I like some rough and tumble…

I’m not going to lie… or hide the fact. I’m a big girl… a woman that knows her own mind and definitely knows her own wants.

I like some slap and tickle.

I like being tied up. I like tying people up as well.

I am willing to try anything once… if I like it then I’ll try it again.

Remember how I said that I’m a big girl? That’s in age and understanding only… physically, I’m petite… smaller than the average. I am concerned for my safety… 

You must ask if I am willing. I must give my consent

I must be able to say clearly, out loud, “I want this”… or simply “Yes”.

It’s my body to do with as I will. My body, my rules.

If I am afraid… that is not “Yes”,

If I am unable to decide… that is not “Yes”,

If I am silent… that is not “Yes”.

Ask the question. Give me that respect.

Earn my respect.

I am willing to say “Yes”. Give me the chance to do so.

Ren R

 As we come to the end of this series, how about we lay down some rules. How can women ensure their safety during “sex play”? What are some of the things that men and women can do before and during sex to ensure that boundaries are respected? 


 

Danielle Boodoo-Fortune is a poet and artist from Trinidad. See more of Danielle’s work at her blogsite http://danielleboodoofortune.blogspot.com/

 Today we examine desire. Danielle’s wonderful painting and poetry evoke that fiery, caught-up-in-the-moment feeling we all recognise as sexual desire. Lust. Our definition of effective consent tells us that consent can be verbal or non-verbal. What are some of the actions that signal that consent has been given? Is physical arousal consent? Can our minds and bodies contradict one another? Which one wins out? Can we withdraw our consent once it’s been given? Can a person claim rape if they participated in some form of sexual activity but did not want to take it any further?

Wrapped

Wrapped is about sexuality and Christianity and the internal battle that is produced by their clash. It is about comfort, self recognition and being valued by your partner. But while the man is bareback, the woman is still fully clothed. It represents choice and comfort with your choice to wait with the knowledge that the one you have chosen is willing to wait on you if you so desire… ~Marielle Barrow

Marielle Barrow is a Trinidadian artist, scholar and  Founder / Managing Editor of Caribbean Intransit : A Caribbean Arts Journal.

 I really like this piece by Marielle. Apart from being a beautiful artwork, it says so much about a woman making her own choice about her sexuality and her partner respecting that choice and not trying to coerce her into doing something she doesn’t feel ready to do. How can couples who have different views on sex, and are at different levels of readiness to engage in sex, figure out how to maintain a successful relationship?

I’m submissive and I love it.

Hi Simone,

You know, I really didn’t think about it prior to your request but now I see how I am so opposite to your topic. As a woman in the construction industry I spent many many years aggressively showing / proving my worth. I think that also manifested itself in the bedroom with me acting very dominant. Over those years I struggled to foster a happy relationship as they were all power struggles. As I have aged, mellowed and become much more comfortable with myself and my femininity I have found that I am most content playing the ‘traditional’ role of the woman in a relationship. I’m submissive and he takes control of most if not everything. And I love it. My partner has known me all of my adult life and says he sees a marked change in me. I think one of the reasons our relationship thrives is he knew me back then, respects where I have come from, recognises my strength and still sees me as his ‘little princess’ in need of protection and gentle care. 🙂 My desire and ability to submit to him is based on a foundation of mutual respect. 

T.K

 So weigh in on this. Are male/female relationships happier when parties practice “traditional” masculine and feminine roles? Is T.K giving up her right to consent? Can one be submissive and still give consent? Do expectations about the roles of men and women make it difficult for women who are more assertive to have happy relationships?

 Graphic by Lynette Leid

Submission and Dominance: This depicts where submission and dominance are both acceptable within the realm of sexual pleasure, where the woman is laying unresisting in the lap of her partner, who freely dominates her.  It is consensual, and it is being enjoyed by both parties. ~ Portia Subran

See more from Portia Here 

 Ok, now don’t be shy. Let’s hear your views. Do you agree with Portia that submission and dominance can be consensual? Is there a difference between “submissive” and “submission”? Is “unresisting” always an indication of consent? How can you know the difference? 

 

Consent or Compliance? The slippery slope.

Sex is a messy affair. And I’m not just referring to the interlocking of body parts and the exchange of fluids. The ethics of sexual relations, the dos and don’ts of intercourse and everything that leads up to it, are areas of contention despite our bravest attempts to demystify them.

Take, for example, consent, that great determiner between a perfectly legitimate encounter and an abusive one. The first part of the word’s definition seems simple enough – permission, approval or agreement. But then we come up against compliance and the long slide down the slippery slope begins. To comply, you see, is to yield from a position of weakness. Can a sexual encounter be deemed appropriate even though one party complies?

Compliance, it seems, is the grey area – that part of the spectrum that lies between fully consensual sex and rape. The messiness starts here.

And for me, here is where the crux of the matter lies, not at consent but at the delicate balance of power that starts to tip at the point of compliance.

Sex, like any other human interaction, is shaped by the dynamics of power, perceived and real. The direction it takes depends primarily on the way both parties view themselves in relation to the other. And when one party sees itself as dominant or seeks to achieve dominance, abuse becomes a very real possibility. 


 Think about it: the boss who coerces an employee into a late-  night private meeting; the teacher who fondles a young  student; the husband who claims that his wife’s flesh is his  to do with as he pleases. What is the determining factor? Is  it the issue of consent? The employee might say ‘yes’ or ‘ok’  or whatever the catch phrase is, as might the child and  wife. But does that justify an encounter where one party  asserts and practices dominance over the other?

 I don’t think so. I believe that the human body, like the soul that it houses, is sacred, and that any attempt to dominate another human being is an act of violence, of terrorism.

Some might argue that when it comes to gender relations, the dominance of one and consequent subjugation of the other is the only way to go.  After all, society places men and women in different roles. It seems to be the natural order of things. But is it? We know of the existence of matrilineal societies, are they ‘unnatural’? By whose standards?  And even though men and women have played different roles traditionally, can we presuppose that one is beneath the other? What about the concept of partnership?

Partners may hold different functional roles, but equal standing is implied. When viewed through that prism, abuse of any kind becomes an anomaly. And sex, the messy affair, takes on a beauty all its own.

Ruth Osman, a Guyanese writer and musician, resides in Trinidad and Tobago. She has a husband and two house plants.You can find her at: http://ruthosman.tumblr.com/

 So let’s hear from you. Does saying “yes” or giving-in to sex always indicate effective consent? What are some of the reasons why a woman might comply with sexual advances when she really doesn’t want to. Does society set up the sexual roles of men and women as dominant and submissive? What kind of effect might this have on women emotionally, psychologically, physically, sexually?

Cuddle After

Cuddle After: This image is fundamentally illustrating the dynamics of the after-intercourse relations.  Both parties have remained to take part in each others’ company rather than leaving immediately.  This is more of a “there is love involved in this sexual relationship”, and thus leads the viewer to understand that it is consensual. ~ Portia Subran 

Learn more about Portia Here

 Ah, love. Basking in the afterglow. Do people in love ever consent to sex even when they’re not in the mood? How do you tell your partner that you want to try something new or that you really really really hate doing that thing that they really really like doing? Do women really know how to initiate these types of conversations?

“You’re on your own, sister. Figure it out!”

by Samantha Campbell

Consent is one of those simple-looking words that give many of us pause when asked to describe it. It seems an explanation should simply roll off the tongue but as I learned over the years, you can’t fit ‘consent’ and ‘sex’ into one tidy box.

When asked to write this piece, my mind raced back to the 11 year old girl who was alledgedly gang raped last year by at least 18 boys and men in a tiny Texas town. The girl’s neighbour horrified many by telling reporters that she was often seen unsupervised, wearing   makeup and provocative clothing, as if to suggest that she had it coming, never mind she was too young, in the eyes of the law, to agree to such acts.

Such half-baked rationalisations are shameful and far too common in sexual assualt cases, where some victims are hastily judged to be sending out the wrong signals or worse yet simply dismissed as sluts. For the record, no girl asks to be raped or otherwise assaulted. PERIOD. But this idea of sending right and wrong signals got me thinking. If consent is not often verbalised, how can we ever be sure that our partners were willing participants? 

I’m guessing this amibiguity leaves some women and men, maybe, ill-prepared for the next step. Maybe, I’m reaching but I’m reminded of stories where women intitally thought they were okay with having sex, didn’t necessarily give consent, didn’t necessarily offer any objection but felt crappy afterwards, sometimes even believing they were taken advantage of. How much of that is because we assign different roles for boys and girls in relationships?

On one side, boys are told  to ‘be the man’, ‘make it happen’ but our girls are fed the confounding drawl of “you’ll KNOW when it’s time, which I’ll bet translates in the head of a 12 year old girl to “You’re on your own, sister. Figure it out!”. And in many ways they are on their own, when at 12, 13, 14, 15, they make (or are forced to make) the decision to ‘go all the way’.

I often wonder how many teenage pregnancies were the result of girls actually saying YES to sex or girls not thinking or knowing they could say NO. It’s a scary thought that seems to get lost in our oversexed, underprepared definition of today’s youth. But I fear, very little will change if we continue to tell our young boys to ‘take the lead’ and our young girls to ‘follow the leader’.

 So lets hear from you. Do you think that we give boys and girls different messages with regard to sex? Are boys told to “make it happen” while girls are given vague messages about “knowing the right time”? What makes it difficult for girls to say “NO”? Why do half of Caribbean teen girls who’ve had sex report that their first sex was forced or somewhat forced?

Graphic by Lynette Leid   

Tracey Chan, Consent, Digital Illustration, 2011 

I decided to start off the series with this illustration by Tracey Chan because I think it so brilliantly conveys the true meaning of consent.

(If you click on the top half of the pic it will enlarge)

 Tell me what this picture says to you about sex and consent?

Sex and Consent Series

What is consent? Does silence equal consent? If you didn’t fight, is it consent? Does submissive indicate lack of consent? How is sex different when you are in control of what is happening? When you are clear about what you want and don’t want? How can women become more assertive about consent? How do you have the awkward talk about condoms, stds, anal sex? What are some of the social and cultural barriers that make it difficult for women to give effective consent?

In our week-long series on Sex and Consent, various contributors will give their take on the topic and help shed greater light on some of the issues that make Sex and Consent so problematic for women.

We want YOU to participate. We will be asking questions at the end of our posts and will also be having intermittent discussion on facebook and twitter about #sexandconsent so please keep a look out and join in discussions. 

Our main goal at WomenSpeak is to help raise consciousness about the various ways in which discrimination against women happens in our everyday lives and to provide a forum for Caribbean women to tell their personal stories. We hope that many of you will Share Your Story to help create a better understanding of the challenges women face in navigating the murky issue of Sex and Consent. 

All our posts on the topic will be tagged #consent, so have a read through of past posts on the topic as well. And most importantly Share Share Share this info – Reblog, Repost, Retweet. 

 Graphic designed by Lynette Leid