How To Make Sexual Consent Sexy

Consent is a defining feature of sex. It’s so important that removing it turns it into another act: sexual assault. I can’t say enough about how important it is. Whether you’re with established partners or new people, developing consent is a skill that makes sex better for everyone involved.

Many people (myself included) love clear and direct communication. But not all of us lean into that style of sex. Thankfully, we can fold check-ins into sex without separating people from what they find fun. Conveniently, this is another way of taking our partner’s communication needs into account when having sex.

Ask with desire.

Asking for permission is great. Some of my favorite encounters began with cuddling in bed. Tentative. Wondering where it’s going. Then one of us leans closer and asks, “May I?” All hell breaks loose. Asking directly is unambiguous and well-appreciated by many people. But what if we also expressed our interest while asking?

Asking with desire is decorating the question with our profound need for our partners. Consider the difference between, “May I [do this]?” and “I’ve wanted to [do this] with you for so long. May I please?” The content of our request doesn’t change, but we’ve decorated it with our desire. It’s not just a question, but also an admission of how into someone we are.

Examples:

  • “I’m so, so lucky to be here. Can I see more of you?”
  • “Is it fine if I really want to go down on you tonight?”
  • “I’ve been thinking about kissing you all night. Is this a good time?”

The best part is that the variations of this are as diverse as the ways we love other people. At its heart, asking with desire is a chance to make someone else feel desired. Because they are.

Feedback cycles

Consent is ongoing, and keeping it up is super important. But I sometimes feel like I’m being “overbearing” when I check in often. Especially with new partners. Many of us appreciate repeated and direct checks, but others want feedback to be rolled into the enjoyment of sex.

Either way, we need feedback. Unlike stress, sexual consent does run out over time so we have to “top up” on everyone’s feelings. The great news is that we can meet the goal of checking in without losing any of the atmosphere.

Examples:

  • “This feels great for me. Does it feel as good for you too?”
  • “I love kissing you right there, would you like more?”
  • “Feeling up to trading a few more pics?”

I cherish my time with lovers who keep me in the present. I often float away during sex, so a good check-in brings me back. When I’m the one doing check-ins, it’s also my way of seeing where my partner is. It’s always nice to learn that they’re with me in the present.

Exhibit enthusiasm

Ongoing and enthusiastic consent is a requirement for great sex. Not only is it arousing; it also builds an atmosphere of comfort and trust. The rest of the article gives a pretty good story of verbal enthusiasm, so I’m gonna talk about something close to me: non-verbal enthusiasm.

I’m a living contradiction in sexual encounters. I talk less when I’m enjoying myself because my mind is…somewhere else. My ability to make eye contact also goes out the window. Okay, to be fair, there wasn’t much of that to start with. But still, being enthusiastic with my lovers is super important to me because consent is a two-way street. It’s there for everyone’s benefit, and we all have a responsibility to uphold it.

That’s why I sometimes signal through body language instead of words.

Examples:

  • Kiss a nearby part of their body during sex
  • Gently bring one of their limbs over your body while cuddling
  • If you want them to repeat that thing you really liked, just bring their hand back to where it all started
  • Nod happily when they check in on you.

Honestly, even a literal thumbs up can be elevated to new levels when someone is exhausted-but -utterly-satisfied. There were times when someone ruined me (in the best way possible) and all I could manage was a half-assed thumbs up. It still counts as non-verbal consent and my partners always got really smug when they saw me.

There is no punchline. Sexual consent is hot.

I started writing this as one of those “how to do consent without killing the mood” pieces. I hit a block right away because in my experience, consent has never made the precious “mood” worse. So, rather than going in with a mindset of making “boring” consent tolerable, I’m all about making essential and good consent even hotter when it fits the moment. It was never bad to start with, but we can do even better.

But seriously. Try just giving a thumbs-up during sex. How someone reacts to it can tell you a lot about them.

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Summer Tao

Summer Tao is a South Africa based writer. She has a fondness for queer relationships, sexuality and news. Her love for plush cats, and video games is only exceeded by the joy of being her bright, transgender self

Summer has written 24 articles for us.

2 Comments

  1. These example scripts are so hot. “May I?” might have been ruined for me by working in restaurants, but I’m excited to try it out and see if I can rebrand it (and maybe make regular work favours feel a little sexier).

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