I’ve more often – not always, but often – been one of the members of the more established couple, rather than the third person coming in for playtime.

Playing with an existing couple can be really daunting, even if you’re really into them both. like to think that Mr CK and I are a good couple to threesome with. We’ve been told so, anyway! So I thought I’d set down some things that I believe a couple can do in order to treat the third party in their threesome well, and make sure they have a good time.

1. No Pressure

Pressure is a massive libido killer. It’s a really bad idea to go into a threesome or potential threesome with a very rigid idea of how you want it to go. This puts undue pressure on everyone, and especially on the third party, who may feel that they have (or actually have) less negotiating power than the couple.

Don’t rush things. Don’t invite a potential playmate over To Have A Threesome And Anything Else Is A Failure. Spend time getting to know what makes them tick, what they’re into, what they’re hoping to get out of the experience, what kind of ongoing dynamic they’re interested in with the two of you (if any), and how they communicate.

And for fuck’s sake, when things do progress to a sexy place, don’t make it a rush to get around all the “bases” as quickly as possible! Making out, touching, groping, hand stuff, oral sex, kink play… all of these things can be amazing. Yes, intercourse can be on the table, but it doesn’t have to be… and rushing to get there will just result in a bad time for everyone.

2. Have your own house in order first.

Nothing is more awkward than being in the middle of a couple having a fight… except being in bed with a couple having a fight.

Discuss your feelings. Talk about any insecurities or jealousies you have that might come up. Plan for how you’ll handle it if they do come up – in a way that is kind and compassionate to everyone, including the third person. “Well we can just kick her out if one of us gets jealous” is neither a solid plan nor an ethical way to treat a human being.

Don’t attempt to bring anyone else in to your relationship, whether for casual sex or something more, unless your relationship is solid first. Note I said solid, not perfect – perfection does not exist. It is monumentally unfair to bring a third party into a dynamic that is crumbling or dysfunctional. It is even more unfair to expect that this person, or sex with them, will somehow fix your relationship issues.

“Relationship broken, add more people” is a cliche because so many couples try to do it… and it never, ever ends well.

3. Approach sex as a collaboration, not a service from them to you.

If you want to have a threesome with a third party where the focus is really on the two of you in the couple, consider hiring a sex worker and paying them properly for their services.

Sex is a collaboration, a dance. Everyone should give and receive pleasure and the goal should be mutual satisfaction for all parties – not just the couple. Your threesome buddy may not be a fully fledged member of your ongoing relationship, but they are a fully fledged member of whatever dynamic the three of you are creating together. Collaborate to have a sexy time. Don’t use them.

Your threesome partner, even if the sex is casual, is not a life-size sex toy! They’re a person with their own wants, needs, desires and feelings.

4. Consent first, consent last, consent in all things.

Check in early and often. If you’re not absolutely 1000% sure you have consent for something, ASK. “Ruining the mood” is a myth – a good time will never be ruined by checking on consent for something, but it can easily be ruined by overstepping someone’s boundaries.

And of course it should go without saying that no means no, and you should never push someone to do something if they don’t want to.

Mr CK and I received an email from someone we played with recently, thanking us for how good we were at consent and boundaries, and it is honestly one of the best compliments I have ever received.

5. Openly discuss safer sex.

This is absolutely vital. Ideally, this discussion should happen while clothes are still on, long before any sex happens, but it can happen in the moment if necessary. Everyone should disclose their testing status, their safer-sex protocols, the method(s) of birth control they’re using, and any other relevant information – an allergy to latex, for example.

This is as much your responsibility as a couple as it is the third party’s responsibility! 

6. Have things you’re likely to need on hand.

Have a stash of condoms, lube, gloves and dams easily reachable. Think about, and discuss, what toys you’re likely to want and have them easily accessible too (and charged, if applicable)!

7. Have an aftercare plan.

Will your threesome buddy stay over, or would they prefer to go home afterwards? How will they get home safely? If they do stay, would they prefer to sleep with you both or in a separate bed? (I hereby promise that anyone who stays over at ours after sexy time will get pancakes and your favourite hot beverage in the morning. Just, you know, in case it tempts anyone…!)

Make sure there’s time afterwards to cuddle, debrief if necessary, and make sure everyone is okay and has everything they need. Offer, and ask for, reassurance and affection freely as needed. Check in with your sexy friend the next day to make sure all is well with them.

Aaaaand that’s it. Follow these tips and, while I can’t guarantee you’ll have an amazing threesome, you’ll be safe in the knowledge that you’re treating your Special Guest Star with the respect, compassion and consideration they deserve.

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Can You Truly Consent Ahead of Time?

As you will have seen already if you’ve been reading this blog for long, I have Many Feels about consent. In short, consent is everything. In all areas of life, but in sex and relationships in particular.

Full disclosure the first: I pondered this one for a long time, nearly didn’t post it at all, then went “oh fuck it.”

Full disclosure the second: it’s relatively late on Friday night and I’m tired as fuck. This might not be my best work ever.

Psst – don’t forget to check out #KinkMonth and join the conversation!

Today in 30 Days of D/s, Kayla and John are talking about sexual availability. They say:

In some D/s relationships (including ours), there is an agreement that the submissive will always be sexually available to their Dominant.

While this can be a kinky, sexy aspect of a relationship, it always requires a great deal of trust from the submissive and responsibility from the Dominant. What do you think? Does it sound deliciously sexy? Or does it not sound appealing at all?

Pre-consent vs. sexual availability

Mr CK and I do not have this type of arrangement as such, because we’re not in a 24/7 D/s relationship. What we do have, however, is certain types of what we call “blanket consent” or “pre-consent”- which, in practice, I imagine works in much the same way as a relationship where the submissive has consented ahead of time to sexual activity when the Dominant wants it. That is, it’s okay for you to do this thing unless I explicitly withdraw consent in the moment.

One of the things we’ve put this in place for is instigating sex/play while the other is asleep. Either of us can do this, and we’ve pre-negotiated that it’s okay. I find it really hot to be woken up from sleep because he’s decided he wants to fuck me. (And I’m a LIGHT sleeper so there’s no chance of my not waking up once he starts making a move on me.)

The reasons this works and is safe for our relationship, I think, are threefold:

First and most important: trust

Pre-consent of any kind, especially for sexual activity when in a vulnerable situation like being asleep, is edgy shit. It requires a huge amount of trust. This is not something you do on a first date. I really don’t recommend playing around with this level of vulnerability with a partner until you have a seriously solid foundation of trust.

Again: this is edge-play. Treat it accordingly.

Secondly, we exercise common sense and don’t abuse the trust

Just because he technically could, under this agreement, wake me up for sex at 3am the night before an important early meeting… doesn’t mean that he would.

Part of having agreements around pre- or blanket- consent means not abusing the trust your partner has put in you. These agreements exist, hopefully, because both parties find them sexy and are enthusiastically into whatever the thing being consented to is. Using them in a way that is likely to cause your partner harm or distress violates the spirit of the very trust required to have these kinds of arrangements in the first place.

Finally, we’re both totally happy to withdraw consent if necessary

I used to be the kind of person who would think, “well, I agreed to this in advance – or at least implied I might be up for it – so I guess I have to go along with it now even though I really don’t want to.” I am not that person any more.

We both say no when we mean no. Being able to rely on each other to do this means that we can relax into the play, knowing that the consent we’re receiving from the other person is genuine.

So: can you consent to something in advance?

My answer is… kind of. In theory I’ve given Mr consent to wake me up for sex any time he chooses. In practice, I could withdraw that consent any and every time he invokes this, if I chose to… and he would respect that withdrawal without question and with no negative consequences to our relationship. So, in reality, I’m actually consenting to the activity in a very meaningful and ongoing way at the time.

Because if you can’t withdraw consent, it’s not really consent at all. In advance or otherwise.

Kinky item of the day: Cuffs! Forget metal handcuffs (they’re either shit quality or painful as fuck in a bad way, in my experience.) What about these black leather beauties?

The above is an affiliate link. All opinions are, and will always be, entirely my own.

Building Your House Together: Using Rules for Good

Did you see that I’m celebrating #KinkMonth by writing posts inspired by Kayla Lords’ 30 Days of D/s project?

Join the discussion on Twitter or sign up for the project yourself – it’s FREE and can be used any way you like. Today’s prompt is all about rules. Kayla and John simply ask:

Do you know what kind of rules you may want or need?

A note about this post: it doesn’t contain much in the way of practical tips. I will do one soon with some more concrete advice on setting positive and useful relationship rules. This one is more a primer on my personal philosophy on the concept of rules/agreements in romantic relationships.

What’s wrong with rules?

A lot of non-monogamous people are against rules in relationships. The thinking goes: if you need rules to keep your partner from hurting you, the relationship is already doomed. I kind of agree with that sentiment, in so far as it goes. But I think it presents an unhelpfully pessimistic view on the role of rules in adult relationships.

Mr CK and I have rules in our relationship. They include things like always using condoms with lovers outside of our dyad, STI testing every 3 months, not having sex with someone new until the other has met the person, and not engaging in ongoing (i.e. longer than a scene) D/s dynamics with other people.

The rules don’t exist to keep either of us in line or prevent us from running amok over each other’s feelings. If we were going to do that, no rules would stop us, in the same way that the “rules” of traditional monogamy won’t stop somebody who is determined to cheat.

We have them because they keep us, and our relationship, happy and healthy.

A better framework

Used properly, rules aren’t a tool to bash your partner over the head with or keep them in line against your will. Used properly, they’re are the walls you build – collaboratively – to contain the house of your relationship.

You can use the word “agreements,” if you prefer, but in this framework they amount to the same thing. They’re limits, boundaries or modes of behaviour that you both (/all) agree to operate within, for the good of the relationship and everyone involved. Good rules should bring a sense of safety and security, like the solid, stable walls of your home. They’re not a prison.

If the agreements of your relationship are feeling like a cage, a conversation with your partner is in order. If your partner is arbitrarily imposing new ones without due discussion and buy-in from you, that’s a major red flag. (Incidentally, you obviously shouldn’t do this to your partner either!) To go back to the shared house metaphor, you wouldn’t just decide to build an extension or divide your living room in half without consulting your partner, would you? (If you would, umm, your relationship operates very differently from mine so please explain to me how this works for you!)

Build your house – together

I was once invited to move in by a partner and metamour. The further into “how will this work?” discussions we got, the more I came to realise a troubling fact. Namely, that their concept was that I would have little to no say in the running of the house. From the colour we’d paint the bathroom to the guests who were and weren’t allowed in the house, I would have very minimal input – while paying half the mortgage, naturally. I realise now, looking back, how fitting a metaphor this was for our relationship. They made the rules and I got no say, both in our trio and in my dyadic relationship with him. We weren’t building the metaphoric (or literal) house together – I was a permanent guest in theirs. I was caged.

I share this anecdote just to illustrate how a framework of rules can be really badly misappropriated. Contrast this with Mr CK and me, who thoroughly negotiate every agreement we make as equals. We leave them all open to discussion of renegotiation at any time, and always consider them with the best possible outcome for everyone involved in mind. Saying all rules (/agreements/boundaries) are inherently bad is like saying walls or doors or windows or grey tiling are inherently bad. They’re not. They’re elements you can pick and choose for your house – your relationship – to make sure it’s designed exactly the way you want it.

Keeping the house clean

You don’t build a house, move in, and expect to never do any work on it again. That’d be ridiculous. You have to sweep, do the dishes, repaint the odd wall and occasionally rip a piece out completely and spend loads of time fixing it. Maintaining the ‘house’ of your relationship is exactly the same. You don’t set the rules once and then you’re done. No. You have to tinker, negotiate

Build your perfect relationship the way you’d build your perfect house, with walls – agreements – to keep you cozy inside. That way, you can prevent the leaking roof of drama, and always have a safe home to retreat to and invite your loved ones into.

Kinky item of the day: Nipple clamps, for squeezy, pinchy fun! I looove clamps so much, both on my nipples and labia. (Pro tip: leave them on for more than 5-10 minutes, and they hurt like hell when they come off!)

This post contains affiliate links. If you buy through them, I may make a small commission. Opinions are, and will always be, my own.

The C Word: All The Wrong Things I Was Ever Taught About Consent

Are you celebratiing #KinkMonth? If not, you totally should be! Why not treat yourself to something exciting?

I’m celebrating by taking part in Kayla Lords’ 30 Days of D/s programme and writing posts inspired by the prompts. Today… oh boy. It’s the big one. Simultaneously one of my favourite topics, and one that feels too massive to actively delve into.

Today, we’re talking consent

Look, I can’t have my say on consent in one post. I just can’t. I’ll probably write a book on it one day (or at least a collection of essays,) but today I have to tell you something meaningful about one of the biggest and thorniest topics out there, in 1,000 words or less.

Something I learned recently: prior to finding sex-positivity, everything I was ever taught about consent is wrong. Everything you were ever taught about it is probably wrong, too.

Let’s go ahead and delve into some of the wrongness.

“Only men need to seek consent. Women don’t need to ask because men are always up for sex.”

If there is one myth that I think could fix so many of the world’s problems around sex if it would just have the decency to die in a fucking fire already, it’s this one.

Newsflash: sometimes, women want sex. Sometimes, men don’t want sex – tonight or this week or with this person or ever. Sometimes women want sex more than men[1] or at different times than men. And everyone needs to seek consent before and while engaging in any kind of sexual activity. (Incidentally, there are more than two genders and not all sex is heterosexual, so there’s that. Consent rules apply the same.)

[1] Source: literally every single male-shaped person I’ve ever dated having a lower sex drive than me, whether only slightly lower or a whole lot lower.

“Consent is unsexy and ruins the mood.”

Fuck this one! Fuck it backwards and upside down with a cactus, seriously.

Consent doesn’t have to be unsexy, awkward or scary. It doesn’t have to be a big sit-down discussion with yes/no/maybe lists (though these are awesome,) contracts and lawyers, for fuck’s sake. It can be straightforward: “I’d really like to kiss you, would you be into that?” “What kind of sex are you into tonight?” It can be playful: “Hey baby, wanna spank my ass?” It can be sexy: “God, I want to fuck you so bad. Do you want my cock?”

And you know what? Even if it IS awkward, even if you DO perceive active consent as unsexy… it’s still fucking vital. Get over it.

“If she says “no” or pushes you away, it might really mean “yes.””

No no no no no no no.

If someone says no or pushes you away, unless it’s part of a very clearly negotiated game (in which instance, you have a safeword, right!?)… no means fucking no.

Playing hard to get is bullshit. Even if you think someone might be doing it (because societal stigma is strong, especially when it comes to women being enthusiastic about sex,) the correct response is to stop what you’re doing and have a conversation with your partner about what’s going on and what you both want and don’t want. The correct response is never to just go ahead and have the sex.

No means no. Pushing you away means no. Freezing means no. Hemming and hawing without giving an enthusiastic “yes” means no. Making excuses means no. “I have a headache” means no. “We really shouldn’t” means no. Say it with me now: anything that isn’t clear and unambiguous consent means no.

“If I don’t ask, they’ll have sex with me! But if I ask, they might say no.”

If you ask and they say no, they were either never going to have sex with you in the first place and would have told you to stop when you got close to a boundary, or they would have endured an experience they weren’t really consenting to, possibly out of fear of the repercussions of saying no.

Is it worth risking maybe raping someone because you’re afraid that asking gives them permission to maybe say no?

(If your answer to the above question is “yes,” fuck off from my blog, ask yourself some serious questions, get therapy and don’t go near another human until you sort your shit out.)

“It’s really hard to know if someone’s consenting or not!”

First: no, it isn’t. Most people’s body language when they’re into an encounter is actually quite clear, and VERY different from the aforementioned “going along with it because you might really hurt me if I say no.”

Second: FUCKING ASK.

Third: if you’re still not sure, it’s your responsibility to not do the thing until you are sure.

See also: this song. [Song is “For the Guys” by Rachel Lark, who is a fucking badass genius. Lyrics include “if you’re not sure that it’s not rape, don’t do it!“]

Tell me in the comments or on Twitter: what lies were you told about consent?

Kinky item of the day is one from my “maybe someday when I have a shedload of money” wishlist: a proper custom-fit chastity belt. (Not an affiliate link and I have no connection to the company.)

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