Should I kiss him? Is it the right time to hold her hand? Does he want me to put my hand there? Does she think tonight is the night?
Many people have wondered these very questions when alone with someone in an intimate moment. There can be so much uncertainty. Unfortunately, the traditional approach of “going for it” in moments of sexual intimacy leads to more confusion and incidents of unwanted sexual activity.
“Going for it” fails to take your partner’s wants and boundaries into consideration. What if one’s partner doesn’t want to be kissed? What if the person doesn’t want to be touched by you yet or ever? By “going for it,” you’ve unfairly put the responsibility for stopping the sexual contact on your partner – even though it was YOU who started the touching in the first place.
Typically in life if I need your agreement before doing something, that means I need to Ask First. We are taught this important lesson early in life. You don’t take your friend Taylor’s toy without asking first. In those moments as young children, our parents also taught us to be considerate when asking – such as saying, “May I please . . .?”
As we get older, we continue to learn to ask for what we want. We ask if we can have an extra helping of dinner. We ask if we can borrow the car. We ask our boss for a raise. We ask someone out… And yet, when it comes to sexual intimacy, sadly many people do not ask. Think about how strange it is that a person will ask someone out on a date and NOT ask that same person before trying to be sexually intimate.
Instead of asking, the one partner often assumes what the other person wants and tries it – which is an act of arrogance, an abuse of power, and what leads to sexual assault. Why arrogance? Because you are taking actions on the basis that you “think you know” exactly what someone else wants – without giving the person any choice BEFORE the action takes place. Why an abuse of power? Because you are not giving the person a choice. Why sexual assault? This might sound redundant, but here goes: Because you are not giving the person a choice.
To help build more mutually amazing consensual relationships and to help reduce sexual assault from occurring, we need to transform the culture – to create a culture where people ask their partners first and honor a partner’s choice throughout all sexual activity.
Consent should be requested and given freely and enthusiastically between partners who are of sound mind and legal age.
How can YOU help more people ask first?
Use the hashtag “#DoYouAsk” for promoting mutually amazing consensual relationships by practicing consent and respect with one’s partner. Asking is relevant in every relationship; from two teens going on their first date to a couple that has been married for 60 years. Even though we may know our partner, we can’t read their minds. Asking is the ultimate sign of respect, love, and caring emotion.
Share the #DoYouAsk movement with family, friends, peers, and with your colleagues. To help build the momentum with #DoYouAsk, we will be posting #DoYouAsk contests with great prizes. Keep an eye on this blog every week to see what contests are being held. We’ll be watching for your use of #DoYouAsk and sharing your examples of those individuals spreading the hashtag with the world.
Get started right now! Create your own#DoYouAsk Movement sign (see below example except replace #30DaysOfConsent with#DoYouAsk); take a picture of yourself holding the sign; and share the image via social media using the hashtag#DoYouAsk. We’ll be tracking the #DoYouAsk hashtag daily!!