Guys, Ask For Consent

I am halfway through a 10-month, 400 hour course on coaching women with disordered eating, exercise addiction and severe body dysmorphia. This has been a completely life-changing, career-altering experience thus far. I am so grateful. However, today I’m want to write about something that has nothing to do with my career. It is on my heart, and has been since I lost my virginity non-consensually when I was 16.

An entire module in this course is dedicated to exploring sexual trauma. I saw many sad, uncomfortable and/or trying-to-be-strong faces that week during the webinar. I myself cried the whole first half of the lesson. I was curious about my personal friends and their experiences, so I decided to do some informal research.

One friend in her 30’s opened up to me and said she has never ONCE had consensual sex the first time around. Every relationship, marriage, etc. started with nonconsensual sex. (wtf?!?!!)

Another friend of mine confided that the first time she had sex with her current boyfriend, she wasn’t ready. He tried and tried, over and over that night, with no verbal conversation initiated. Finally on the 4th or 5th try, she let him enter. She admits that while their sex life today is good, she would have preferred to build this area of their relationship on a more mutual, consensual foundation.

Still another woman in her 20’s told me that every time she has sex she cries, because it still reminds her of her very first time, when she was raped. She wonders if she will ever be able to enjoy this area of her life.

Okay. I know this is serious, really deep information. So I am going to stop here for a second and make some acknowledgements.

And PLEASE KNOW that I understand speaking in generalized terms about a massive section of a population means there are going to be many exceptions to the statements made. I totally get that, so I ask you to forgive and bear with me as I speak in generalized terms for a moment.

First, I want to honor and acknowledge the Millennials.

I feel as though male millennials have a really solid grasp on the times. They are super smart. More so than not, they understand the serious repercussions – psychologically, energetically, lawfully, financially and what have you – of molestation, rape and otherwise using another person’s body without their consent. They have been here this whole time, watching the #metoo movement play out, seeing older generations of men on TV and in the news, build empires, reach the pinnacles of their careers, and then end up in court losing it all due to their poorly planned out sexual and chauvinistic indiscretions.

I find the general millennial mindset much more premeditated.

Having learned what NOT to do by watching these men make their mistakes, and seeing the sometimes multigenerational damage that has come from treating women in such a way, their conclusion has been this: If sexy time gets less sexy because the guy has to stop and get a clear yes or no before proceeding – for the sake of his future sanity, security, reputation and even freedom – then so be it.

I applaud the millennials for not letting these crucial lessons, handed down by the Gen X and Boomers (albeit unwittingly,) fall on deaf ears. A smart, conscious crowd indeed.

Now I want to acknowledge the Slightly Older Generation – guys in their now mid–30’s through 40’s.

This is the generation known for still opening doors. They still coax the lady to walk on the inside of the street. They WANT to pick up the check and they without question yearn to provide and protect.

However this generation is a bit more primal. While primal can be sexy, let’s first pause on that so I can paint a picture for you:

30’s – 40’s Guy: he knows the lady he is currently courting is awesome. She’s attractive, confident and independent. He is insecure, and this 𝘔𝘈𝘠 𝘖𝘕𝘓𝘠 𝘉𝘌 on an unconscious level, but it has enough of an embedded presence in his psyche that he surmises if he can just get in there and mix up his chemistry with hers, he can coax a low-level addiction in her system to start to form in his favor.

This proven phenomenon dating back to primordial times relaxes the man’s worry that such an independent woman doesn’t really need him and that he may be dismissed from her life before sex ever even occurs.

As we all do, men want to feel significant in a woman’s life. Plus, there is an increased confidence for the man who has finally had sex with the woman he desires, like he can now relax, knowing that evolution will now take some of the work of his hands. More sex with her in the future can only mean an intensified addiction, thus solidifying his position as a newfound necessity in her life. Right?

Again this is GENERALLY speaking. But some men in this slightly older bracket seem to pay less attention to whether getting what they want while swimming in this super grey area is the right thing to do, but rather just go for it and worry (or not worry) about the repercussions later.

Hopefully this will relate to both generations: Last year when I was at Coachella I saw a sign hanging outside the men’s bathrooms (Mind you, just the men’s had this sign, not the women’s.) It said only the following:

Drink Water.
Wear Sunscreen.
Ask For Consent.

𝘞𝘰𝘸, I thought. They really got down to brass tacks on that one. I could just see the Official Coachella Safety Committee members meeting asking, “What are the biggest dangers that musical festival male attendees face, and how can we boil down our preventative advice as simply as possible to help them?”

I think this is great. Also, I will venture to say: So what if the first time is less sexy because the guy has to stop, establish clear communication and get verbal consent: “𝘈𝘳𝘦 𝘺𝘰𝘶 𝘳𝘦𝘢𝘥𝘺 𝘵𝘰 𝘩𝘢𝘷𝘦 𝘴𝘦𝘹 𝘸𝘪𝘵𝘩 𝘮𝘦? 𝘖𝘳 𝘸𝘰𝘶𝘭𝘥 𝘺𝘰𝘶 𝘱𝘳𝘦𝘧𝘦𝘳 𝘵𝘰 𝘸𝘢𝘪𝘵?”

I think that IS sexy!

Feeling respected? That feels sexy. Being heard, seen and understood = a seriously sexy vibe. Being confident enough to ask 𝘈𝘕𝘋 𝘉𝘌 𝘜𝘕𝘈𝘛𝘛𝘈𝘊𝘏𝘌𝘋 to whatever answer she gives, that’s a man right there.

So guys, ask for consent.

If it’s your first time becoming intimate with someone and you are looking at possibly developing a long-term relationship with her, it is 𝘚𝘖 much better to build from a foundation of mutual understanding and trust, as well as a comprehensive awareness of your partner’s needs, comfort levels and pace. Your relationship will be infinitely stronger if you begin with this thoughtful, respectful step.

And to all the guys out there reading this post right now and thinking to themselves, this is an absolute no-brainer: I salute you. If this has always been your way, and you cannot even conceive of the idea of sex without full and clear consent first, I thank you for being the man that you are. We need more of you in this world.

Please put other men onto your ways of being. Please have that conversation with a fellow guy you think needs to hear it.

Listen, let me tell you something: you may 𝘕𝘌𝘝𝘌𝘙 get credit for this. You may never hear of it again. But I can almost guarantee, there will be one or more women out there who will get to breathe easier, because 𝘠𝘖𝘜 were brave of enough to have that talk with your bro. And 𝘠𝘖𝘜 will be able to get that message across better than me or any other woman can.

Not everyone was raised to understand these things and I get that. But you were. Or if you weren’t, somehow along the way, you figured it out, and since we are all in this crazy thing called life together, it is up to us, collectively, to make this world as great as we possibly can during the short time that we walk it.

Thank you for reading this. <3

– Lian

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