I write about sex, often with a female audience in mind. But from dating, I’ve learned I have a few male readers too. I like sex and I’ve written about threesomes, BDSM, period sex and anal sex, to name a few topics. These are blogs about my experiences, not an open sexual invitation. Unfortunately, my dates have sometimes struggled to understand consent when a prospective partner writes about sex. For some, there is a genuine belief that if I wrote about it, I must be “up for it”. But you wrote an article about it If I’m not being gifted an anal douche from a guy I had barely started dating, I’m having to explain during sex that they can’t do certain things without asking for my consent first. It’s a problem I have experienced far too often, and the usual response is: “I assumed it would be OK because you wrote an article about it.” From speaking with other writers, I’m not alone. Radhika Sanghani, a journalist and author, recalls men assuming she was down for sex simply because she’s written a book about the topic. “I hated how they were so presumptuous about it and judged me on what I’d written rather than taking me at face value,” she says. ‘People think you’re a “certain type” of woman when you write about sex’ – Rebecca Reid Felicity Morse, a sex and relationships writer and life coach, says she has had men turning her down before a date after Googling her and reading her articles. “I think men confuse being emotionally open with being sexually available.” Writer Rebecca Reid adds: “People think you’re a ‘certain type’ of woman when you write about sex. But in reality, we’re just normal women who happen to share certain aspects of our sex lives on page.”
The sexual health charity FPA recently carried out a survey of 2,003 people aged 14 to 55 about sexual consent. Their research found just 39 per cent of people aged 14 to 17 thought it was ok to withdraw consent while naked. Nine per cent of respondents believed consent could not be withdrawn if they had been bought dinner or drinks, if they were in a bedroom, if they were naked or if they had already kissed or had sex with that person before. What might sound inconceivable to many is something I recognise. ‘After 20 minutes of him persistently nudging his erection into my back, I had to firmly tell him to give up’ On one date, I missed my last train, which resulted in me staying at my date’s house. I told him I didn’t want to have sex and although at the time he nodded in agreement, when we were back at his he tried his luck repeatedly. After 20 minutes of him persistently nudging his erection into my back, I had to firmly tell him to give up. “You’re such a tease,” he whispered as we both lay side by side in his bed. I wasn’t teasing; I just didn’t want to have sex with him. I made excuses for his behaviour The next morning, I woke up with a hand inappropriately placed on my body. I told myself being in his bed wearing my underwear was misleading and unfair. I chose to stay at his so why would he not assume I was interested in having sex? I truly believed I was the one in the wrong, and I eventually gave in and slept with him. Today, I’m regretful for not realising I had every right to say no. ‘If you’re in a relationship you still need to check in with your partner, regardless of how comfortable you feel with each other’ Consent isn’t something you obtain once to last an entire relationship, either. I once found videos on a boyfriend’s phone of us having sex. Although I consented to having sex with him, I was unaware he had propped his camera on the bedside table to film us. I wasn’t hugely upset at finding his secret video, but I was angry that he felt he could film without asking for my permission. I told him how it made me feel, but he believed we were in a loving long-term relationship, so why would it matter? It does. Whether it’s a one time only occurrence, a casual fling or a relationship, you still need to check in with your partner throughout, regardless of how comfortable you feel with each other. Consent can never be assumed, and it expires.