Affirmative consent not only removes any doubt about whether a situation was mutual, it makes for better sex, too.
A bold idea is gaining traction on America’s college campuses: Sex is a collaborative communication, not just a green light to use someone’s body as an orgasm-procurement device. Students are being taught to practice affirmative consent, moving beyond the old “no means no” to the more cooperative “yes means yes.” Instead of putting the onus on an individual to fend off unwanted sexual activity, the responsibility to prevent rape is on everybody—each participant needs to get (and give) clear, enthusiastic indications of being on board.
All affirmative consent means is that everyone agrees to what is happening. You have to be old enough/able to understand the situation, and you have to be free from pressure—that is, just as easily free to say “no” as “yes.” At any time, consent can be revoked. Making sure your partner is game is an ongoing process, and please note: It’s something that happens naturally if you’re actually any good at sex.
A good lover bases their movements and pacing upon reading how their partner is responding. I don’t just round the next base because I want to, that is, but because wewant to. For those whodon’t pay attention to the other person’s pleasure, on the other hand, getting affirmative consent is indeed an extra step. So understand: Some body part getting hard or wet isn’t the same as giving consent. Those are things bodies do, usually outside conscious control. That’s why it’s a good idea to include verbal communication, too. Some worry about sounding too businesslike and killing the vibe, but there’s no rule that says you can’t make the question sound romantic—or completely filthy dirty.