Note: This article deals with consent. If that’s an issue for you, please enjoy these sex toy reviews instead.
My younger sister called me on the way home from a date to tell me all about it (also, if I go missing after this is published, she found out I wrote about her and killed me). The date went well, and at the end, he asked if she wanted to come back to his place. She declined. She asked me if I thought it was okay that she didn’t want to go home with him, and mumbled something about being worried she would come off “as a tease” for not going home with him.
So in true big sister fashion, I’m going to give you all the same unsolicited advice I gave my sister:
There is no such thing as being a “tease.”
I think it’s impossible for someone to be a “tease” because that implies that there was some unspoken agreement you didn’t follow through with or that sex is somehow a right rather than a privilege. It’s our patriarchal society’s way of shaming women for not wanting to have sex, the same way we shame them for having it—and it’s bullshit.
I don’t care how many dinners, movies, or drinks the person you’re dating pays for. I don’t care if halfway through the date you lean over and seductively whisper that you can’t wait to fuck them or if you’re already in the middle of fucking them—if at ANY point, you change your mind about what you want to do or what you’re comfortable with, that’s completely okay, and the other person needs to respect your choice.
Changing your mind or saying no doesn’t make you a tease, a bitch, or any other term; you’re a person and you’re allowed to change your mind. And if at the end of the date (or the beginning, or middle, or any other time) you want to go have safe, consensual sex—GO FOR IT!
My sister’s concern over being a tease makes me worry that down the line, with this date or another, she’ll be in a situation where she doesn’t feel she had the right to say “no” or won’t feel comfortable saying it. There’s a lot of things wrong with how people are taught about consent (like that it’s not taught at all), and this is definitely one of them.
On behalf of all older sisters out there, here are 5 things you all need to know about consent:
1. You Can Say No At Any Point
It does matter what you’re wearing, if it’s your 1st date or your 25th, if you’re already naked and fooling around—you can change your mind, and no still means no. If at any point you say no, and the other person doesn’t respect that, that’s sexual assault. Don’t worry about the person you’re with having expectations or that you’ll be disappointing them if you say no; if you’re unsure or uncomfortable with how things are progressing you need to speak up. Anyone worth being with will understand.
“If I’m laying down with a man, butt-naked, and his condom is on, and I say, ‘You know what? No. I don’t want to do this. I changed my mind,’ that means no. That means f**king no. That’s it. It doesn’t matter how far I take it or what I have on. When I say no, it means no.”
– Amber Rose, explaining consent on the “It’s Not You, It’s Men” show
2. Consenting Only Gives Consent For That Particular Thing
If you agree to go home with someone, you’re not agreeing to kiss them or have sex with them. Agreeing to one type of touch isn’t consenting to another. Consenting to vaginal sex does not mean you consent to anal sex. Consenting to sex on a Wednesday doesn’t mean you’re consenting to sex on Saturday. Consent is given for individual things and should be given for every step of the way.
3. What is Enthusiastic Consent?
Enthusiastic consent is someone expressing that they’re excited, comfortable, happy, and very into what’s happening, and ideally it should be communicated verbally. It emphasizes that silence is not consent, that a coerced or hesitant “yes” is not consent, and that “no means no” (which suggests anything your partner doesn’t object to is okay) isn’t enough. Instead it follows the “yes means yes” philosophy that the only real consent is enthusiastic consent.
It’s a simple concept, and we all know if someone is being enthusiastic or not. Let’s look at an example that has nothing to do with sex: let’s say you have two friends, and you text them both asking if they want to go see a movie. One friend takes days to text you back to you and finally says, “I’m not sure I’ll like that movie, but I guess I’ll go see it.” The other friend texts you constantly and tells you how excited they are to see you, how great they think the movie will be, how hanging out together is going to be a lot of fun— it’s clear which friend is enthusiastically consenting to go to the movie and which friend is passively agreeing to go see it.
It’s not rocket science to figure out when someone is really into something, but don’t make any assumptions. Ask for permission and have them express their enthusiasm verbally so that there’s never any confusion. If you’re ever not sure if you have consent, ask, and take a maybe as a no. If you’re unsure if you want to give consent, err on the side of caution—there will be other opportunities, and you can always change your mind and say yes when you’re ready.
There are some situations where consent cannot be given, such as if a person is unconscious or asleep, if they’re a minor, or if someone is incapacitated by drugs or alcohol, etc.
4. Getting Consent is SEXY AF!
Anyone who says that asking for consent from their partner “kills the moment” has absolutely NO creativity. What’s sexier than hearing someone voice aloud how much they want you? Asking someone for consent doesn’t have to be some awful clinical moment where all the action stops and someone awkwardly stumbles over asking to touch you (let’s be honest though, awkwardness can be charming as hell).
You can throw in some dirty talk—
“Baby, I can’t wait to taste you. Would you like it if I licked your pussy?”
“Do you like it when I lick your cock?”
“Show me where you want me to touch you.”
Or be proactive about providing consent and giving your partner feedback, tell them what you like, where you want to be touched, and what feels good.
5. Talk About Sex and Consent
We need to learn to be more comfortable discussing sex. Communication is the key to consent, to better sex, to fulfilling fantasies and having great relationships. So let’s start that conversation here. You don’t have to wait for someone to ask for consent to give it: tell the person you’re with if you’re not comfortable with something, or tell them if there’s something specific you want (and ask them if that’s something they want too). “In every sexual encounter, each of us has just as much responsibility to provide continuous enthusiastic consent as we have to obtain it.” Tell your partner how you like to be touched and what does or doesn’t feel good—it can be scary to talk about what you want but practice makes perfect (bonus: it also makes for much, much better sex).
Bonus Tip: What to do when someone tells you “no.”
I want you to look at the person and say these words “thank you for taking care of yourself.”
Are you wondering why you’re thanking someone who just shot you down? That’s because they didn’t reject you, they’re taking care of themselves. These wise words from Reid Mihalko are all about encouraging people to say no when they’re a no, and training your brain to think of it in a positive way (it’ll help you feel a lot less disappointed).
Still not sure what consent is all about? Click the video below to enjoy some Consent Tea.
Here are some other great resources if you’re looking for additional information about consent:
• “Consent 101” – Teen Vogue
• “Driver’s Ed for the Sexual Superhighway: Navigating Consent” – Scarlet Teen
• “What is Consent” – RAINN