My Rant On Teaching Consent and the Sex Before Marriage Debate

By Taylor Blasko

So this blog is a direct response to an article that one of my friends shared on Facebook entitled, “She Only Said ‘Yes’ Once.” Here is the link to the blog to make it clearer for you what I’m about to talk about:

This blog basically says that society has ruined what sex is “supposed” to be and puts people who wait to have sex before marriage on a pedestal. Because of course they’re the ones that are doing it the right way. As the title suggests, it also says that if you wait to have sex until marriage you only say “yes” once. But do you? I think saying that implies some very dangerous things that should not be applied to twenty first century society. I thought we moved past the idea of the 1950’s where women were merely property? Didn’t you? It seems not….

The article talks about how the answer was always “no” in his heart and in his then girlfriend’s heart to sleeping together. Which is fine, I’m not saying that’s not a choice that nobody is allowed to make. If you truly feel like you don’t want to have sex before marriage for a religious or otherwise personal reason, more power to ya. But this blog then goes on to say that once him and his wife said “yes” at the altar in front of god, “She has never had to say it again.  She said “yes” only once.  She meant it to last.  I meant it to last.  It has lasted fourteen years.  It will remain in effect until death parts us.”

Okay, does that sound all sentimental and cute if you don’t give it a second thought. Maybe, I’ll admit it. But what are you really saying? Are you saying that she only had to give her consent once? One time? And then what? After that ONE time of consent you automatically own her now? She is never allowed to say no again? The whole base of this article basically alludes to the fact that we don’t need to teach people what consent is…because people shouldn’t be having sex before marriage (which that’s in your Christian-ideals world of practicing abstinence, but not everyone is Christian, sorry).

And the blog gives off the feeling that our media has “ruined” sex. Which, I’m not going to sit here and argue that the media hasn’t sexualized and objectified women specifically and done some pretty horrible things within the industry, but you can’t say it was ruined. In the blog the author implies that things used to be fine…you know, when everyone practiced abstinence because if you didn’t you would be stoned or humiliated to death. Do you really think though that this meant that people didn’t have sex before marriage? Because news flash, they did, they just had to cover it up because it was unacceptable in society. Is that the society you want back? The one where everyone needed to be super secretive about being sexual beings and we all had to pretend that we were never once horny in our lives? Yea, that’s super realistic. Oh, or the one where women had no say in their bodies and the man could just impregnate her because she wasn’t allowed access to birth control. Oh okay, that one.

But anyway, back to what I was saying about consent, just because she says yes at the altar doesn’t mean she isn’t going to come home from work exhausted and irritated and snippy. Each person in a relationship is allowed to have feelings. Including those of irritation and anger. If she is in this mood maybe she doesn’t want to have sex. But do you just imagine that you own her now and since she said yes once that that means she has to say yes every time? This is the problem. You sir are part of the problem with why it’s so hard for people to wrap their heads around consent. If I’m in a situation of a sexual encounter I’m allowed to say I don’t want sex. I’m allowed to not engage in sexual acts at all. I’m allowed to start engaging and change my mind and withdraw my consent. So are you. Nobody is obligated to have sex because they said they would that one time. WHAT IS SO HARD TO UNDERSTAND ABOUT THAT??!?!? I don’t need to want sex every second of every day of my life. And I especially shouldn’t be forced to want sex every second of every day that the person that wants to have sex with me want to have sex. Period. Consent is ongoing. It doesn’t stop being a question or an issue even if you do wait to have sex until after marriage and even if you only ever have sex with one partner. Every single sexual encounter still requires there to be consent from both parties to continue. Whether I’m married to you or not.

You claim that asking for consent isn’t romantic, “Somehow that seemed extraordinarily out of place to this young man, that one would have to pause the progression of an intimate encounter to ask, over and over again, “May I do this now?” Those aren’t exactly words of passion and romance, are they?” But okay, I’m SOOOO sorry that my need for safety and safe spaces is ruining your sexy time. I’m so fucking sorry. You talk about this in terms of teaching a class consent and coming up with less direct and awkward ways of asking for consent, “They wanted to come up with a way of asking, ‘Can I do this to you now?’ without actually sounding like an alien from another planet.  Many of their suggestions were too vague or nonspecific, but finally they settled on one that they could all agree on. Two simple words: ‘You good?'” Which, okay I’m going to ignore the fact that we have this idea in our heads that boys need to ask permission to “do things to girls,” because it shouldn’t be men manipulating women, sex should be an act of enjoyment together, not manipulation. But anyway, this is fine I feel. If you want to ask for consent you can ask, “You good?” but I think there needs to be boundaries beforehand that layout what that question really means, or even in the moment make it clear that you are asking if they are comfortable with what is happening.

But then you go and debase this whole idea that we should teach consent to teenagers and say, “The answer is no.  I’m not good.  You’re not good.  None of this is good.  This is not what sex is for.  This is not what love is for.  We’ve ruined it. Sex has become so detached from anything meaningful, personal, and private.” Oh okay, so we should just get rid of consent, we should allow men to do whatever they want to women as long as they wife them up first. Kay, got it. And this kind of ties back to my previous blog about gender norms and husband hunting. If you’re really just going out to find someone that fits the “husband mold” so that you can finally marry them and lose your virginity without even getting to know them, you should probably rethink your decisions. Are you doing this because this is what you truly want? Are you doing this because your parents have told you time and time again that this is the way you have to do it? Are you doing this because you (rightfully so) want to experiment and learn about your own body but you have no way of doing so unless you actually marry someone and commit your whole life to them first?

And again, why do we try to hide the fact that humans are mammals and are therefore sexual beings? It’s not wrong to want to experiment or learn about your own body. It’s not. And we need to stop teaching young adults that it is.

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