Common Sense

Consent and How To Talk About It

It’s a conversation people did not have for centuries, the idea of having a conversation about consent was actually taboo. It just wasn’t something that we were taught we were allowed to discuss.

It’s only been in the last fifteen years or so that human beings have been having open and honest conversations about consent in the real world. In some communities like the world of BDSM, Consent is a conversation that is expected to happen hours, days, months and sometimes years before anything sexual happens.

Consent implies that the person you are talking about having sex with, actually wants to be with you. Unless the answer to the question “Are you sure you want to do this” is a resounding yes, then you don’t have consent.

When I was growing up and being molested and raped, my step-father made it clear to me that I’d had a choice and I could have said something if I’d wanted to. What he didn’t realize was that I was terrified, not only of getting into trouble, but because one of my abusers made it clear that when I said no I got hurt…and if I didn’t say yes when I was expected to, the hurt would last a long time.

I grew up with the adults around me thinking I was klutzy because I was bruised all the time, when in reality I was being abused and I didn’t know how to say no. Eventually, I learned to hurt myself, to remind myself of what happened, because time and space were starting to weave together and in trying to heal my brain would legitimately forget what I’d been through.

If someone had asked me, if what had happened was something I’d wanted to experience, I wouldn’t have known how to say “no”, because I genuinely did not understand the idea of consent.

It wasn’t until my ex boyfriend “D” sexually assaulted me at a party that for the first time in my young life I was able to say “no”, it was the first time I’d ever used that word in my life. I was about twenty-seven or twenty-eight when that happened.

Consent fucking matters.

It’s important to know if the person you want to be with wants to be with you, not only because it elevates the experience, but because why would you want to be with someone who doesn’t want you?

I spent the next several moments sitting in shock not because he’d sexually assaulted me, I was used to that behavior from men, but because I had actually said “no”, I hadn’t realized until that moment that I was allowed to say so.

Sexual consent isn’t just about sex, it’s about knowing that who you are aligns with who I need you to be not in just the moment, but in the moments when we’re not having sex. It’s about mutual respect – fuck it’s about self respect.

It’s about knowing that you are going to wake up not not regret the last few hours of your life forever, because I’ve been the girl whose a drop in the bucket and it’s fun in the moment but the moment never lasts, once it’s over all that remains is a deep seeded feeling of guilt and shame. When there isn’t mutual consent, when it’s not an open and honest conversation, everything that happens after that is not fair game.

Consent ensures safety, and at the very least that’s what you deserve when you open yourself up to being with another human being.

You deserve to know that you matter to the person you are going to share yourself with, regardless of your age. If I’d been given the choice I would have waited until I was married to have sex with anyone, but I wasn’t given that choice, because no one ever spoke to me about consent.

Do yourselves and your children a favor and have the fucking conversation, so that at the very least even if they are going to have sex before marriage, they are sure of themselves and their safety.

Put the power in the hands of those who need it the most.

Sending all my love,

Devon J Hall

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