I have always been a reserved person, a person who has always had a hard time saying no.
Growing up, I was never taught I could say no. Growing up I was never told that my consent mattered.
At 6 I was sexually abused by a family member, at 11 by a stranger. I was never told it wasn't my fault. Getting over the trauma and to be able to trust men was extremely hard, it has always been hard.
People often say not all men are the same but the very first excuse they make while sympathizing with abusers is the very sentence, “Men will be men.”
Men have no accountability. They can get away with everything in this patriarchal society that every single man benefits from as a birthright.
The sexuality of a woman is seen as a curse, something to be ashamed of, yet men always feel entitled to the bodies of women.
Belonging to a desi conservative household and hooking up with men without getting caught is a huge task, but getting caught can be a death sentence.
Embracing my sexuality was extremely hard for me, and it was not because of my family, it was mostly because of the traumas caused by the sexual abuse at age 11. I was so done with holding myself back, so done with being afraid that I just went on a hookup spree.
Sleeping with random guys I met on dating websites and sexting with a lot of random dudes made me realize a lot of stuff. One of the things were practicing consent and realizing that my consent matters too. It was after hookup number 3 when I realized I can say no.
I knew a lot about consent and how it worked but deep down a part of me thought that if I refused something in bed, my partner would get angry. It was a huge realization.
Source: Women’s Web
While in the middle of it; in the very middle of having sex, I panicked. I had a flashback and it triggered a panic attack. I couldn't stop shaking and I couldn't breathe. I was afraid; I didn't want to be touched. “Please don't touch me sexually right now,” I said and he stopped. He didn't try to talk me into it. I was rather surprised.
“It’s okay. Just let me hold you,” and he did just that. He held me and he comforted me. He stopped when I said no. I was surprised at the fact that I was even surprised because that’s just the basic human decency?
Do we really make men our heroes for showing the basic human decency? Do we expect so less from men that we have actually lowered our standards?
On another occasion, my then partner and I wanted to try drunk-sex. We talked about it and we were both okay with it. We got drunk, we started making out, but everything was kinda spinning. I felt sick and wanted to stop but the words wouldn't come out.
‘’Are you okay?’’ he asked, pulling his head back. I felt myself shake my head in a no. “Do you wanna stop?” he asked and yes I wanted to so I said it and he stopped. No questions asked.
That was when I realized that the men who understand consent will never forget it; not when they are high, not when they are drunk, not when they are in a relationship. They never forget it.
Understanding consent is super important for both men and women. If your partner says stop, you stop. If your partner looks visibly uncomfortable, you stop. If you are not sure what they want, you ask.
If they don't answer, you stop. No answer is not a free pass. Forced consent and trying to talk people into it not consent. You have every right to change your mind at any given time even when you have previously said yes. Know your rights.
Consent is not that hard to understand. People also need to understand that just because your partner is a guy, doesn't mean he cannot say no or that he always “wants it.’’ It goes both ways.
Consent is also so much more than just in bed. Practice consent in everyday life; you want to hug somebody? Ask. Do you want to upload a picture with somebody on social media? Ask. Do you want to kiss somebody? Ask. Learn to read nonverbal cues and you'll know what makes somebody uncomfortable.
Be vigilant. If somebody tells you something that makes them feel uncomfortable, do NOT do it unless they explicitly ask you to.
Consent is everything and by understanding it and by practicing it not only are you being a decent human being but also making this world a better place to live. You do not anybody. You are not entitled to anybody's body. You are only supposed to take what they explicitly offer. If you want more, ask.
Hooking up with a lot of men helped me understand how important consent is on both ends. Even if you are in a relationship, your partner’s consent is valid and an extremely important part of every single relationship.
Taking care of each other’s need is important. Making sure your partner is comfortable around you is your responsibility. I have been with people who didn't give a heck about my no and I have been with people who stopped in the middle of everything just because I looked uncomfortable.
It has nothing to do with being drunk or being high or short clothes and everything to do with you being a decent human and respecting others.
Take into account people’s consent, even people who aren't your romantic partners.
Stand for what’s right. Teach other people. Educate them about consent for there might still be people like me who are oppressed and crushed under the weight of uttering a yes when they want to say no. Dump people who have a hard time understanding and being a decent human being.