Sex and The Crescent City: Consent is Sexy

In order to officially kick off our Sex and The Crescent City series, I couldn’t think of a better place to start than with a concept that is (almost) too simple, yet consistently abused, manipulated, and in some instances, ignored altogether.

Say it with me now: C-O-N-S-E-N-T!!!!!!!!!!

At age 14, I had my first French kiss with a boy who is still my friend today. In proper eighth grade fashion, my girlfriends set up the whole thing, so I knew what was going to happen well before he even approached me. When he did, he said a bunch of things that I would be too nervous to recall later, and then finallyhe asked if he could kiss me.

I accepted, locked lips with him for what was probably fifteen seconds, and ran back to my friends, giddy and somehow transformed. He ran back to his and told them that I had no idea what I was doing; that I had just started hooking up and was already bad at it (in hindsight, I can’t figure out why he thought that he was the expert). When this gossip got back to me, I was crushed. I thought that my first “real” kiss was ruined, and that his unkind words would be the only thing that I’d remember from the experience.

He apologized, I got better at kissing, and now we both chuckle whenever we think back on that night. I thought that his rumor would haunt me forever, but at 21, It’s his asking to kiss me that still touches my cold heart.

My hookups at Tulane have been slightly different from that night in eighth grade, though a similar form of pettiness upholds. There have been numerous occasions where a guy has leaned in without asking if I wanted it. On some of those occasions, I did want it, and his silent smoothness came off as sexy. On other occasions, I cringed and wondered why he thought I needed to see his whiteheads up close. This is known as the grey zone: a space in which sexual encounters are not clearly invited or rejected; where those involved may feel uncomfortable or violated but something else pushes them forward (guilt, feeling as though it’s too late to stop, shame, intoxication, the list goes on.)

Allowing someone to buy me a drink or dance with me is not the same as consent. But all too often, I hear friends talk about how agreeing to a date party means agreeing to hook up. I could be wrong (which I’m not), but I believe that those are two completely different questions.

The bottom line is: consent is sexy. I simply cannot think of a time when a guy asked for my permission before advancing and it wasn’t an immediate turn-on.

“Can I kiss you?”

“Do you like this?”

And a personal favorite: “What do you want?”

Taking a step back to pose these questions is never going to kill the mood. Crossing a line, especially one that you didn’t bother to ask was there, definitely will.

COVER PHOTO: Justin Haber

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