Meaningful consent?

(87 Posts)
calmet Fri 30-May-14 22:26:39

Like many young women, when I started having boyfriends, I wanted to have sex. But like most in the UK, I was taught that sex= penis in vagina sex (PIV).

In reality, there are many ways of having sex. But if you are taught that having sex means having PIV, the you accept if you want sex, PIV is an automatic part of it.

So do women who think thsi meangfully consent to PIV? I don't think I did. To meaningfully consent I would have to know I had the choice of having sex with a man, and not having PIV. To meaningfully consent, I would have to be able to have a boyfriend who accepted it if I said I did not want to have PIV.

You can't meaningfully consent, if you don't know you have a choice, and if you can't say no.

CailinDana Fri 30-May-14 23:20:15

Many radical feminists would say all PIV sex is rape, not so much because of the lack of knowledge/choice, but because of the inherent dangers that PIV poses to women and the fact that a person can't meaningfully consent to be hurt, e.g you can't shoot a person and then say they wanted to be shot.

I struggle with this viewpoint although I can see its validity. The same goes for your viewpoint. I am curious to hear others' views on it.

BillnTedsMostFeministAdventure Fri 30-May-14 23:28:05

This is where I got narked on the casual sex/contraception failure thread. Lots of "well, it's not realistic to expect a full discussion of views on MAP etc before casual sex". No acknowledgement that there's a really fucking easy way for it not to be an issue and that's to reach orgasm, hopefully mutually, some other way.

BillnTedsMostFeministAdventure Fri 30-May-14 23:31:43

Sorry, slightly OT.

Did you feel you couldn't say no to PIV? I know it's the norm but, like Cailin, I don't see it as inherently harmful to me, though I understand the politics of that position.

calmet Fri 30-May-14 23:35:13

No, I wanted sex. But I was taught like most women that PIV=sex. So if you want sex, you have PIV. That is what sex education teaches teenagers.

And how many men would stay with women who refused to ever have PIV? A small number, but I doubt most would.

So if PIV is expected, do women really have the opportunity to say no to it in a relationship?

MaryShelley Fri 30-May-14 23:43:09

But it's not just about ,'being taught' though is it? Is there not a biological instinct stemming from the idea of sex for procreation that means PIV is the default norm?

I am not sure that I fully agree with you.

Many first sexual experiences do not include PIV and are surely sexual.

IMO giving full consent to PIV involves self-esteem rather than facts/information.

I understand and can follow the RadFem argument that all PIV sex = rape but I don't agree with it.

MatildaWhispers Sat 31-May-14 00:07:10

I don't agree. I have had sex that I did not want, that I said no to, but it happened anyway. This was in a relationship, other times I said yes because I knew if I said no it would happen anyway. To me, that constituted meaningless consent.

I don't get how the lack of choice means all PIV sex is rape. Surely that introduces a sense that there must be different 'levels' of rape, which we know there should not be?

calmet Sat 31-May-14 00:45:15

That is why I talked about meaningful consent, rather than rape.

Yes most first sexual experiences don't include PIV, but they are not seen by most as having full sex. Full sex is usually in the UK, seen to mean PIV. So consumation of a relationship is only possible with PIV.

AskBasil Sat 31-May-14 07:25:03

Most of my sexual experiences when I first started having sex, were not meaningfully consensual.

Most of the time, once I'd started kissing, touching and caressing a man, although I didn't want it to go any further than that, I resigned myself to the fact that that's how it was going to go and I didn't feel I had that much choice in the matter.

I also felt that I didn't have the right to have a choice in the matter - that if I didn't want this man to penetrate me, then I shouldn't have kissed, caressed him etc.

We are very much given the message that penetration is part of the deal. Any other sexual activity comes with PIV attached so if you don't want the PIV, don't do the rest.

When for many women, it's the rest that is the main pleasure. The clitoris isn't inside the vagina.

ReallyFuckingFedUp Sat 31-May-14 09:01:15

I long for the days when PIV sex was considered the be all and end all.

Most teen girls are being expected to submit to anal sex now, aren't they. I think the more "options" for sex that girls have the more ways they will be violated. Sorry. Bit miserable, but that is really how I feel. In school, I remember the constant talks of blow jobs, I don't think I can think of one even discussing oral sex on females.

I also think many bloke will prefer to receive oral sex without a condom, which girls will be pressured in to

scallopsrgreat Sat 31-May-14 09:13:58

Your post resonates with me too Basil. It's really quite shit when you think about it.

And YY to expectations nowadays Really. And to discussions of oral sex being all about blow jobs. In fact a blow job was considered a way of not having to have PIV sex. All about the male orgasm isn't it.

Chunderella Sat 31-May-14 09:22:13

As a teenager having my first sexual experiences, I was keenly conscious that one could have physical relations without PIV, and often did this- although I probably wouldn't have considered it 'sex' at the time. I was fortunate in that my boundaries were respected, and although some of the men I was with were obviously disappointed when PIV wasn't on offer, they were usually glad enough to engage in whatever else I suggested as an alternative. Obviously not all women are this lucky.

Actually I suspect the mindset OP mentions might be more prevalent when people are a bit older and PIV sex becomes something that's expected and normal in relationships. What I mean is, when you're 14, a substantial percentage of the peer group will be consciously refraining from PIV, in a way that's probably not true for 24 year olds. It's probably seen as odder to not feel ready for PIV with a partner when you're 30 than it is when you're 16, iyswim. Although I met my DH at 21 and have had no other partners since, so this is just guesswork.

Casmama Sat 31-May-14 09:38:43

I'm inclined to agree with chunderella, although have been with dh for a long time too. I think as a teenager it is not unexpected that you might not be willing to have piv, as an adult going into a new relationship or in an existing relationship I suspect it would be seen as rather odd.

calmet Sat 31-May-14 09:42:15

Yes things are worse for young woman now with anal sex and blow jobs often expected. You are right, the focus is on the man's pleasure, even in these supposedly sexually liberated times. I raed that biologically, because of the prostrate, men being penetrated with anal sex are actually designed to enjoy it far more than women being penetrated. A bit ironic when it is usually men penetrating women anally.

I felt perfectly able to say no to PIV until I was "ready". But teh point is that I accepted that if I was going to be a sexually active woman, I was going to have PIV.

And I agree chundrella that women as they get older are expected to have PIV in relationships. Can you imagine if one of us posted in relationships saying that we were no longer going to have PIV and how should we tell our DP this? We would be left in no doubt that we were being very unfair on him.

calmet Sat 31-May-14 09:43:52

Indeed, one of the things I find distressing is when women post saying they are finding PIV painful after having a child, and they are given advice on how to make it less painful. Normally it is only a few of the feminists here, who ever suggests she doesn't have to have PIV at all.

I think the more "options" for sex that girls have the more ways they will be violated.

I think, sadly, this is true. Which is why I think meaningful consent is all about self-esteem and firm boundaries and having the 'permission' to say no and have this respected wrt whatever form of sexual contact.

x-post with you, calmet

meditrina Sat 31-May-14 09:51:25

I would answer the 'no more PIV in this marriage'in exactly the same way here as I would in Relationships.

Yes, it is unfair because it is a major and unilateral change in the established attempt of the marriage. If you read the Relationships board, you will see that non-PIV sex is discussed, suggested even promoted. But major unilateral changes in relationships aren't.

And being unaware of non-PIV sexually stimulating activities does not mean that consent for PIV is in any way lacking. It might be an argument for better sex education, and more open discussion of sexual activity and all it's possibilities. But is does not render consent to the known activity any less valid.

calmet Sat 31-May-14 09:57:19

A major and unilateral change in the relationship? So if we have consented to PIV in the past, we have to have it in the future?

Chunderella Sat 31-May-14 09:58:08

I have heard about blow jobs being expected and this is quite worrying. Nothing wrong with oral sex being promoted as an enjoyable and safer option than PIV, especially to teenagers, but from what some people are saying the focus has moved away from mutual pleasure. As a teenager, I remember most of the boys I knew being quite willing to perform cunnilingus, sometimes even showing off about it, and I certainly was never refused it by a partner. But I was born in 1984, so I had my early sexual experiences just before pornification really kicked in. That may have changed people's attitudes a lot. I haven't seen much porn, but there's not a big market for watching men go down on women, is there?

ReallyFuckingFedUp Sat 31-May-14 10:00:39

We are about the same age Chunder but I grew up in the states, where porn was already easy to obtain. Am I right in thinking that except for the odd magazine it was illegal in the UK?

calmet Sat 31-May-14 10:04:01

There is porn that focusses on that, but it seems to be focussed more on watching women ejaculate.

I think what Basil describes, that if you start sexual activity. you have to "follow through", is a very common feeling amongst young women. Yes it is shit. And I doubt it has changed, just that what counts as follow through, has expanded.

And yes porn seems to have had a massive impact on young people's sex lives.

Well, there is one compelling biological reason for PIV - it is still the main low-tech way of achieving pregnancy.

I accepted that if I was going to be a sexually active woman, I was going to have PIV.
Yes, I did too. And I am old grin and am very worried about the pornification of young people's sexual 'education' and thus expectations.
The older the get the more I realise how lucky I was to grow up when I did and that my choices were respected at all times.
Socialising is all-powerful and I agree that there are far more pressing relationship problems that need solving before PIV is suggested and it's certainly NOT a solution to any relationship problem.

meditrina Sat 31-May-14 10:05:45

Oh yes. If your relationship includes PIV on a frequent basis, then removing it altogether is a major change. It's a straw man argument to confuse the big features of the nature of a relationship, with consent for each act every time.

The threads I remember seeing in Relationships (and Health, and Family Planning) about resuming PIV after childbirth have all been from the perspective of a woman who wants her sex life to include it once again. I think I remember threads reminding people of non-PIV options in different circumstances.

If there are threads where a woman is being coerced, then perhaps posters from here need to join them and put other courses of action into the mix?

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