GET FUCKING CONSENT: WHISKEY TANGO FOXTROT?

The first time I was sexually assaulted was the night my ‘cherry’ was ‘popped’ at the ripe and (by today’s standard) seemingly late age of nineteen. I had moved out of home and left rural New Zealand for the bright lights of Sydney only six weeks prior. I wasn’t to become aware that my virginity hadn’t so much been lost but stolen until a few years later. The most terrifying thing about learning through a friend that I had in fact been drugged and date raped was knowing that I had gone into the situation totally willing – there had been no reason to slip me anything. I had been well up for it.

As it was, I passed out during the foreplay. When I woke up, I was not in his apartment. In fact, I wasn’t even in my own bed. I was curled up under a tree in Hyde Park, with no clear memory of what had happened after leaving the pub but a definite physical understanding that sex had happened. We’d exchanged numbers and I called him to ask about it. He said that I’d had way too much to drink, we’d had sex and to have a great day. I saw him a fair amount on the scene in the following years, but he never spoke to me again.

As far as first times go, it was probably just as well it was less than memorable.

The first time I was violently raped, I was twenty one and had just moved into an apartment on my own. When I met ‘David’, I thought I’d died and gone to heaven. He was stunning, charming, covered in beautiful hair, a dazzling behemoth twice my size and apparently only recently blown in from interstate. We met early in the evening at a bar. I was there for a quick drink on my way home, he told me he’d been stood up by a date. We got chatting and ended up having dinner, drinks, and went dancing. We had been making out for much of the night, and I decided to take him home. At the beginning of the night, I thought I’d died and gone to heaven. When he finally left, I had been taken on a road trip through Hell and simply wished I was dead.

I fronted the police station covered in bruises, scratches and clear strangle marks. My mind was reeling from the horrifying threats he had growled in my ear as he took me, I had a twisted feeling in my gut like my kidneys had swapped sides and my Netherlands were in such searing agony I could barely sit. I was gray, shaking and most likely on the cusp of total shock. Incoherent and practically catatonic, I mumblingly tried to explain what had happened to me.

I was told that there was nothing I or they could really do. Oh, they could take a statement if I really wanted to make one, but the likelihood of it going anywhere was minimal, and even if something came of it the chances of it sticking were slim. The reasons for this came thick and fast – I could not be sure the name he had given me was real, he might not be in town any more, perhaps the sex we’d had was just a little rougher than I expected (ya fucking think!?), maybe it was buyer’s remorse, and my personal favourite – you potentially brought this on yourself for taking a stranger home.

By virtue of my own sexual autonomy, I was immediately deemed unworthy of being heard or seeking justice. The system had calculated that the effort they’d be required to expend would be greater than the result, so for them it was a non starter.

It was made clear that, to them, I was nothing more than a young faggot slut. Worse, I was coerced into not officially reporting it by those whose very duty it was to protect us. Their suggestion was to go home, have a strong drink and try and move on with my life – or see a shrink if I felt that strongly about it. The shame of what had happened, coupled with the shame of having my experience so cavalierly disregarded and implied that it may have in fact been deserved, was more than I could bear. Not knowing who to talk to and out of fear of not being believed, I stayed silent.

Fast forward a couple of years and we reach the second time I was raped, this time during a session with someone I had seen a few times and felt pretty comfortable with. When he suggested some light bondage play, I was quite turned on by the prospect. I had more experience under my belt by this stage and was a fair bit more street savvy – or so I thought. He tied me, face down, to the bed and the moment the restraints were in place and I was immobile, his entire persona changed. Gone was the tender man who had been so passionate on previous occasions, replaced by a monster who ignored my pleas to stop and who threatened to do further violence if I didn’t quit making noise. The long, glinting serrated blade he so casually waved in my face and laid where I could see it added another level credence to his threats. I was petrified, and I honestly thought this was to be my last day.

He entered me more roughly than I had ever been entered before. I wanted to scream but could only manage a strangled whimper and following that I had no other choice but to bite the pillow and sob. At this point my evolving psychological survival instincts kicked in and my mind tied to shut down. Tied up and totally at his mercy, I knew the only way I could make it stop was to acquiesce and get it over with as quickly as possible.

I was aware of everything happening to my body, but I forced myself to push through it. I even found myself reciprocating his thrusts, more in a seemingly futile attempt to make it slightly more comfortable than out of any sense of enjoyment. My disembodied consciousness watched in horror as I not only had my body violated, but was forced into not simply permitting the violence, but becoming actively involved in the process of my own violation.

When he was through, he left me tied up on the bed while he showered. He then half untied me, retied my hands and forced me to shower. On his exit from my apartment some twelve hours later, he waved the knife in my face again as a final reminder of what would happen to me if I spoke, and he waltzed out of my building as if nothing had happened.

Given my previous experience, and the knowledge that given that I had actively participated in the act the lines in this case were even more blurry than the first, I didn’t go to the police – or anyone else for that matter. My shame was greater than my anger, and so – again – I buried it.

Truth is, by this stage a part of me had started to get used to the idea that men were simply going to take what they wanted from me regardless of whether I wanted to give it to them or not. I found myself falling into a mindset that told me I was worthless as a person and merely existed at the pleasure of those whose power was greater than my own.

There was one more time about six months later, and it was a betrayal of epic proportions. However, given the circumstances and the parties involve, I will not go into too much detail. Suffice to say it happened in a place of employment and both my body and any remaining trust in others were taken in the space of an hour and it was that rock bottom moment that would forever change me.

I realised how weak I had been, and how the men who had disrespected my person were perhaps a reflection of the disrespect I had shown myself. If I was that easy to take advantage of, what did that say about me? What signals were I subconsciously giving to predators that I was fair game easily separated from the herd. Once I can understand, but there was a recurring pattern here that I could no longer ignore – there was a fundamental problem with my approach.

Still shamefully silent, I nevertheless vowed that no one would ever violate me again. I started implementing safety protocols. To the outside world the changes would be subtle, but they were drastic to me. I swore I would remain the bubbly, outrageous and flirty person I had always been, but something had to give. So, I gathered the shredded remnants of my strength, stitched myself together and channeled all the rage I was feeling into becoming more of an alpha. It was the awakening I needed.

The first thing I did publicly was stop flagging submissive when at leather bars and in kink scenarios, a habit which still continues today and I’ve only recently started to change as I find myself becoming more involved in a kink dynamic with my new boyfriend, and another man who I now call Sir (a story for another post). Since I was versatile anyway, by flagging top it meant that I could more confidently decline the approaches I didn’t want, and send subtle alternative signals to those who I did.

I did everything possible to give off different signals in the hope of throwing the scent, including dressing more masculine and being more dominant in my approach to potential partners. While I’ve always appeared sexually confident, I’ve come to discover this was borne out of an almost desperate craving for acceptance and intimacy. I started working on my actual confidence so that it was no longer merely a surface trait and while for the most part it has work, I still have my off days. I had been involved in the kink scene peripherally for years, so I drew on that experience to start rebuilding myself.

I’ve always been a sexual being, but instead of allowing myself to follow and acquiesce to the sexual terms of others, I made sure that I would only ever again be a slut on my own terms. As a sub, I know a good dominant will always check in to make sure I can be pushed further, not take me beyond my limit and then have to pull back. Having your limits expanded doesn’t involve being forcefully flung passed them, it involves treading the line and making the CHOICE to go beyond. There is a massive difference.

There is a huge amount of pressure in the gay party scene to be hot, kinky and promiscuous. With words like ‘breeding’ and ‘cumdump’ becoming a part of mainstream gay culture thanks to porn, we are culturally teaching younger gay men that being a slut is cool (which is fine), but we are failing to provide them with adequate tools and support to navigate the scene in a way that mitigates and minimises the risks.

I had an incident at a recent nude event where I had to tell someone not to touch me. After saying no, they did it again and I, quite rightly I thought, got upset. I felt particularly justified given the invasive nature of the man’s actions.

If that weren’t bad enough, I then had someone tell that if I was discomforted by someone’s actions, I should leave the space. What this told me is that there are people in our community who would prefer to have someone in their midst happily willing to violate basic consent etiquette and sexually assault people, than have someone in their midst who was willing to speak out when consent was explicitly denied and then violated.

When I approached the event organisers about what had happened, they stated they ‘promoted a clear message regarding consent and respect’. A quick search of their marketing, website and Facebook quickly proved that there was strangely zero information about negotiating consent in a naked space, a point I quickly made. I understand some changes have since been made, but they pay lip service more than do anything to actually address the very real concerns surrounding sex in public spaces.

But consent doesn’t just pertain to invasive acts, nor merely between sexual partners. For example, the first words I ever spoke to a man who I now consider one of my nearest and dearest were ‘consent is everything’. It was a particularly cool day and my nipples may have been a little perkier than usual. This man took advantage by giving them a tweak, earning himself a swift rebuttal. It was this initial exchange that launched the wonderful relationship we now share.

Check in before you proceed. Simple as that. There are no grey areas with consent. If you are unsure, open your mouth to speak. And that works both ways. If you are the recipient and are unsure, never be afraid to voice your concern. Negotiation and communication will always be a fundamental part of any encounter, be it through verbal communication or body language. Those who fear or are unwilling to discuss the issues are not people you want to engage with anyway.

For those who think that asking for consent is not hot are full of shit. Nothing is guaranteed to get me harder than a guy whispering the things he wants to do to me in my ear, allowing me to anticipate the sensation and react accordingly. Seeking consent can tantalise, it furthers sexual discovery and creates trust, rapport and a much better sexual experience for all.

Oh, and coercion is not negotiation. Pushing someone into doing something that are not comfortable with is a much more complicated assault, but it’s an assault nonetheless.

A person’s limits and boundaries can best be placed into two categories, hard limits and soft limits. A hard limit is one that should never be pushed or brought up again. It is a limit that is totally off the table. A soft limit on the other hand is one that can be negotiated down the track – parked in the maybe pile, in a sense. It might require more trust, there maybe things that can be done to lead up to it, or maybe it’s something someone is curious about but is not ready to act on. This is why talking about things is so fucking important.

The public face of our community needs to take a much more proactive approach to our duty of care to its members, and while encouraging our community to enjoy their sexuality, we must also give them the goddamn tools and confidence to do it safely and on their own terms.

Get fucking consent. It’s not hard.

 

 

 

 

 

 

One thought on “GET FUCKING CONSENT: WHISKEY TANGO FOXTROT?

  1. Your writings bought back memories of my own rape after being befriended and drugged by an online group.
    Sadly, I know who they are because of their profile pics. Sadly they struck again in another state and repeated their actions in an almost identical manner on a friend of mine. I am healing as is my friend. Time hasn’t made it any easier. Sex is never ok without consent.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s