My recent conversation with Dr. Alenxadra Solomon offered much clarity and insight to the topics of consent, communication and how integrating them both can deepen our relationships and connections with others.
It was an explorative conversation around consent, clarity, and what we’ve been taught about heteronormative relationships. We discuss consensual sex, polyamory, BDSM, and being Queer, and I am very excited to share today’s conversation about what consent is at the very core. There are so many nuances around consent, and we dove deeper into them on MR Ep 80 Clarity is Not Cruelty (highly recommend tuning in and turning!)
But if you only have time for a quickie, here are some highlights I found worth mentioning.
Dr. Solomon: “I still get questions today about like, is it okay to have sex on the first date? Or is the third date really the sex date? Or when should I have sex?”
So if we start to reset the norm, rather than these things that are like- I still get questions today about like, is it okay to have sex on the first date? Or is the third date really the sex date? Or when should I have sex? These kinds of questions that reflect that we are not yet at the point where sex becomes an opportunity for layering in a new kind of connection versus a thing to check off along the way.
I think it oftentimes is like we just have to check off this box. And she worries about waiting too long. And he- It becomes a communication about the state of the relationship versus a thing to talk about. My favorite question is, what would each of us be thinking, and feeling, and doing when we knew it was time to start layering in sexual connection? That’s such a better question than when should we have sex? What am feeling with myself? What am I feeling with you that would tell us that this would be a really fun next step for us?
Ashley: Is it consensual sex if he’s been lying to you and manipulating you and telling you about one thing, and then you enter into an intimate romantic relationship and then soon all this other information is unveiled and she feels she’s experienced non-consensual in the form of rape, and then in this form of being lied to and manipulated. And she’s like, I really am having a hard time understanding the difference mentally and emotionally. Because two people took away my agency to make the decision. Is it the same violation?
Dr. Solomon: That’s right. So, yeah, so what she’s saying is there was information that was withheld from me that would have changed my willingness and my readiness to be sexual with this person.
Dr. Solomon: So yes, that’s right. What she thought she was consenting to, she wasn’t consenting to. The terms and agreements that she thought were on the table were not what was on the table. So it was not consensual.
I don’t know that rape is the right word for that situation. But certainly, what she’s doing is she’s saying, you know what? Consent has a number of dimensions to it. And certainly what she’s saying is, my experience as a survivor, especially, means that I want and need to feel like I’m in the driver’s seat of my sexuality. And I find out later that what they were telling me wasn’t true, I was not in the driver’s seat of that experience. And that is a violation and it hurts. And it hurts me in the same place, it hurts me in that same arena inside of me where I was hurt in my sexual assault experience.
It makes so much sense that that hurt lives in the same realm. Of course it does. Of course it does.
Question: I had a friend tell me the other day that she’d met a man and they were kissing, but it wasn’t really moving very quickly. She was like, “I’m so confused. Are you gay?”
And I was like, “Wait, what did you say? Tell me you did not say that.” And she was like, “I just don’t understand why he didn’t want to have sex.” And he said to her, he’s like, “You do realize there’s a me too movement and not all of us are going to do that right away.”
And it was that shift, because I don’t want it to seem like it’s always like, “Men don’t understand consent and women have it all figured out.” It’s putting all that pressure on men to be a certain way. But that comment also being very homophobic. And I don’t think people really grasp when you say that what you’re really saying. But also that pressure you’re putting on. Like you’re feeling that maybe he’s not into you because he doesn’t want to have sex and he’s not ready.
Dr. Solomon: That’s right. I often say that patriarchy hurts men as well as women. But I also often say that women reinforce patriarchy in a lot of ways just like men do. It’s not that women are sort of free of this stuff. I mean she was reinforcing patriarchy in that moment, right?
Her idea is, as a man you should be constantly looking for your leading edge of where this is going to go. And you are the only person who can accelerate the action in the scene. She’s reinforcing those highly gendered notions, and she’s giving away her power. And she’s punishing him for being “less of a man” because of his pacing.
And yeah, I feel sad for both of them. And there’s something very complicated for women that women also, I think, anchor sort of something about if he’s trying to figure out how far he can get with me, it’s because I’m so desirable, I’m so hot, I’m so irresistible. So there may have been that in his staying in that space of just kissing, she may have gone into like, “What’s wrong with me? Does he not think I’m hot? Does he not want?”
So it just becomes this complicated flip flop of kind of like blame and shame. So there’s maybe a part of her that starts to feel ashamed like, “Am I not desirable to him?” And shame is pretty intolerable so then she maybe flips it into blame like, “What’s wrong with him that he doesn’t want this?”
Rather than just asking like, “What are you feeling? I would be up for doing more if you were up for doing more. I would love to make love right now, would you be interested in that?” I’m not saying any of that is easy. But part of sexual healing is for her to be able to also feel empowered to ask for what she wants, rather than thinking all she can do is wait for him to move it along.
Question: And it kind of brings up another conversation that I hear a lot about, is this masculine feminine position. And I grasp the concept of polarity being like what you need in a romantic relationship. But what I’m not getting down with is this idea that the masculine just take her.
And it comes up as simple as like a first date. I’m like, “Do you ask it before you kiss?” And they’re like, “No, the feminine doesn’t want that. They just want you to take it.” And I’m like, “Oh, it’s really interesting that you’re saying that.” Because I’ve been in that situation and it’s not fun sometimes.
And if anything like we were talking about earlier, that trauma state. When someone grabs you and starts doing this, if you’re not ready for that, if you’re not on the same page you don’t know how she might be feeling and you’re just doing your thing.
And I think that that masculine feminine surrender take is- Once you trust somebody, and you’ve had these conversations, and you know they know your body, and you’ve opened that up, then you can fully surrender to that let them take your idea and concept.
But I feel like right now that’s another conversation that’s very trendy in the dating relationship world about masculine feminine. And I think that people are really misinformed because it seems to me it’s like a 1950s version of how men dated women in a heteronormative world versus the masculine feminine. No, it’s not about sex but you’re still relying on that. That take and that’s what she wants.
Dr. Solomon: I’m so glad you’re bringing it up because you’re right. I think it’s very, very, very problematic. And I think there’s a pretty easy fix for it. If she wants that idea then she can say, “At some point tonight, just so you know I am completely ready for you at some point tonight to grab me and kiss me. I would love that. I would love for you to just pick your moment. Know that I’m ready. Thumbs up. When you feel it I would love that.” Right?
Ashley: I love that.
Dr. Solomon: Now we still get to play in that space of taking and surrendering and surprise and whatever we want to have. But we just have established it.
Ashley: Right, because you’re also leaving the surprise there, which is so great. Because that’s the biggest push back. It’s like, “Well, there’s no spontaneity.” And I’m like, “Okay.”
Dr. Solomon: Maybe spontaneity is a bit overrated, especially early on.
Ashley: That’s really great. I love that. Yeah, like when you’re ready, I’m open to it. We can keep the surprise element there. That’s a wonderful way of putting it.
Dr. Solomon: Also, I think when we take down an old model there’s some grief. And so maybe, for women, there’s maybe grief around sexual maturity means that I have to actually own my wanting. I have to take responsibility. I have to articulate what I want and need. There’s maybe a grief in that, like that I have to kind of like grow up, grow into a sense of responsibility.
And maybe for men, there’s also a grief around I have to let go of the fantasy that I can just be a knight in shining armor. Maybe I think there are men who would love to never leave a woman wanting. Who would love to just be able to hold her through an experience wordlessly. So maybe there’s a grief in actually real life. You know, in real life you can’t really just be a knight in shining armor, you can’t. There has to be questions and there has to be clarity.
And with questions and clarity now we can be creative and expressive. But we have to move through the boundary setting in order to get there. And that’s maybe sad that we can’t live in this imagined fantasy world.