There’s a rapidly growing movement bringing in a new way of engaging intimacy. This movement is commonly referred to as Consent Culture.
As the #metoo campaign and the subsequent firings of many prominent people have made clear, there is not a sector in society that is exempt from sexual violations. What this screams is that what has been the norm, accepted as simply the way things are, must change. The need for consent practices has never been more present in the consciousness of our country.
The communities that have been confronting sexual assault and boundary violations are leading the way, including students on college campuses, as well as some dance and festival communities. Perhaps the most advanced consent practices can be found in bondage and discipline communities. Playing with pain thresholds and power dynamics necessitates strong, clear agreements to ensure people don’t get hurt. On the whole, we’re still finding our way. What is undeniable is that the wave is coming to shore.
The practice of consent is essential to shifting our culture from one of unspoken assumptions, expectations, and entitlement to spoken desire, boundaries, and co-empowered intimacy. We are each on a learning curve, some more steep than others. What matters most is that we catch the wave.
At times, especially in the beginning, it can feel uncomfortable and full of uncertainty. Fear of rejection and all the places we feel insecure have a way of coming front and center. As we find comfort in the skin of our own boundaries, curiosities, and desire, the practice of consent opens space for deeper levels of connection and pleasure.
Indeed, consent is not a destination, a place we arrive at where we gain some magical insight or understanding that makes it all better. Consent is a journey, a practice. Whether we’re single or in partnership, it’s an ongoing adventure of exploration, learning, and discovery.
Uncovering the contours of our desire, the edges of our boundaries, and what sparks our fire is foundational wisdom that is unique to each individual. This is the part of the journey that no one else can take for us. It is where we must be the courageous adventurer and fierce protector.
The key thing about sex and intimacy that many people are missing is that “doing it” is not an end goal. Orgasm is not a destination, but an experience, a wave. There are high energy moments and low energy moments. When we’re engaging sexually, what we’re doing is surfing the wave.
Good surfers know you want to ride the wave for as long as possible, and if you fall off the wave, you can always get back on and catch another. Sometimes, it takes a bit for the energy to build again, but assuredly, there will be another wave.
To ride it well, we must be present. Each wave has its own flow and personality. They break in different directions depending on various influences. Some are big, some fast, some long and steady. The best surfers get to know the ocean, her rhythms, moods, influences, and that there are no guarantees. She is a force of nature, so while some things can be known, there is always a level of unpredictability.
The key here is to let go what we think should happen. It’s okay, even helpful, to slow down, check in, and above all, stay present. At times, we might even want to let one wave pass and wait for another to surf.
When we ask what another person desires, it opens space for greater understanding of what brings them pleasure, and where the line is between their fuck yes and hell no. It is from this place that we can both honor and respect each other.
Too often, people get so fixated on the goal of orgasm that at best, they’re not present to ensure the pursuit of pleasure is mutually shared and beneficial, and at worst, they manipulate or push past people’s boundaries, which often causes harm.
If orgasm is your goal, you’re missing an entire ocean of experience that will stir ever bigger waves of ecstatic bliss in your body. Let go of the goal of orgasm. Instead of quickly going for climax, take your time. Enjoy the ride. Savor it. See where it goes.
I remember when I first began to expand my capacity for pleasure. It felt awkward and uncomfortable. I didn’t know how to take space for my own pleasure. I rushed through the experience as if speed was desirable. I wasn’t listening to my body, what it desired, what felt good.
As I learned to ride the waves, my body continued to open to ever greater pleasure. Orgasms themselves became waves that would last longer, and come wave after wave after wave. It is my hope and prayer that we can all know such ecstasy in our intimacy.
Indeed, as we continue to find our way through the aftershock of the #metoo movement, consent will become the norm and we will find our way to be good surfers who honor and respect the ocean.
Resources for expanding your own capacity for pleasure: