An initiative of the National Women’s Council of Ireland


Consent Is Sexy?

January 07, 2014 at 3:05

An anonymous contributor shares some thoughts and her experiences with rape culture.

Contains a frank description of sexual assault.


I am nothing if not candid about sex. Someone told me once that beyond being necessary, consent is sexy and I refused to believe it. Until I went home and thought about it. I've always been explicit about what I want when it comes to sex. How much, how often, with whom and within what boundaries. I just never realised that this was also my way of setting my own parameters and remaining comfortable in them.

So when I found myself in the position, for the first time ever, with a person who didn't take my boundaries as seriously as I did, I was shell shocked to say the least.

I think about unpleasant things like rape and rape culture a LOT. I get lost in the numerous ways these issues raise their ugly heads. I think feminism, as a body of thought and ideology for study, is one of the most interesting and important aspects of the world we live in. Much in the same way that some people are obsessed with DR. Who or vintage cars. Whatever.

So I bring this guy to my bed after a night of surprisingly interesting conversation, some of which is taken up by talking about consent issues. Because I love explaining that shit to someone who has never heard of it. Which means I have lots to talk about with lots of people because beyond the obvious 'don't rape and attack a total stranger' most guys think they have it covered with "no means no."

The sequence of events as I expected them to unfold was explicitly explained, by me, before we went anywhere. We could have a great time but there would be no sex. I wasn't in the mood and there was no condoms to hand anyways. Hurray.

Except that sometime in the middle of "having a great time" I felt his penis being pushed inside me. I shouted at him and tried to wriggle away,which he responded to by attempting one more thrust, to change my mind. As though his penis had magical powers of persuasion.

It was his attitude as he was getting dressed to leave my house that affected me the most. He couldn't understand why I was so angry. We were having fun, he thought I wanted it, there was no need to get upset because it was only for a second.

I stood in front of him in a ridiculously oversized fluffy dressing gown and my mind was literally blown because I could see that he genuinely had no idea how out of bounds his actions were.

"You were explicitly told that we were not going to have sex. Repeatedly. Putting your dick in someone who doesn't want it there is what is commonly known as rape in many circles." I told him.

He looked wounded. Another indication that he genuinely felt vindicated by the fact that we had been having such a good time. So good that he didn't need to seek my permission to take things further.

He recovered quickly, scathingly telling me to be careful about throwing words like that around. It wasn't at the time, and isn't now, a word I would use to describe what happened, but in his mind the two were worlds apart. There was nothing I could say to bridge the gap in his understanding.

He left and I cried for about fifteen minutes, mentally berating myself for allowing such a thing to happen. For getting myself into that situation, before I realised that regardless of the situation I should always have the right to control what happens to my body. That's what I advocate for every day, in very small ways. That's what I believe to my very core but in that moment, in the dark, it is so easy to misplace that belief.

So I called my best friend and he didn't admonish me for being stupid, he didn't say I told you so and he didn't warn me to be more careful in future.

He simply said "I suppose this is why you're always banging on about proper sex education and stuff."