How many times do we have to say it? Consent is key

CW: rape. 

Consent. The importance about consent is stressed  by so many. Sex bloggers, certain media, pretty much all the sane people on Twitter. Yet is still seems to be confusing to some (male) adults. I am not going to talk about consent in general. Many other participants of the Summer 100 Sex Blogging Challenge have done that already. Lydia M. Bowers talks about teaching children about consent, which is hugely important, because if our children grow up knowing that ‘no’ means ‘no’, asking for consent will come naturally to them.

This is my personal story about being date raped and still feeling ashamed of it 27 years since it happened.

Date rape

I  have never told anyone this story. My parents don’t know it, my friends have never been told and even my husband only knows I have been raped without the particulars.

27 years ago, when I was nineteen, I visited Paris and stayed with a friend I met on the internet. We had a lovely time and then the second or third night I was there, he pressured me into having sex with him. I didn’t want to, but he made me feel guilty (after all, he let me stay with him for free) and I relented. My train back to the Netherlands wasn’t until two days later and I didn’t have anywhere else to go, so I gave in. I didn’t enjoy it at all.

The next day he told me his girlfriend wasn’t happy with me staying at his place and he wanted me gone. He told me he had to go to work and when he came home, I better be gone. I packed up my things, paid the exorbitant price to get my train ticket changed and went home.

Guilt and shame

As I said, I never told anyone about what happened. My roommates were away on holiday, so no one really noticed I had come back earlier. My parents didn’t even know I had gone to Paris. I felt stupid and ashamed. I was convinced that it was my own fault for staying at the house of a person I had only met on the internet. Now, 27 years later, I still feel ashamed of what happened and though I know that it wasn’t my fault, I am still embarrassed that this happened to me.

Consent

Consent should be given enthusiastically. In my date rape scenario, at no point did I say ‘yes, let’s have sex’. I don’t think I even said ‘yes’, I just stopped saying no. I wish I had known more about consent and date rape when I was nineteen. I wish I could stop feeling like it was my own fault for being so trusting. Yes, it probably wasn’t the best decision to stay with someone I didn’t really know, but I didn’t deserve to be raped.

I take Lydia’s advice and teach my boys (who are now 8 and 11) about consent. I teach them that ‘no means no’ and that unless someone says ‘yes, please squirt me with the water pistol (or whatever)’ you don’t do it. I hope to make a small mark on the world and raise two men who know to ask for a woman’s enthusiastic consent before kissing them, or fondling them, or having sex with them.

Consent doesn’t stop

And even in a relationship, in a marriage, consent stays important. Hubby and I always check in with each other whether we want to have sex. Usually it’s something as unromantic as ‘are you up for sex tonight?’ Or sometimes I ask him, in my most sultry voice ‘can I please lick you tonight?’ If hubby wants sex, he’ll start stroking my legs, hips and ass. Before going further, he will ask ‘do you want me to continue?’ Never assume that just because you’re in a relationship you are entitled to sex whenever you want it.

Maybe, if we all continue to raise awareness about consent, if we raise boys and girls to understand the important of enthusiastic positive consent (rather than assent), maybe then we will see a decline of rapes. I am not holding out much hope, but am prepared to do my bit.

This post is part of the Summer 100 Sex Blogger Challenge. Check out posts by other participants:

Stephanie asks when should you have the code to your partner’s phone. My hubby doesn’t have a code on his phone and he knows mine. No biggie, neither of us have anything to hide.

Nell has a great article about feminism and (reality) TV in which she makes some great points about double standards and slut shaming.

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