If you can’t catch it from the title…this is about sex, consent, tricky issues, and the like.

If this seems like too much information, not your cup of tea, or might be triggering…feel more than free to find other reading material.

A little while ago, I was reading Corinne’s piece on sexual assault awareness

And I got caught at this quote.

Power and sex cannot be disentangled, and there is so much grey area. Consent is active, it is not silence or doubt, it is the screamed, whispered, and winked yes. It is not saying yes through gritted teeth after saying no seventeen times. …So take back the night, the day, the walk home, the lover’s embrace, and your own ability to say “yes” and “no”. (emphasis added)

Consent is not doubt.

It’s not? It’s not! It’s not…

Rewind some years. I’m talking to the then ex-to-be…and we’re going over everything, in a way that only people falling for each other can do. Every detail of our attraction, our doubts, our fears, our feelings…everything is going back and forth. It hasn’t always been this way. A half an hour before, I was not very talkative. I didn’t know what I was supposed to be saying. I wasn’t at all comfortable talking about the fact that I was seriously attracted to her, and even less so about the fact that she for some odd reason seemed to be in to me.

“What does your head say?”

I could answer that easily.

“What does your heart say?”

Little trickier.

“What does your body say?”

I almost didn’t answer, so I answered very quickly, blurting my response before i could think better of it.

And we went back and forth, repeating our litany of desire to each other.

I had inherited, and then created for myself a view of sex that was predicated on self-righteousness and whole lot of fear. Babies and social diseases went hand in hand, the enforcers of nature, crashing down on unsuspecting libertines. But in the trance of that conversation, these phobias began their slow dissapation. There was no lightning bolt, no sudden awakening. Just new thoughts starting to take root. She can be extremely persuasive when she wants to be, and that kept me from even starting in on anything I might have previously said.

When we finally got time and space to ourselves…I think I knew what was going to happen.

Ready was a different matter. I said some no’s. And I said yes, too. I wasn’t afraid…well, actually I was. Afraid of my own insufficiency, afraid of being alone, afraid I would mess this up. I certainly wasn’t afraid of her…

I doubted. About if I was going to be rejected if I said no…if I would ever get another chance. I doubted if I was ready. I doubted about a lot of things.

The details are hers and mine alone, and so I’m leaving them out. For our story, we need only note that I was left with a lot of questions. I enjoyed myself, even when I thought I wouldn’t. It was awkward. I wasn’t sure I was good enough to her, especially when she was more experienced than I was. Had I wanted that all to happen? Did that matter?

We read the newspaper together the next morning, like an old married couple. And somewhere in that, we kissed…trading a chocolate mint back and forth…and all of that doubt dissapeared. She was still in to me. And she was going to be patient. And I found great comfort and meaning in being in her life. To this day, this is one of my sweetest memories.

Unfortunatly, this was all very short lived. Breakups happen, messy ones take effort. And as I worked very slowly to untangle our lives that had stuck together in such a short amount of time…

The doubts started coming back. Did my consent mean anything if I didn’t know what i was consenting to? How does anyone agree to something for the first time? Would she have really stopped? Hadn’t I said no? And wasn’t the worst of it that I agreed only because I was afraid of rejection?

Three years on…I have a different perspective. I thought what I needed to think then to pull ourselves apart. I was still in the middle of my fear of sex, even if she had broken it’s total hold on me. I was still very unsure of my idenity. I hadn’t yet made meaningful progress in interrupting my own participation in racism, something that haunted the edges of our time together. Simply…I had a lot of growing up to do.

Three years on, I can see more clearly all the issues that danced around me, and the ones that followed her…and I can analyze why things were tricky. But once again, I’m letting go of that doubt. I’m going back to that morning. I had taken the outcome, and used the trust i had built in that moment cover, repair, and re-signify what had happened to get me there.

And I want to do that again. I stand now, and say yes to all those memories. That night, the morning, the breakup, the good, and the bad and everything since. And I’m not just saying this because it is. I’m saying, choosing “yes” to the history we’ve written already. And I’m saying yes to the history we’re writing now. My yes is my trust of who she is, who I am, and the who we were/are together.

This entry is dedicated to someone who knows who she is, in more ways than one…who will always be crazy, sexy, cool…

nostalgically yours,

-sly

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