Family Magazine

He Says, She Says: The Language Of Sexual Consent

By Joanigeltman @joanigeltman
With all that is going on with Judge kavanaugh and his ascent to the Supreme Court, colored by multiple accusations of sexual assault, I think it's an important time to talk to your teens about sexual consent. Who knows what they are taking away from the coverage of these accusations, and as uncomfortable as this might be for you to talk about it, talk about it you must!!! When I was an older teen and young adult, I engaged in consensual sex with men. OK don't be shocked I haven't always been 66!!! I didn't always like it, I didn't always want to, and it didn't always feel good. But I remember feeling a lot of the time that I just didn't know how to get myself out of a situation I had gotten myself into.  I didn't seem very good at communicating what I wanted and the men didn't seem very good at picking up my sometimes less than direct cues. Truth be told, I may at times have felt that it was just easier to get it over with and be on my way. At other times, I really liked the guy and in my distorted thinking felt that if I went along with it, maybe he would become my boyfriend. Never ever do I remember the guy hesitating at all... all he wanted was the sex! He was totally and completely clear about that!
Times haven't really changed that much when it comes to women and men and sex. Lord knows the news has been chock full of stories, with all the lurid details, of sexual encounters women felt a loss of control to stop. I don't want to rehash those stories here. It is not the stories that are important, it is how best we can teach our teen girls to be direct and to take care of themselves, and to teach our teen boys to understand and respect the sometimes not so direct messages the girls they are sexually engaging with are giving them. Teen boys are horny!!!! They do not have a lot of motivation to make sure that they girl they are with is 100% on board. Never mind when there is alcohol or drugs involved.
Here are some common phrases that woman say to men to convey a desire to stop the sex train from leaving the station. Below them, are the phrases men use to convince the woman the train is going to leave the station!
Imagine if you will, a guy and gal in the throes of foreplay. They both seem into it. The gal may just be enjoying the cuddling, the kissing and the gentle body caresses. The guy is like…ok that was fun; lets get on with the main event. 
The gal happy with just the previews may say things like this:
"Oh, it's late.... I have to get home" Subtext: "I don't want to go any further, this is getting out of control.  " Oh I have my period." Subtext I don't want to have sex!!! " This is going to fast for me" Subtext: This feels scary and I want to stop "I'm not ready to do this." Subtext: I don't want to hook up with you!" " Stop!!! I don't want too do this anymore. Subtext: Stop, NO! Get Off Me!!!
The guy, sensing a retreat and not wanting to give up this chance for sex replies in kind to the above: " Oh don't worry, I promise I'll get you home on time!" "Oh I don't mind, I love doing it when girls have their periods!! "Oh, but I like you so much, we're just getting close, or "OK, let's just chill for a while (but then starts right up again) " Don't be a tease!!! You started it...You've been all over me for like an hour...you can't tell me you don't want to have sex!!
I'm sure that this list could be much longer and if you have anything to add please put it in the comment section!
Here is the thing. We can't just leave the sex thing to take care of itself. The teen years set a foundation for how these young sexually active people will feel about sexual intimacy as they move into young adulthood.  Will sex become something that is mutually enjoyable or is it just a one sided exercise in taking care of your self? We need to teach our teens how to read the language of sexual consent, so that when they are adults they will be fully versed! 
I know this is hard to read. It is not easy thinking of your teen as a sexual being, but they are. They are engaging in "sexual firsts" that will set the stage for all the sexual seconds, thirds, and more as they move into adulthood. We teach them about empathy and kindness and reciprocity but rarely in the context of sexual intimacy!! Use the news stories for jumping off discussions. Don't linger on the specifics, go right to "I get you might be in a sexual situation like this, and I want to make sure you understand how to either take care of yourself so that you never feel pressured to do more than you're comfortable with (if you're a the parent of a girl), or for the parent of a boy, "I want to make sure that you understand that not all girls have the confidence yet to be direct, and clearly say no. I want you to understand how girls think, and how what they say gives you very clear cues about how far they are willing to go." You are teaching your teens to be responsible and responsive sexual partners!!! Get on that sex train!!!

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