lessons in consent

This was originally written back in 2017. It was around the time Kitty Stryker’s anthology Ask was coming out, and I think Stryker had some post that inspired me. I picked it back up in 2020, and have since edited and added to it. Thanks to Jenna for betareading this.

Content note: We often hear consent applies to situations beyond sex, and this piece is an attempt to describe what I’ve learned about consent in my actions towards others in daily life. I’m not sure what content warnings are applicable (for example, this ranges from sex to giving unwanted hugs). If you have any questions, please feel free to reach out. This is also NSFW because of sex.

Word count: ~1,900


My mother does many things right by me. One of them is teaching me to listen and obey when people say stop. At eight, I know no meant no, do not pass go, do not collect $200.

I am an only child, and when I have playmates over, the moment one of them says no or stop, my mother is listening to make sure I obey.

She never gives me the sex talk, but this lesson stays in my heart, even if it does need some polishing.

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if you wanna be my lover

you gotta fill out this application.

I created this application half in exasperation at men sexualizing me (thus some of the flipness) and half because I am serious about communication. While this might not be your exact situation, I think you can adjust this for your own purposes – COVID hangouts, cuddle puddles, new friend dates, whatever’s clever. These questions aren’t new by any means, but I hope they get you thinking about what you want.

Please free to take what is handy to you, adapt as you need, and discard the rest.

(The Republican question specifically is actually asking: “do your politics undermine my right to exist as a person in this world?” But I phrased it the way I did to troll people. And yes, when I IRL said “Republicans need not apply,” I got some pissed people in my inbox. *shrug* This pussy don’t pop for you, not sorry.)

Credit:

  • thanks to Octavia, who encouraged me when I said, “I’m tempted to just interview dudes who want to sleep with me, including asking for their exes as references.”
  • Some of these questions were directly inspired by Midori and Zoe Ligon’s video.

[Name here],

Your interest in having sex with me has been noted. Please respond to the following questions, and I will reply to you at my leisure.

Basics

  • Are you a Republican? Y/N
  • What name should I call you?
  • What are your pronouns?
  • Best way to contact you? I will use this for any subsequent contact and/or to let you know if I test positive for COVID or an STI.
  • Does the experience you want include just me and you, or does it involve additional people? If the latter, please have each individual fill out their own application.
  • Why should I share the gift of my time and attention with you? Let alone my body?
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consent in everyday life: family, culture, & in/sincere yes/nos

When articles about enthusiastic consent began flooding my FB feed years ago, I eagerly waited for someone to address it from a Chinese-American perspective (or any POC cultural perspective really).  Finally, I thought, someone will write something that speaks to my life. 

I knew there was something to be said about saying yes and no when you (didn’t) meant it, the strange rules I’d learned from my mother, and being Chinese-American.  I didn’t want to have to sketch out my messy thoughts.   But I never found an article about consent and race, so I did my best here.

Nora Samaran uses her blog to explore “partly formed ideas,” so I’m reminding myself it’s okay to do the same.  It’s okay to post a piece that doesn’t have a clear point/goal in mind. That said, if you have suggestions for a better title, let me know!


I miss my best friend’s wedding because of social nicety.  She asks me once, twice, three times.  If I was really living the fairy tale life, the third time I would’ve said yes.  Instead I say no, times four and five as well.

I tell my mother about it, and she agrees I did the right thing.

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