How do you know for sure that she has consented?

Actual conversation:

Couple naked on a bed, doing sexy stuff.

Guy: Wait, should I be checking in with you that you are consenting, like that college consent course said?

Her: We just spent an hour chatting on the sofa, establishing what was and wasn’t on the menu.

Guy: That was establishing consent?

Her: Yes. What did you think it was?

Guy: But doesn’t everyone always do that?

Her: No. Lots of men try to Oops women into sex.

Guy: “Oops ”?

Her: They are watching a film. He puts his arm around her shoulder. Oops, his hand is touching her breast. He moves a bit. Oops, he is touching her nipple. No screaming yet, so he shifts around, and Oops, his hand is inside her top. She hasn’t pushed him away, so he reaches for the Pringles, and Oops, now his other hand is heading for her knickers. And so it continues until Oops, his dick is inside her. And with no actual discussion of consent anywhere. He’s just waiting for her to shout No!

Guy: That’s insane! Why would any man do that when you could drink coffee and find out what sort of kinky shit she wants to do?


Short answer, you know she has consented because you have discussed it first. Then any change of consent is a simple matter of modifying what was discussed.


This is an answer I posted on Quora to the question, “How do I know for sure she has consented?”


It seemed pretty simple to me. You discuss what you want, rather than worrying that you might ruin the mood and cause her to say, “No.” Newsflash, If she says no when she’s got time to think about it, then you really shouldn’t be having sex with her.

But I got dozens of answers insisting that the way to do it was to keep pushing for more, and she would say, “No” when she withdrew consent. Quite a few from women as well as men. Women who said they would get up and walk out if the guy asked them for verbal consent. He’s supposed to read her mind, damnit.

Also, a lot of men who were highly indignant at the idea that woman would not feel 100% safe to say, “No” at any point, and that she might be afraid withdrawing consent would result in an angry, pissed-off aroused man who could be unpleasant if not dangerous.

I made the point that if she was keen on kissing and caressing over her clothes, and this was agreed, then both of them got to enjoy the kissing and caressing without expecting it to turn into more. But without the discussion, she couldn’t enjoy it because she was waiting for the hands over her clothes to turn into hands under her clothes, and then she would have to face the awkward scene where she said, “That’s enough, I want to go home now.” But both men and women told me I was out of my mind, sex should be organic, with him reading her body language and just knowing by instinct if she has withdrawn consent.

And of course, the pre-sex discussion also lets you cover birth control and STI status. When you are both naked and sweaty is not the time to discover you don’t have condoms and one of you has herpes.


About Eileen Gormley

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