In Response to the Feministe Definition of Enthusiastic Consent

My story is one of those in which I was a partner who “doesn’t actively say ‘no’… who is silent and non-reactive, but doesn’t actively stop you when you start having sex with them.” I made it clear beforehand, even said out loud that I was “hesitant, or anxious, or confused” – all three, actually. I think a lot of people see this definition and sort of shrug it off, like not everyone gives enthusiastic consent all the time, it’s not always realistic to get it. But that’s the most damaging thing, because as I know first hand, just because someone isn’t stopping you doesn’t mean they’re on board. For me, I didn’t remain silent because I wanted it. I remained silent because I was still confused, because I was so shocked that she hadn’t listened to me as I voiced my hesitance over and over, that she was doing this anyway without even asking me, and honestly because I was sick of fighting her on it, because I knew she’d eventually get her way – she always did. And once someone starts taking an action like that, saying no can be a lot harder than people would think. She took away my agency. She took advantage of my confusion and my ultimate silence – she didn’t actually care about what I wanted. She didn’t listen to me, before, during, or after what happened, and she took my silence for consent. So if you’re under the impression that always getting enthusiastic consent isn’t realistic, think again. And to everyone reading this: Listen. Never persuade. If you aren’t 100% clear on the other person’s desires, just ask. And when in doubt, stop.


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