There was this whole campaign a while ago about how sexy consent is - and mostly my feelings on this are overwhelmingly those of sadness that we actually need to point out the need for consent. However though, more importantly, I feel as though it's misleading - consent isn't sexy; PVC is sexy, licking chocolate spread off eachother's bodies is sexy, Marks and Spencer profiteroles are sexy. You know why consent isn't sexy? Because it's critical, it isn't an added bonus that will make you go that bit wilder in the bedroom - it's something that you actually need in order to have sex.
Consent is a big deal to me. I struggle to say no and yet sex is the one place I've always felt comfortable saying no. No I don't like that, no I don't want to do that, no I've never done this before; whatever the occasion - it's the one time that I've always been able to say no. Yet, that doesn't mean that people have always listened - it doesn't mean that I've never had to do something that I didn't want to do. The fact of consent is that it doesn't come from the ability, or comfort, of being able to say no - it has to rely on another person too; a person who might not be willing to hear the world no.
The fact is - I know that I'm not the only person who has come up against someone who doesn't want to hear the word no; someone who hears it as "convince me" or foreplay. I know I'm not the only person who has said "yes" because constantly using the word "no" has been fruitless. I know I'm not the only one who has been able to convince themselves that maybe I did consent, maybe I did want this - when I know in my heart that I didn't in the slightest. I'm not the only person who has the guts to say no, but it's made irrelevant by the fact that the person on the other side of the act isn't willing to listen.
This isn't okay. Consent isn't sexy - sex isn't fine without it but becomes a bonus with it like lingerie, or the lights on, or the promise of pizza afterwards; consent is the decider as to whether you'll have sex at all because No should mean the end to sexual advances, the end to persuading and backing people into a corner. No should mean no. The end. All finished. No should not mean yes but this could have been sexier.
So truthfully, this is an open letter to the boy who didn't hear my word no, multiple times; but this is also a letter to everyone saying that anybody who doesn't hear your word no isn't worth your time, it's sexual assault at best, rape at worst. Don't be afraid to tell them you didn't want it, don't be afraid to keep saying no, don't be afraid to report things, to use the words, to keep talking about the lack of consent. Consent isn't sexy, consent is everything when it comes to sex. No consent? No sex.