Wednesday, February 10, 2016

No Take Backsies: Sexual "Politeness"

It occurred to me while I was responding to a comment on a post about kissing that I have an unfortunate quality that is not entirely beneficial to my well-being. For whatever you might say about my peculiar vanilla manners (I am excessively awkward due to my anxiety disorder), I seem to be unfailingly polite when it comes to sexual liberties. The thing is, I am very bad at the word no. I can shut things down if I do a preemptive strike, but once I get past a certain point in proceedings, I feel like it would be rude to refuse or suddenly stop whatever is happening. Strange, isn't it?

I read posts about how consent should be enthusiastic, and how you can say no in the middle of an encounter if you don't like it, but I've never really felt that way. I've never relied on explicit consent. I figure, if I don't say no, then it's on me. Instead of if it's not a yes, it's a no, I operate more around if it's not a no, it's an okay whatever. Once I've given consent, or at least not explicitly denied it, I would feel bad about revoking it in the middle.

I realize this is bad. I'm not sure how I acquired this particular quirk. I don't know if it's a result of having a largely submissive personality or perhaps a result of my disorder. I don't like to upset people and I read too much into body language and tone. Because of this, I have allowed things to happen that I wasn't really okay with, but I didn't want to make the other person feel bad.

I mentioned Lizard Guy in A Handful of Kisses. I didn't really want to kiss him, and I certainly didn't want to continue after he turned out to be damned awful at it, but I couldn't make myself shove him away. Because that would be rude, right? I didn't want to have that almost-threesome with my ex and one of my play partners, but I'd teased him about it as a joke, so I suppose I felt obligated. There was one day shortly after our first Christmas together where we spent the day together and had sex. I didn't enjoy it. I was more bored than anything, which made no sense to me, because I thought it should at least hurt since it was only the second time. But I couldn't express my confusion or ask the questions I needed to ask, because it most certainly would have upset him.

I let a play partner top me when I didn't want to. We were dabbling in platonic power exchange at the time and when I said I didn't really want to, her dom said something about "service subbing" so I did it anyway. I just got angrier and angrier every time she hit me, but I didn't say no.

I'm just not good at no. I see it even in my everyday encounters. I am the queen of noncommittal answers. If someone asks my opinion, I might equivocate rather than be truthful to avoid hurt feelings. If someone asks me if I want to do something, and the answer is no, whatever I say won't be enthusiastic, but I almost never flat out say no. I think this is why I find Daddy's habit of not saying no to me so frustrating. I can't say no, so I need him to do it for me. I think if he knew just how permissive I really am, he wouldn't be so set on this "steering" technique he's got going.

I really do wish I were more assertive. I wish I weren't so permissive for the sake of politeness. It's not a terribly healthy habit. It's a wonder I haven't gotten myself into even more unpleasant situations.

Thinking of all of this, it begs the question. Can you violate your own consent? I'm not quite sure how it would work, but if you can, I would say I've done it. But then, I suppose we all do that at some point.


  1. This has me thinking. And I confess to similar dilemmas and desires to please and not upset people ... And also multiple failures to say no when I should have..
    But I think some of the language around consent presumes knowing you can say no enables or empowers you to say no... And it's not always the case, so how to correct the quirk? How can folks like us truly be empowered to say no and put ourselves first when we 'need' to not just want to... because otherwise do we risk shifting responsibility to another for our actions and how can other people be convinced of our consent (when we do want it)?
    Thank you for the food for thought
    (Ps am enjoying unmasked a lot)

    1. I mostly solve the problem by avoiding complicated situations entirely. It's easier when in a relationship because then I just don't get into intimate situations with others, a few play partners excepting. I don't consider the onus of my consent to be on the active party. Enthusiastic consent for me would be enthusiastic participation, which is a far cry from the passive acceptance of the situations in which I might have preferred to say no. But I have never considered it the active party's responsibility in those situations. I take full responsibility for my silence. I allowed it to happen regardless of how I felt about it and that is entirely on me.

      I have always been more prone to expressing implicit consent rather than explicit consent. Essentially, the question is never actually asked. I either let it happen, enthusiastically engage, or I don't participate at all.

      I think the "well, you can always say no" thing people hand out to newbies is a bit off the mark. One might have the capacity but not the ability to say no, and few people seem to explore that aspect of it when they discuss consent.

      Also, yay! Someone else likes my story!

  2. I enjoyed this story and also find it hard to say no,
    fortunately I have always been as dirty minded as my partners, but this wasn't always guaranteed

  3. i have such a hard time saying no too :( and then i find myself there fucking someone, thinking, 'i really don't wanna be doing this!' and getting all frustrated and angry.

    1. I've never gotten quite that far, but I've almost made those kind of mistakes. Fate had other plans, fortunately.