In a recent intimate encounter, the man I was making out with firmly placed my hand on his cock soon after we began to kiss. I moved my hand away. He moved my hand back to his cock. I moved my hand to his chest. He again moved my hand back to his cock, each time with a little more force of motion.
After the third time, I gave in.
This is not consensual. This is a form of sexual coercion where someone uses manipulation, pressure or force to get what they want. When you put someone’s body part somewhere on your own body, especially your cock or pussy, and they pull away, especially more than once, there’s communication happening there, and it’s not a green light.
I do believe if I had made a clear statement of no, he would have stopped. At least I think and hope so. Instead, all I could get out was, “Your consent is horrible.” I was able to name that his words and his actions didn’t match, but stopped short of ending the encounter, which did ultimately improve some.
The challenge is that my truth was that I wanted to be intimate with him, perhaps have sex, perhaps not. This is where the grey areas get fuzzy. I was open to physical connection, but wanted to go at my own pace, which was much slower than his. It’s important to me to build the energy and see where it leads instead of being focused on just getting off. Sex is an adventure, and the orgasms that come when the energy builds through sensual connection and foreplay are intensified in the best of ways.
Compounding the fuzziness is that I know that men’s sexual energy really centers in their cock, whereas women’s entire bodies are like a sensual pleasure playground. It’s natural for men to bring the attention and focus to the center of their sexual expression. Yet, that doesn’t justify his actions or his prioritization of his desire over my own. If I didn’t want to stroke his cock in that moment, he should have respected that.
The difficult reality is that most people are on a somewhat steep learning curve transitioning from the old paradigm based on assumptions, expectations, insecurities, and silence into the new paradigm of clear consent, empowered ecstasy, and healthy boundaries. I want to hold space for our learning curve, for the inevitable mistakes, the messy, slippery uncertainty. I really want to see us do better. In fact, we must do better. And I, myself, am still learning.
The other complexity for me was the increasing force with which he moved my hand sparked a bit of fear in me. It felt more impatient than violent, but still forced. This is particularly challenging because of the intense fear of men I have had for much of my life. I struggled to discern in that moment whether what I was feeling was my past creeping in, or if the situation really warranted fear. Was it me? Was it him? Did it matter if it wasn’t what I wanted?
The raw truth is that he talked a good talk and I wanted to be intimate with him. I wanted to believe his words. I wanted to believe he just didn’t understand consent, that it was a blind spot, and not intentional. Perhaps some of his words were true, but there’s a severe gap between the values he expressed and his behavior.
Unfortunately, people too often talk a good talk, but their words are hollow, many times using language to make themselves seem safe, putting others at ease, making them vulnerable to manipulation, lies, and coercion. Other times, it’s a genuine blind spot, rote behavior that needs awareness and change.
More and more, I’m holding the importance of slowing down in this instant gratification society we live in. Less and less can we take people at their word and must watch to see if their actions match what they say, however long that takes to see.
In thinking of what’s possible and how we can do better, the key question that comes to mind is this:
Do you want sexual experiences with someone just giving in to the experience? (This happens far more than the male ego can handle, while it’s also true that some actually go for coercion because they think that’s the only way to fulfill their desires.)
Or would you want to have sexual experiences with someone who is dripping wet, hard as hell, and a fully expressed fuck yes? Do you really want to settle for low-level experiences just to get off because it’s easy or would you like a to know dripping wet juicy ecstasy in your engagements? Sober, no alcohol or drugs necessary.
The take home… If it gets fuzzy, stop. Give the situation some space and air to breathe. You can always jump back in later if it’s a go. And if coercion is how you roll, stop. It’s not sexy, and it’s not consensual.