In the wake of the account of Aziz Ansari’s creepy and coercive sexual encounter with a young woman called Grace, it seems a lot of people (aka men) are confused about consent. “We can’t all be mind readers!” they cry, as if non-verbal cues only exist in the context of sex. “How are we supposed to know if you want sex or not?” they ask, dumbfounded by the idea that women also get to weigh in on whether or not they want to fuck. Believe it or not though, there are some men who get it. I know because I’ve slept with them. Rather than give props to them individually, I’m just going to refer to them all as “Joe.” Here are all my real-life examples of how Joe demonstrates an understanding and respect for consent.
On our first date, Joe and I click immediately. We talk and talk and I’m a little surprised at how much we have in common. I invite him over to my place on Canada Day so that we can watch the fireworks from my balcony. As the sky lights up with green, yellow, red and white, we ooh and ahh at the display.
Afterwards, we watch TV on my couch. I slowly edge closer to him and finally Joe asks if he can put his arm around me. I’m taken aback. It’s the first time a guy has ever asked permission to put his arm around me. I tell him yes and slowly start to snuggle into him. Later on when he asks if he can kiss me, I respond enthusiastically. We kiss and it’s amazing.
The first time we have sex I tell Joe that while I want to do it, I’m a little nervous. I ask if he can give me a massage and he obliges. As I start to relax, I lean back into him. Eventually, I turn around and we start kissing and touching each other. Later on, I suggest that it might be sexy for Joe to hold my wrists down during intercourse. I sometimes like to have my wrists tied up, but I don’t have anything that will work, so Joe agrees to hold on to my wrists. Unfortunately after a minute or two, my boobs start to suffocate me (a downside of having ginormous breasts). “Ugh, wait, I can’t breathe,” I say. Joe immediately stops what he’s doing and asks what’s wrong. I explain that my boobs have gotten in the way of my enjoyment and we both laugh about it.
Later still, Joe gives me an orgasm and it is strong. It is so strong that I push him away from me (I need air) and tell him that I need to take a breather. (Side note, if you can find a guy who makes you come so hard that you need to collect yourself, he’s a keeper.) Joe is concerned and asks if I’m okay and I assure him that I’m okay but I need a little time. I ask if we can cuddle for a while and he’s totally down for that. Joe holds me; I’m the little spoon to his big spoon. Never once do his hands wander or does he pester me for more sex. Once I’m ready, we go back for round two.
Most recently, Joe and I are texting each other. I tell him what I want to do to him the next time we’re together and he tells me what he wants to do to me. “I want to put a ball gag in your mouth or get one of those devices that forces your mouth to stay open,” he writes. I freeze. I’m really not into that. I don’t like the idea of having anything keeping my mouth open or possibly inhibiting my ability to breathe. But should I tell him? I don’t want to ruin his fantasy.
“I’m not sure I could handle that,” I reply.
“I respect that,” Joe writes.
We begin talking about consent. I tell him how much pressure I’ve felt in the past to put someone else’s pleasure before my own comfort. Joe insists that this will never be the case with us. “The moment something doesn’t feel right, say the word.” We continue talking about boundaries, what we like, what we don’t like. By the end of the conversation, I feel heard. I feel cared for and respected. Most of all, I feel safe. And I can’t wait to be in Joe’s arms again.