Green Light Consent

“Can i touch you there” i asked as we became more sexual

erotic couple“Are you going to keep asking that?” Jena replied

“It is my culture.” i answered

“It is not mine, please stop.” But her smile was clearly not a “no”

After our fun and exhausting evening of love making, we spoke longer about consent.  What we established was Jena was offering something which i am calling “green light consent” which means all of the following:

  1. You are invited to initiate any type of physical intimacy, without asking
  2. You will keep your senses up to make sure what you are doing is desired
  3. It is on the person offering the green light to stop verbally or physically things they don’t want to happen (or don’t yet want to happen) early
  4. And because of the green light, they send these stop signals without resentment or upset.

The last point is especially important.  Love making for many is a flow experience. Many also know early on that they want to have a robust sexual experience with their new partners and don’t especially want to be checking in at each point.   But if you are going to drive without metaphorical seat belts, you need to handle mistakes gracefully.  Perhaps your new partner bites you too hard or has surprised you in an uncomfortable way, if you don’t want to be interrupted by these check in questions, you need to make complete agreements at first or you need to respond to mistakes without blame.

Can we say all these things without words?

Can we say all these things without words?

We are trying to build a new healthy consent culture.  But just writing “consent is sexy”  in lots of places is not enough.  Part of what is going on is that since there have been so many date rapes, so many failures to get consent, so much poor communication – with the new consent norms are designed to be more careful and intentional.  This is approach is sometimes called the Oberlin Model where some of the pioneering work on healthy consent has been done. 

And many people are not used to asking before they touch someone they are attracted to or granting permission for contact, especially people who formed there sexually active identities before these new norms were established.

And what this lovely evening with Jena reminded me is that we probably need lots of different types of consent models, rather than pretending one size fits all.