It was Friday afternoon. I was having lunch with a group of friends I had just met. In the days before, I had explained to them my work with Party With Consent and my passion for all things consent.
At the lunch table, the guys were reminiscing on what they were up to the night before — conversations about dancing, networking, and talking with women.
As conversations about approaching women continued, one of my friends recalled:
“We were thinking about John last night and how he’d probably say to a woman, ‘Do you consent to me kissing you?’”
This resulted in a bit of chuckling around the table, until I responded:
“Well…that is what I do.”
But this isn’t how it always was.
Growing up a young man, there were no men telling me to speak up when I was hooking-up with a woman. Not only were there no men telling me, every type of media I was exposed to — commercials, music videos, movies, pornography, not once do I ever recalled seeing a man ask a hook-up partner, “Do you consent to this?”
And the funny thing is, in all these forms of media. The hook-up partner is consenting. Yet, we do not see it on camera. In every sex scene that gets widely distributed, the actors and actresses sign consent forms before they get on camera.
So even though we don’t see consent spoken of, it is (in a legal contract) when camera aren’t rolling.
But before I saw the bigger picture, the message of masculine sexual silence rang loud and clear, “If you’re a man you have to know what a woman wants sexually and you’re only a man if you give it to her without speaking.”
Well, as a heterosexual man, I have to confess – women of the world, I do not know what you want sexually.
And I’m not going to pretend like I do because I saw what a guy did in a porno. And I’m not going to pretend like I do because I saw how a guy did it in a movie. And I’m not going to pretend like I do because I heard how a guy did it in the lyrics of his song.
And this is why – this is why, yes – this is why — I do ask before I kiss a woman. And as a guy who has experienced both conveying the silent masculinity and being the more verbal, communicative guy.
It’s incredible how much more enjoyable the intimate moments are when you actually know what your partner wants because you asked.
So, yes, I understand why it’s funny that I ask for consent, and no less than 2 years ago, I would have laughed at a guy who did it, as well. But this effort to speak up is not one that I do because I’m the “consent guy” or because I have the public image of a “nice guy”.
I speak up and I ask because creating consent openly is so much more amazing than guessing, assuming, coercing, and manipulating.