Not an Odalisque

Consent, Non-consent, and “Get The Hell Away From Me!”

with 43 comments

Kinky people tend to have, or say they have, a profound belief in consent. When playing with fire (hard limit, no thank you), a nuanced understanding of how people agree to things is reassuring. Exploitation and coercion occur even when people seem to enthusiastically say “yes,” but consent’s a good starting point. When you’re seeing people tied up and beaten, and feeling reluctant to intervene, that’s valuable.

As a group, we’ve generally agreed that consent is an ongoing action, and might cease at any time. This destroys the, “she was wearing a miniskirt,” defence, but raises some difficulties. You can’t withdraw your consent to be on an aeroplane mid-flight, but you can mid-kiss or mid-beating. In the fetish community practices like safewords are encouraged so that withdrawal can be communicated. I know a man who likes to gag people, but always gives them little cymbals to drop if they want the scene to end. Then, what if you enjoy being pushed beyond the point at which you seriously say, “no”?*

At this point you’re sure to encounter a self-appointed member of the consent police. He admonishes those who dare to play without safewords (I find them useless, because by the time I need to use them I’m too far gone to speak), and reprimands those who don’t hide their kink well enough, for involving unconsenting members of the public (he’d probably outlaw kissing on buses). I prefer him, though, to the hardened criminals: those who believe that explicit consent provides a license to do anything. Beaten to within an inch of your life? Well, you said it was ok beforehand! People don’t always act in their own self-interest, experience certainly shows that I don’t, although I intend to in future. All of this means that the precise boundaries of consent are constantly debated in fetish forums, usually by people who aren’t going to do anything more dangerous to life than tap each other with sticks while looking menacing. It’s an academic squabble after we’ve agreed the central points.

Sometimes, being mostly surrounded by people who have a nuanced view, I struggle with people who don’t. I forget that there was a time when I felt that if sex began, I had to see it through to the end, and that I had a tendency to swallow because I thought it would be rude not to. I begin to believe so thoroughly in my way of doing things that I can’t see it from another perspective.

I’ve had to confront that other perspective twice recently. The wanking man didn’t touch me, but he still left me feeling abused. Another man provoked a similar feeling, this time with lips. We’d kissed, and I’d told him I wasn’t going to screw him. I said I’d like to use the bathroom before I left his house. As I washed my hands, he lurked silently on the other side of the door. When I emerged he wrapped his arms around me and dragged me to the bedroom. I put up mild resistance, surprised and confused—until we reached the doorway—about what was going on. He toppled me down on the bed, lay heavily on top of me and kissed my neck. This time I resisted wholeheartedly, pushing as hard as I could against the weight of his body and repeating, at increasing volume, “Stop! I’m serious, stop,” but I couldn’t shift him. When he stopped of his own accord, I scrambled to the edge of the bed and berated him for his behaviour. “I wasn’t hurting you!” he objected.

“That’s not the point.” I told him.

Aside: If you’re thinking, “that bloke had a sexual abuse problem, not a differing understanding of consent,” stick with me, we’ll get to the point. If you’re thinking, “sheesh! Bloody women with her mixed signals, she deserves all she gets,” you’re in the wrong room, you want, Not Becoming a Rapist 101, down the hall.

A couple of days later the lover came to call. When he kissed my neck I felt I was back in that bedroom with peeling paper, under the weight of the man who wouldn’t stop. I told him I was going to ask him to do something, and I’d prefer he asked no questions. I said I didn’t want him to kiss my neck. “I’d already decided not to,” he replied, “I felt your reaction.” Before bed he gave me a hug and said, affectionately, “I’m going to rape you in the morning.”

The lover and I play with non-consent a lot, it’s a central kink for both of us. A recent highlight was the day I sent him a text message simply saying, “the door’s on latch.” The grazes have now healed and I’ve resolved to hoover the hallway before trying anything like that again. We both know it’s only a game, but it isn’t pretty. When it’s happening, my fear and pain are real.

Rape in the morning is a slightly different matter. I don’t say, “oh, yes please, I’m looking forward to it,” because I’m not, and because we both consider that I can’t give consent eight hours before, for an act to be performed on me while I’m unconscious.** My reaction varies, from sleepy acquiescence to squirming away in pain, but even at its worst, on the day I had a migraine, thrown down so that my head was split by a square of sunshine on the pillow and I could not imagine, on any level, deriving sexual satisfaction, it did not occur to me to reprimand him. This is who we are, this is what we do.

My question to myself is this: Why am I angry with the man who didn’t get my consent to kiss my neck, and not with the one who rapes me? Why do I think of that man’s lips on my neck with such disgust, but look back on many mornings of actual pain with, if anything, affection? The only answer I can think of is that the lover, unlike the other man, knows that consent is important. He never would (never could) justify doing something by saying it didn’t hurt me. And he knows that there’s something beyond explicit consent, where he has to be extra-specially careful, and read my expression, my eyes and my breathing, for all the things I can’t tell him. He knows the rules, so he’s allowed to break them. That is pretty close to an incoherent position.

I’m curious about how other people resolve the inconsistencies of desire and consent, because it seems like a tangle. And how, from the kinky perspective which so privileges consent, does one deal with the heavy-handed tactics of the vanilla world?

*There’s an interesting meditation on no limits play at SpankingCast.

**Yes, this means that many medical procedures are non-consensual. I don’t think we should give up surgery, and I do find the inconsistencies in my system mildly troubling.

Written by Not an Odalisque

April 18, 2011 at 12:01 am

43 Responses

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  1. I have to admit, I’m a safeword nut. I don’t like playing without them. It doesn’t mean I have to use them but I like them being available. The differences in how we play and how we process pain means I do understand why they don’t work for you but, for me, bad pain or feeling will snap me out of it so quickly I have the ability to talk again.

    One of my non-scene friends has been struggling to deal with hearing about what we do. She’s got her reasons. She believes her other friend was in an abusive relationship and the guy used BDSM as an excuse to abuse her. She took it because she was his sub and felt she had no other option. In short, he betrayed her trust and acted like a complete and utter tool. He wasn’t safe, he wasn’t nice and he didn’t have consent. Just because you say yes once, it doesn’t mean you mean it all the time. To play with no limits, to push those boundaries beyond the realm of obvious consent, you need two things in my opinion: to have a serious amount of trust in the other person and strength of character to deal with both the emotions that come with playing like this and to walk away as soon as it stops being “enjoyable”, whatever that means to you (lots of use of the Royal you here).

    I think you are strong enough. You know what you want and you know what you don’t. People who play without your trust in them are disrespecting you and really need to learn that they can’t treat people like that. Just because you like x, y and z doesn’t mean you like it with everyone or all the time and, without prior consent, no really does mean no.

    Alyss Abyss

    April 18, 2011 at 7:40 am

  2. This is a thoughtful and intelligent post.

    The nature and complexities of all relationships, vanilla or otherwise, make it hard not to personalise a response, or make a sweeping generalisation. I have raped my lover, but had her consent. I would not dream of such an act with another. My lover trusts me not to abuse what she has given me.

    There are those who will abuse their dominant position, vanilla or kink, and will justify their action on so many grounds.

    There is never a justification.

    As far as different degrees of reaction and consent are concerned then perhaps one can take the idea outside of a sexual context. Therefore if someone should take something from me, however small, without permission, it is theft and I would feel angry or betrayed. Yet if should give, then I am delighted that they have accepted that gift.

    But if they then take more than I have given, then the anger and sense of betrayal are even greater.

    Romantic Dominant

    April 18, 2011 at 2:07 pm

  3. Sorry I am too busy in the ‘how not to be a rapist 101’ room to read the rest of this post.

    Quiet Riot Girl

    April 18, 2011 at 2:44 pm

  4. -I don’t mean I was thinking ‘she deserves all she gets’ but that you have already from the outset decided which versions of ‘consent’ and what it means are acceptable and which belong in the minds of ‘rapists’. That is not a way of opening discussion but of making judgements on others.

    I am in the school of thought that ‘consent’ can be very confusing. Not just in BDSM but in sex in general. And that, as is the case with any anecdote, I have only heard your side of the story. The man who kissed your neck, and threw you on the bed, like ‘wanky man’ is stuck with a label, an identity. He is a cartoon cut out of a character. And he can’t answer back.

    See also Clarisse Thorn’s ‘Pool Hall Dude’ story.

    Quiet Riot Girl

    April 18, 2011 at 3:07 pm

    • Having seen you make the incorrect reference a number of times now, I feel the need to point out that the label “wanky man” is not being used on this blog. The name “wanking man” has, simply as a way of referring to a man who masturbated down the phone at Notanodalisque.

      Please get your references right before trying to shoehorn in an irrelevant point.

      Mr Wrath

      April 18, 2011 at 4:12 pm

      • Yes Sir.

        Sorry I amend that to ‘wanking man’. The point stands.

        Notanodalisque is labelling men eg ‘the wanking man’ and the man who kissed her neck, as ‘abusers’ and people who question her version of the story as needing to go to ‘how not to be a rapist’ room. This is relevant to how she constructs the discussion of ‘consent’. It’s not irrelevant at all.

        Quiet Riot Girl

        April 18, 2011 at 4:24 pm

  5. @alyss abyss I usually do play with safewords, because it does no harm to have one and they may one day be useful. I think you’re right about the things you need to get involved with boundary pushing without risking the sort of relationship your friend’s friend had (poor lass). I worry because, especially in romantic relationships, people have a tendency to trust a lot and stay around too long, and in this context, “I trusted him not to hurt me,” may reference something much worse than him having an affair. That said, I do think I’m able to pick myself up and dust myself off if it does go wrong.

    @Romantic Dominant. Interesting analogy. What about a friend who borrows something without asking? I think that’s the area we’re in here. And my reactions would vary to that from indifference to anger.

    @QRG I’m trying to open a discussion at a certain point, I don’t feel it necessary to put car designers on a footing with people inventing the wheel. Yes, I do judge others; surely it would be a greater cause for concern if I *didn’t* think abuse is wrong. That said, I agree that consent is complex, that’s what this post is about.

    It is in the nature of writing that you get a limited perspective. I could give you every piece of information I have about the man who kissed my neck—his name, his address, how he feels about his father, the story of the time he nearly got arrested, the oddities of his kitchen, the things he hasn’t felt able to tell his girlfriend—and you could still say you don’t have enough information to know him, because you wouldn’t. I wasn’t painting a portrait, though, I was exploring my reaction to his actions. His answering back with, “I thought it was consensual,” “bugger consent,” or anything else, would have no impact on that.

    As Mr. Wrath points out, precision about language is useful in addressing the issue of labelling. I use a verb, not an adjective, to designate the wanking man, because I am referring to an action he took, not a trait. Neither man is stuck with a label, because I haven’t mentioned one to anyone of our mutual acquaintance. I never used the word ‘abuser’, because a focus on identity, rather than behaviour, can be divisive. I have (in a small way) felt abused by their actions, and it may be worth noting that you are the only person I’ve mentioned them to (and I did tell an absurd number of people about the wanking man) who does not consider them to be reprehensible. Which is not to say you are wrong: consent is complex, like any ethical system, there are always grey areas. It just seems to me that this is not one of them.

    Not an Odalisque

    April 18, 2011 at 5:34 pm

  6. Well I refuse to judge people based on one account by one person of one single act they took once.

    That may make me the only person who has ever taken that approach with you, but I think it is an ‘ethical’ one.

    I remember when I was assaulted by an ex and his friends chose to listen to his ‘side of the story’- they were mutual friends of us both. I was really annoyed they didn’t wholeheartedly believe/support me at the time. But now I look back I am glad somebody listened to him, even if personally, I think my account was the ‘true’ one. Why should I have authority and not him? Because I am the ‘victim’?

    There is an amazing book by Janet Malcolm about the biographies of Sylvia Plath. Basically it says that the only really totally ‘true’ stories that we know for sure to be 100% trustworthy are fictional ones.
    Everything else is a ‘grey area’…

    And I say that not to undermine your account but to contribute to this discussion about consent that is fraught with difficulties.

    Quiet Riot Girl

    April 18, 2011 at 5:55 pm

  7. P.s. I love this line:

    ‘my head was split by a square of sunshine on the pillow’

    Quiet Riot Girl

    April 18, 2011 at 6:00 pm

  8. I think the core of our disagreement may be this: you think I’m asking you to judge an individual, I’m interested not in the person, but the action and its implications for consent. The need to hear different sides of the story is closely related to the issue of judgement, I feel. Everyone deserves to be listened to, and if he wants to talk about it I sincerely hope he has a friend who will listen. I don’t imagine he does want to.

    Not an Odalisque

    April 18, 2011 at 6:24 pm

    • yes but how you paint the picture affects the discussion.

      The actions you have described have already been interpreted by you as not constituting ‘grey areas’ in terms of consent. You have said that you ‘felt abused’ and really are asking the reader to agree that you were abused. I am saying that as a reader of a single account of an event I have to treat the incidents as being full of ‘grey areas’ because I wasn’t there.

      and when it comes to situations where one party says they did not consent, or withdrew their consent, the people who listen to their accounts will also have to use their own interpretation to make a call on it. The interpretations are really part of the process of ‘consent’ in a weird way.

      Quiet Riot Girl

      April 18, 2011 at 6:50 pm

  9. I started out in the scene believing that having a safeword was the best way to ensure that you’d have no problems in individual interactions. Then in one of my first scenes the top, using a very heavy hairbrush, managed to blister me so badly I couln’r actually sit for a week. At the time I safeworded at the point of unbearbale pain, but he didn’t hear me and I gave up saying it.

    Since that day I haven’t trusted safewords. When palying with someone new I give them very little surrender. I just go through the motions of submission, carefully contolling them. And when they do something I don’t like I just get up and end the scene.

    And when playing with regular, trusted players I’ve realised that safewords actually don’t work at all.I want to reach complete submission, be controlled. To get to this point they have to dominate my mind and once that’s gone there’s no way I can safeword. As you say yourself ‘you’re incapable of using one in a scene’. I’m the same.

    Even at my judicial punishments it would never occur to me to stop. And in those scenes, like the interrogation I gave my consent up front, blind consent, but consent based on trust.

    So when I play deeply, for example with HH, he can do whatever he likes with me. I will not question it. And it’s part of our play not to know what he will do. Because we play through implicit consent; based on him knowing me and having earned that trust. On a previous post of yours I commented about how important ‘limits lists’ are, for allowing a top to understand the boundaries you play in. That’s important, but more important is the Top being able to read you well. We’ve played scenes where HH has come out of role to ask was I OK, reading that the body signals were off. Just as the Lover in your case sensed the neck touch didn’t work for you.

    So in a very round about way I’m trying to say I agree with you on safewords!

    As for the two negative experiences you’ve had recently: there’s no comparison with what happened there and what you do with the Lover or other play partners. You didn’t consent to what they did, at the time or at some point im knowing them. Whereas with the Lover your consent has been given in inviting him in, in what you have together. It’s consenual non-consent.

    This is a great post, not sure the long rambling reply justifies!

    Emma Jane

    April 18, 2011 at 8:16 pm

    • interesting comments. I know what you mean about safewords not working. Especially with new people. I have found in some situations I dont even think to use one as I know the person won’t go beyond my limits. But sometimes as Notanodalisque has said we want to go beyond our limits and that is when the idea of ‘safety’ and even ‘consent’ can get a bit blurred. I don’t think I have trusted anyone to take me that far for a long time, due to previous bad experiences.

      Quiet Riot Girl

      April 19, 2011 at 11:46 am

    • Thank you for your lovely, not rambling, comment. I take a similar approach when playing with someone new (although my experience is more limited). It isn’t just about pain, but not trusting someone to be in charge of ‘technical top stuff’. It’s hard to surrender when you’re considering whether you’re adequately balanced in the pose you’re been put in, for example. I feel very lucky not to have had an experience like yours.

      I agree that playing with people who read me well is the best course, and happily I get to do that. HH has on occasion noticed my emotions in a scene before I have. Then, it seems unfair to shove all that responsibility onto a play partner. I’ll muddle along until I puzzle it out, I suppose.

      Not an Odalisque

      April 20, 2011 at 8:18 pm

  10. Huh. Am I the only one who thinks the point of this post was the strange, inexplicable, and wondrous thing that is sexual desire?

    This comment argument on identifying people as a “abusers” is a totally different thing. Notanodalisque felt abused when someone kissed her neck but not when she was “raped” and actually hurt. That’s pretty weird. Desire is pretty weird.

    How can someone feel violated by a kiss and affectionate about a painful sexual encounter? At first glance, that seems totally nuts, but that’s how she feels and we have to respect that.

    She’s not asking us to see people as “abusers” per se; she’s asking us to try to consider why her her feelings go against logic, why one thing feels okay but not another, and how we can manage our feelings in the context of making safewords to protect ourselves while still having kinky fun – this seems like an important and valid conversation to have.


    April 18, 2011 at 8:24 pm

    • of course it is Em. But she used words that suggest she wants us to be clear that two of the scenarios were definitely non-consensual and unpleasant, and left her feeling ‘abused’, and the other was consensual.

      If it is just a question of her desire being lacking in the first two cases, then is ‘consent’ the whole issue or is it more a lack of interest in those men, or what happened with them?

      I think consent is often affected by how we feel about an event after it has occurred. This view is part of that conversation about desire/consent/abuse.

      Quiet Riot Girl

      April 18, 2011 at 8:58 pm

    • Yes, yes! You’ve restored my faith in my communication skills, thank you!

      Not an Odalisque

      April 20, 2011 at 8:18 pm

  11. This is one of the best kink-related posts I’ve read in a long time. I’m so happy I’ve found this blog, and will follow it regularly from now on!

    I wish I has something intelligent to add, but I’m really in the same place as you. I have one person who can “rape” me, but the rest of the world could squick me so easily that it is hard for me to play with other people.

    Again, great post, and thank you for sharing your thoughts and emotions and internal conflict.

    Zille Defeu

    April 18, 2011 at 10:52 pm

    • Thank you! Compliments always make me glow, and it is nice to hear others are in similar places.

      Not an Odalisque

      April 20, 2011 at 8:19 pm

  12. Excellent post – such an articulate exploration of the consent / limits / safeword issue. Thanks for linking to my SpankingCast which, coincidentally, appeared at much the same time.

    I do see differences in your interaction with the men you describe – consensual non-consent is very different to non-consent!

    As for safewords – I *totally* get why people wouldn’t use them, or wouldn’t want them as part of their dynamic with a particular, trusted partner. The tough area for me is what happens if, in a ‘no safeword’ scene, someone does actually (out of instinct, reflex) use a recognised safeword. It’s a tough one: I’d stop and hope others would do the same, but I’m not sure that that’s what all players would want to happen.


    April 20, 2011 at 10:59 am

    • Thank you! The issue of consent has been running around in my mind a lot since reading about Emma Jane’s experiences, so I wonder how much our similar topics had similar origins? I like to think that playing it safe is the best option in scenarios like the one you describe, but then I don’t play on the hard edge, and so I have a limited right to comment. The danger, as you explored, is that one ends up with quite a long list of things one shouldn’t do in ‘no limits’ play, which must rather defeat the point. I think it comes back to EJ’s point about trust, and reading.

      Not an Odalisque

      April 20, 2011 at 8:20 pm

  13. Nobody has said *what* the difference is between ‘consensual non-consent’ and ‘non consent’ though. There have been vague references to desire, and ‘reading body language’ and ‘that’s just what we do’ and ‘feeling abused’ but it’s not clear.

    My opinion rests that this is a minefield and making out there is a clear cut line between needing to go in ‘how not to be a rapist 101’ and happy, consensual relationships is part of our problem.

    Quiet Riot Girl

    April 20, 2011 at 2:01 pm

    • Surely it’s fairly straightforward – if you’ve agreed with a partner that your relationship will feature ‘non-consensual’ play, then that’s consensual non-consent. Anything else is merely non-consent? Or am I over-simplifying?


      April 20, 2011 at 6:14 pm

      • I think that abel if it were straightforward, Notanodalisque would not have felt the need to write a post about ‘consent’. I think ‘consent’/sex/power is one of the least straightforward subjects in our lives!

        But nobody here seems to agree with me or want to actually discuss how this complexity pans out. So I am going to write my own post on it. At the moment it is starting with a reference to the ‘Marabar Caves’ incident in Forster’s Passage To India.

        I am a bit surprised that as a writer of fiction, Notanodalisque doesn’t see how any text, including blogposts, will be interpreted in different ways by different readers.

        Quiet Riot Girl

        April 20, 2011 at 6:22 pm

      • That’s the way I understand consensual, non-consent, in it’s basic form. If you have no prior agreement, no means no.

        Alyss Abyss

        April 20, 2011 at 7:35 pm

  14. I think that there are complexities and grey areas in consent. I worry that if we agree that I can consent to sex in the morning, the night before, where’s the line? Can I consent today to sex in ten years time? Twenty? Do we get to the point of saying you can’t rape your wife? Or pick an arbitrary time and say you can consent up to five days ahead?

    The fact that there are complexities doesn’t alter the basics, though. As Alyss Abyss points out, if you have no prior agreement, no means no. We could certainly challenge consent’s philosophical basis, its roots in a particular conception of the self as rational, self-interested, individualised, etc. It’s a post I’ve been meaning to write for a while, but it’s not this one. You’re all free, however, to interpret my words as you will!

    Not an Odalisque

    April 20, 2011 at 8:21 pm

    • It is a good post and was very well written, which is why it was worthwhile for me challenging some of the points as they made me think. I will try and write a response but I find it a hard subject too.

      I will say though, as someone who identifies as ‘queer’ it really really would be valuable if you brought in some ‘queer’ examples of consent. Even if they are not from your own experience.

      Because so far this reads as if it is always (submissive) women who consent to (dominant) men.
      e.g. ‘raping your wife’ etc. A wife could rape a husband too.

      Quiet Riot Girl

      April 20, 2011 at 8:37 pm

  15. A big problem with consent is that it is a static concept and humans are dynamic. Whether you feel like you gave consent depends on how you experience what happened, and that can change after the fact. So, “consent” is a problematic idea just to begin with.

    What may be more important over the long term is the relationship you have. Do you feel that the other person loves you? Do you interpret the things they do as loving? Do they consistently seem to intuit what you need even when you might not consciously want it at the time, so that later it seems like they gave you what you wanted even though at the time you wouldn’t have consented to it?

    The fact that you label one man “lover” says a great deal. Even if he’s “raping” you I think you both know that there is something in it that you interpret as caring about you. The experience doesn’t have to be pleasant or desirable at the time for it to carry that meaning.

    I might say to my girlfriend that “I’m going to use you.” This implies taking her like an object for my pleasure. What makes this okay? What makes it okay is that it has a context around it in which I know and she knows that it is giving her specific feelings and experiences that she values. In another context, in which there was no “BDSM” wrapped around it, it would be uncaring, unloving and abusive. But in the context of what it means to her it shows caring and love.

    We all give meaning to what happens to us, including what’s said. Meaning isn’t something that is inherent in the objects, actions or words. It is created by the mind. That’s why things that in the broader consensus universe would be interpreted as horrific can be given a special meaning in a private context that is the exact opposite.

    In a way, I think what’s important is to have the ability to sense how your partner experiences what you’re doing to them. This is a kind of empathy. When someone really can’t intuit what the other is experiencing and can’t be a part of it, then it all goes wrong. The context goes away.

    You can create a context in which someone is supposed to not care about you and just do things with you for their own pleasure. Within that context, as a bottom or submissive, you might feel that you are getting what you want. But if the context goes away then they are really doing what they want without caring about you. At that point, it is no longer okay. When it’s the theory that you are on your own and they don’t care, it’s fine. But when it’s no longer a theory but rather a reality, then the exact same actions become abusive.

    I think when someone cares about you it’s easier for them to do the right things with you. You tend to feel like you are getting what you want and need. There’s less tendency to re-evaluate after the fact and come up with reasons why it wasn’t what you wanted them to do, after all. Otherwise, it’s easy to re-evaluate afterward and put a negative spin on it. This is what I mean when I say humans are dynamic. The act can’t change, but our thoughts and feelings about it can change any time up until we die.

    And, that’s also why when we don’t know someone and don’t have any agreements with them, we find offensive any actions they take without explicit approval. You can’t just walk up to a stranger and kiss them. It wouldn’t be consensual. Whereas, if you have a long-term relationship with them you can kiss them even when they are trying to wave you away. Within the context of that relationship you may both find it consensual.


    April 22, 2011 at 7:27 am

  16. Rich- how does this leave people who have casual sex? I have had S and M sex with people on a casual basis that has been violent, etc. And I have dealt with the reality that their ‘sadism’ did not relate to ‘care’ or ‘love’ except on the basic principle that they wanted us both to feel pleasure. Men often like women to orgasm etc. But that was still consensual. Just maybe not in a way that I can give any status to or any deeper meaning or any title of ‘Lover’. It was just sex. And violence.

    Quiet Riot Girl

    April 22, 2011 at 1:56 pm

  17. I think for casual sex (where I guess that means people that don’t have an ongoing relationship) it means that there’s little context. In that case, I think people need to be especially careful to take into account the stated limits of their partners. So, for example, if you are at a club and you meet someone new and decide to play, then the sub should set clear guidelines for what they want and don’t want and the dom needs to carefully observe those limits.

    Within those guidelines, I don’t think the issue of how much they “love” you comes into play. But in a longer term relationship I think you have to take the relationship into account in evaluating what people mean by “consent”.

    Even so, if you have casual play and you both get pleasure from it, then that shows a certain amount of care on the part of the dom. It shows that the dom respects the sub as a human and that their actions are “caring”, even if they aren’t the same kind of caring that you’d have in a deeper relationship.

    I think that how deep the relationship is has an impact on how important explicit consent is and what it means. In the context of casual sex the explicit agreements are very important, but in a long-term and more intimate relationship there are many implicit agreements and assumptions that come into play and may ultimately supersede what we say we want. The trick is to understand what this means and stay out of trouble.


    April 23, 2011 at 8:22 am

    • But if one is a masochist, one gets ones pleasure from some potentially dodgy things.

      I can say I have had plenty of orgasms from a situation that also left me feeling confused and upset and ‘uncared for’. But I am a masochist maybe that is what I was seeking?

      Oh and I dont think people always know what their ‘limits’ are or what they don’t want until it happens.

      I think casual S and M sex is a minefield.

      Quiet Riot Girl

      April 23, 2011 at 12:56 pm

      • Yes, casual sex (of all kinds) is a minefield.

        And, many people find sexual stimulating things they don’t think are acceptable behavior. If you have one of those things happen to you, then you are bound to have conflicting emotions about it. That doesn’t make it a good thing to have this happen to you.

        I don’t think people know what their limits are with any reliability. That’s one reason why it makes sense to treat the stated limits with a great deal of respect in casual sex, and why it makes sense to push those boundaries more in a longer-term relationship. I think the part we agree on is that ‘consent’ can be very confusing. Or, at least, very complicated.

        What I found interesting about this discussion is that it picked up a few of those complications. Why did Notanodalique find one circumstance more offensive than the other? I think that the feeling of connection is an important element, and part of that is how she might interpret what’s going on in one man’s head vs. the other.


        April 25, 2011 at 8:42 am

  18. Thank you, QRG. I deliberately take most examples from my own experience, because I don’t want to assume knowledge of anyone else’s. Unfortunately, I don’t think I’ve ever raped a man, so it’s difficult to talk about it. I think it is clear from the anecdotal nature of the post that this isn’t a comprehensive picture. I chose the example of a husband raping a wife because it is well-known that for a long time the law didn’t recognise the possibility, and I wanted to draw attention to the institutionalised nature of implicit consent. Clearly, I did not deny the possibility of other forms of rape.

    Rich, you and I have very different understandings of consent. I don’t think it does change after the fact, no matter how much you liked or disliked what happened. I do think you’re right that a caring relationship and the ability to read a partner is important, though. I certainly wouldn’t say that a long-term relationship licenses kissing someone who is trying to wave you away. Fortunately when I mentioned that to the lover he said, “of course not!” so I’m safe for now. How one is meant to negotiate this minefield well enough to have more than one relationship I honestly don’t know.

    Not an Odalisque

    April 25, 2011 at 11:22 am

    • Let me clear that up, then. I don’t think that consent changes after the fact. I think that how people feel about it changes after the fact.


      April 27, 2011 at 6:58 am

  19. I have never raped a man, either Notanodalisque. But I thought you supported non-heteronormative models of relationships as I do. Hence when I write about rape I include the shocking fact that women do rape men and other women. Also, rape of any man, married or otherwise was not considered a crime in the UK till 1994.

    I think sometimes your writing is misandrist.

    Quiet Riot Girl

    April 26, 2011 at 1:30 pm

    • Notanodalisque, misandrist? You’re clearly reading entirely different blog entries and comments by her to the ones I’ve ever seen…


      April 26, 2011 at 1:57 pm

      • No Abel. I am reading the same words and interpreting them in a different way to you.

        Quiet Riot Girl

        April 26, 2011 at 2:30 pm

  20. Thanks Rich I think you are expressing some of the things I have been trying to!

    Quiet Riot Girl

    April 26, 2011 at 1:33 pm

    • >No Abel. I am reading the same words and interpreting them in a different way to you.

      OK, let’s be direct then – perhaps my slightly tongue-in-cheek response was too subtle… I don’t think your suggestion that Notanodalisque’s writing is misandrist was a terribly fair or appropriate allegation, and I don’t actually think it reflects her intent or views accurately.


      April 26, 2011 at 4:09 pm

      • Thanks Abel for your directness. I don’t know what her intent or views are except for what I have read, here and on twitter.

        My problem with all feminist writing (writing by feminists) on things like rape, S and M and consent is that it tends to make what I think are ‘unfair and inappropriate’ assumptions/suggestions about men. I have made it clear why I think this about this particular piece.

        We disagree. I think it’s ok to disagree about what a piece of writing is saying don’t you? Notanodalisque doesn’t like some of what my writing says about this subject either and she has told me so and that’s fine. It’s an area of debate and discussion.

        Quiet Riot Girl

        April 26, 2011 at 5:13 pm

  21. I don’t think it’s always appropriate to go to the nth degree and state common facts like “women can rape men,” “dv is often perpetrated by women,” etc. for the sake of painting a full picture. Because it’s still not a full picture is it? Having to discuss everything just because you want to discuss something would be daft. On a personal blog discussing personal responses to personal, anonymous anecdote, there its no real need for the “of course some people may have experienced similar from other people of different genders.” If this were a piece about dv statistics or crime rates, fine, some balance is required. But I don’t think it would have been appropriate here, and I think an accusation of misandry, here, beneath this post, is inappropriate too.


    April 26, 2011 at 6:54 pm

    • I know what you mean, impeus. But in terms of everything I have ever read by Notanodalisque, and this is in the context of that (I can’t take it out of context) I have only ever seen her portray men as ‘predators’ and women as potential victims.

      This is the para that made me the most uncomfortable:

      ‘Aside: If you’re thinking, “that bloke had a sexual abuse problem, not a differing understanding of consent,” stick with me, we’ll get to the point. If you’re thinking, “sheesh! Bloody women with her mixed signals, she deserves all she gets,” you’re in the wrong room, you want, Not Becoming a Rapist 101, down the hall.’

      This to me is saying, if you respond to this piece in a certain way, you are likely to be a rapist or to become one and you need to learn how not to. And, by the way she presents people (even the reader) in this piece, the ‘you’ is assumed to be man.

      That, to me, is misandry.

      Quiet Riot Girl

      April 26, 2011 at 8:23 pm

  22. Here is my post in a roundabout way in response to this one. Thanks for raising this complex issue, Notanodalisque. It will run and run and run…

    Quiet Riot Girl

    April 27, 2011 at 11:31 am

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