Guest Blog: Ask Before You Touch
I want you to join me on an adventure in your imagination throughout the duration of this article. You and your partner have decided to go a lifestyle party, you have paid your entry fee, bought the perfect outfit and arranged for the babysitter for the evening. Financially this party will cost you around $300-$500 after hotel, travel, entry, membership, alcohol etc; all for the evening out with sexy like-minded individuals. For many that is an investment that took months to save and that investment comes with unspoken expectations. These expectations often accompany the thought pattern of if I am going to invest this amount of money into a fun and exciting evening then I feel that I am entitled to play while at the party. I know that you read that word ‘entitled’ and immediately thought, I would never feel entitled to play regardless the amount I have invested in the event; however, I want to challenge your thoughts on that. We are humans, we have expectations for things and if money is involved, our expectations can be heightened to the point of being unrealistic.
The night of the event arrives, you are feeling sexy, looking amazing and having a great time at the party. Drinks are flowing and you’re attracted to many attendees. Here is where consent comes into play. Many feel that everyone in attendance is there to play and consent is not needed. But this cannot be further from the truth. Just because an individual is at the event and paid all the money to be there doesn’t mean they will automatically give you consent to touch them. It is unrealistic to believe that everyone at the event is available to be touched, kissed, or fondled without permission.
As an attendee at events and as a counselor working with couples who frequently attend events, there is many times that consent has been violated in some way or another. It only takes a few seconds to ask if you can touch another individual and it doesn’t kill the mood or ruin the event if you ask permission. Asking permission can be sexy; “you are so yummy, may I touch that beautiful rear?” Automatically assuming that you are allowed to touch someone’s rear because of the event or venue is absolutely absurd and an unreasonable expectation. Further, once alcohol flows it seems that consent becomes a secondary thought or concern; again, I challenge you to think about your loved one, your partner. Would you allow an intoxicated stranger at a vanilla venue to touch her/him without permission (consent)? Then why would it be any different anywhere else?
Giving consent to another person is when one is actively agreeing to a sexual experience with another person. Planned Parenthood (n.d.) provides a helpful mnemonic, “Consent is easy as FRIES:”
Freely Given – A decision to play without being pressured or under the influence of drugs or alcohol.
Reversible – Even if you are naked, you are allowed to change your mind.
Informed – Aware of all risks and information for playing with this individual(s).
Enthusiastic – Only do things that you want to participate in doing, you are not expected to do anything at all during a party or event.
Specific – Negotiate exactly what you are comfortable with and don’t change the rules during play to include activities that were not originally discussed for this play session. Just because you might have played a specific way with the same individual in the past doesn’t mean that that experience carries over.
Dr. Holly Richmond, a Somatic Psychologist and Certified Sex Therapist provided that “all sex is good sex as long as it’s consensual and pleasurable.” You agree to play within your comfort level with that particular individual in that moment and in that space. Regardless of the environment, consent is about being in the present moment.
Asking permission should be a standard throughout the lifestyle, and unfortunately, many struggle with this concept. The lifestyle is a delicate dance between a couple and an outsider can never really know the rules of play within another’s relationship without communication (consent). By feeling as if you can simply walk up to another individual at an event and touch them without permission you are putting that individual in a position of less power than yourself. You are boldly stating that you have power over that individual and are removing their ability to decline your advancements in a very vulnerable environment. This can prove to be a dangerous situation for all involved parties. Personally, if someone were to walk up to me and start touching me without consent you can count on Fox stepping in to stop that action immediately. He might be polite or he might not be depending on the severity of the situation. That’s definitely not the ideal mood for a lifestyle event when it is meant to be sexy, fun, and erotic.
In closing, you are responsible for your actions while at an event or party and it is your responsibility to ask for consent before you do anything with anyone. You are not entitled to anything, and just because you are at a lifestyle party that doesn’t mean that everyone wants to play with you. We are all consenting adults but I may not consent to you touching me; always ask first.
Stephanie Sigler MS,NCC,LPC
The Kinky Koach | Co-Owner
Licensed Professional Counselor
- Planned Parenthood. (n.d.). What Is Sexual Consent?: Facts About Rape & Sexual Assault. Retrieved December 12, 2020, from https://www.plannedparenthood.org/learn/relationships/sexual-consent