What’s so bad about verbal consent?

Some time ago JeffMach posted an excellent writing on Fetlife tearing down the moronic idea that explicit verbal consent isn’t sexy. It’s not terribly long and you should go read it. My favourite part is the last paragraph:

If you, as a dominant, can’t make informed consent sexy, that’s not because informed consent can’t be sexy, it’s because you aren’t skilled enough to be dominant with other people.

Now, that seems pretty clear, right? So of course the whiny little brat who inspired that takedown came back to comment:

I did not say “verbal consent is wrong”, I gave a very specific example of a highly inept form of verbal consent, and said that it was less sexy than a much more natural form of non-verbal consent.

So…. you’re saying that if someone is completely fucking terrible at something, it’s not sexy? MIND. BLOWN.

Sure, if you do the robot-voice “WILL YOU PERMIT ME TO FONDLE YOUR MAMMARY GLANDS?” that’s not a turn on. You know what else isn’t a turn on? Wandering around lost with your date because you forgot to look up directions to the restaurant. Missing the movie you invited your date to because you got the show time wrong and asked them to meet you an hour after the movie actually started. Forgetting your wallet and having to ask your date for bus fare so you can get home. Incompetence in general is not sexy, which I’m sure comes as a terrible shock to you all.

Leaving aside the ridiculous strawman idea that explicit verbal consent can’t be sexy, who fucking cares if it’s not sexy? Not scaring your date is only a bazillion times more important than doing everything in the sexiest possible manner. I want to be entirely clear here: it is at best a complete turnoff when someone assumes they can touch me and at worst it makes me afraid for my safety.

Afraid. For. My. Safety.

Is that really the outcome you’re going for on a date? Making her afraid for her safety? You really think that’s better than a potentially awkward “I’d love to kiss you”? If you really think that, then just fuck off. You deserve to stay single and your dick deserves to stay dry if you think it’s better to risk scaring the hell out of someone than to put on your big kid pants and fucking ask her what she wants.

Aside from the fact that it doesn’t fucking matter if getting explicit verbal consent isn’t sexy, it’s absolutely trivial to make it sexy. “I don’t know, do you think you deserve a kiss?” “Get over here if you want a kiss” “Tell me how badly you want to me to kiss you” “I’m not convinced. Beg like you mean it.” And that’s why I’m such a fan of that last paragraph in JeffMach’s writing. It’s so fucking easy to get it right, if you can’t manage that you simply have no business dominating anyone.

2 thoughts on “What’s so bad about verbal consent?

  1. “I don’t know, do you think you deserve a kiss?” “Get over here if you want a kiss” “Tell me how badly you want to me to kiss you” “I’m not convinced. Beg like you mean it.”

    HOT. 😀

    I’ve seen a rash of very…boring…fiction written by young folks who are Very Earnest about consent but aren’t so great at telling a good story or making things sexy. It makes me roll my eyes a bit, because I want more going on than just “Can I take your shirt off?” But that’s not the fault of verbal consent! It’s the fault of inept fiction writers. Same goes for real-life consent. And I’d rather a bit of awkwardness than inadvertently or selfishly distressing someone. Plus, like you said…making it fun and sexy isn’t hard at all, really.

    Sometimes I think the “but waaaaah, verbal consent is such a burden!” stuff is more from people who don’t want to actually have to check in than anything. Maybe that’s uncharitable of me.

    • Sometimes I think the “but waaaaah, verbal consent is such a burden!” stuff is more from people who don’t want to actually have to check in than anything. Maybe that’s uncharitable of me.

      Well if it’s uncharitable, then I’m uncharitable too 😛 I mean, I can understand how a lifetime of absorbing terrible ideas about “breaking the mood” from basically all mainstream media would make a person think that “breaking the mood” is the worst thing you could possibly do on a date, but if you’re part of the kink scene you’ve already had to throw off a lot of cultural programming about how you’re supposed to treat people, so what’s one more piece?

      I totally get the appeal of the “We didn’t even have to talk about it, we both Just Knew” fantasy, it just infuriates me when people decide their date’s sense of safety is less important than chasing that fantasy.

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