Posted at 00:25 on 7 Feb 2012 by Pandora Blake
Consent is complicated, and playing with non-consent can be really difficult to do in a way that feels reassuring and secure for all concerned. This short film, found via Kitty Stryker, offers an awesome introduction to the complexities of non-consent play:
The "obvious answer" to the problem posed by this film is to use a safeword, but safewords can also be pretty complex. There's a lot to say about safewords, but right now I want to focus on the negotiation part of non-consent play.
Holly wrote an excellent post recently called Rescripting Sex, which proposed an alternative script for communicative sex. This was very clearly put forward as one possible example of a consensual script, which wouldn't necessarily work for everyone, but which hopefully shows a way in which negotiating during sex can be sexy rather than mood-killing.
Script: Communicative Sex That Doesn't Suck
Partners A and B are alone together. A detects (or wishful-thinks) the whiff of romance/lust in the air. A says to B, "You are so goddamn cute, you know that? I'd really like to make out with you." B answers by leaning in and passionately kissing him.
B puts a finger on A's top button and asks "may I?" with a wicked grin and a raised eyebrow. He nods and she opens his shirt, touching and kissing down his chest. "Shall we take this to the bedroom?" she asks, looking up at him, her lips brushing his skin just above the line of his jeans. A responds by taking her hand and leading her there. B sits on the bed and starts undoing her clothes. She pulls A into the bed with her.
"Do you want to have sex?" A asks.
"Oh hell yes," B says, and starts kissing A again. She brings her hand down to the level of his zipper but hesitates, making eye contact before going further. "Hang on," A says, "just so you know, I really don't like having my balls touched."
"Okay," B says, "but can I play with your cock?"
"Please," A replies, and she slips her hand into his pants, his answer turning to a groan as she wraps her hand around his cock and begins to stroke.
And you know, so forth. I'm not trying to make this particular scenario a prescriptive thing. People communicate in different ways. What really matters is that you know rather than hope that whatever your communication style is, it's in sync--that the other person is intentionally sending all the signals that you're receiving, and vice versa. It's also nice to get in a little more specificity, both physically and emotionally, than "sex or not sex." Also, when you're used to this degree of extremely engaged back-and-forth, it's really obvious when something's wrong or the other person isn't really into it.
When your sex includes non-consent play, this sort of negotiation necessarily looks a bit different. In the past, I've mostly gone for the pre-negotiation method: talking beforehand about what you'd like, how you think it might work, what you think your boundaries will be, and then just going for it and seeing what happens - with essential debriefing and discussion afterwards. I like planning and post-morteming scenes and analysing my responses, so that's always worked pretty well for me. But I've also started branching out into the sort of on-the-fly negotiation that Holly is talking about.
I recently played a hot, edgy anal scene which pushed some boundaries and tried some new things. Quite a lot of negotiation went into it, but it didn't all happen at once.
Tom usually reads me quite well, but when things are unclear we back that up with verbal communication. For instance, if I'm finding a spanking really hard to take and am struggling and yelling more than usual, he'll check in with me. "You seem to be struggling with this today," he might say, stroking my back. I might say, "yeah, I guess so. Sorry, I think I need you to go easy on me today." Or I might say, "Actually, I think what I need right now is to make a big fuss, but I don't want you to hold back - is that okay?"
We do have a safeword, too: his real name. I very rarely use that one, though. If I need him to back off a bit, but don't want the scene to end, I'll say, "I'm struggling" or "shit, argh, give me a minute," or "ow ow ow please, please, I'm finding this really hard". If I need the scene to stop I'll say "I don't think this is working" or "hang on, I just need to [go to the loo/take a breather/uncrick my neck]" or "sorry, can we pause for a bit". Mostly, our zone is one where he's being encouraging and I'm being obedient, so none of these comments are invitations to override me.
The first scene we played that day, the one that didn't work, ended when I safeworded. At the time, I didn't realise that was what I was doing; but he stopped, which was the right thing to do. He'd given me three cane strokes, not hard, but cold, and I wasn't really in the right mood to take them yet. He switched to the other side and gave me another one. I reared up and said "Ow - no - fuck - okay, that's too much." He said, "okay, I'm going to leave it there." Everything up to the fuck wouldn't have been a safeword, if I'd left it at that. In fact the whole thing might not have been, except my tone of voice made it clear that it needed to be. We cuddled and talked about it, and yes, I felt bad for not being able to cope, but stopping was the right thing to do, and we played a good scene once we'd recovered.
2. Establishing a code
In our dynamic, it's the times that I want my consent to be overridden which are explicitly encoded. Rather than having an "I need to stop" safeword, we have clear signals for "I don't REALLY want to stop". These have been agreed when we're talking after a scene in which we needed clearer communication; or talking about things we'd like to do and how we might approach them. They are:
"No, please / Please, no". This means Please, yes; please let me resist you; please, don't stop. I'm very careful not to say "please, no" or "please don't" if I actually want him to stop.
"Please don't do X, sir." This means Please do X, please make me take it. I'm going to beg you not to but please do it anyway. The "sir" makes it extra clear that I'm consenting to stay in scene.
In general, if I say "Sir", I am signalling my desire to continue the scene. "Please, sir, this isn't good for my back" expresses my need for a different position while making it clear that I want to continue playing.
On my previous visit, he gave my thighs a couple of smacks while I was over the knee. This was horribly painful, and it struck me that it would be the hottest thing ever if he held me down and did it some more. So I said, "Please, sir, not my thighs." He picked up on the cue, and growled to me that he would spank my thighs if he so wished, and that he wanted to train me to be able to take it for him. I communicated my assent by saying, "Please, no, not there, sir, please, that would be horrible."
When he did so, I went quiet. He needed to check in on my reactions, so he stopped spanking me and drew me into his arms. He stroked my hair and seemed prepared to stop if I needed him to. I realised I needed to make my consent more explicit. Nervously, urgently, I said "Please dont spank my thighs, sir. Please dont hold me down. I would hate that."
I love anal play, but thanks to the embarrassing, unglamorous reality of haemorrhoids I've not been able to indulge that kink much in the last few years. Visiting the bathroom on my most recent visit, I realised that things in that area weren't as bad as usual. I did a little investigation on my own without ill effect, and came to the conclusion that play might finally be possible.
Coming back to bed, I whispered this discovery to Tom. He loves anal sex, but I admitted that actual fucking might not be possible on a first try. "If I were you," I said, "I'd start with a vibrator and lots of lube - I find those much better than a finger for relaxing me - and play with that for a while, and see where it goes."
He nodded. "That sounds like lots of fun."
"That might be as far as we get the first time, but practice makes perfect." I grinned. "And you did mention you liked the idea of buttplugs, if you wanted to train me to get used to it again..."
We enjoyed ourselves for a while talking about the possibilities and practicalities of plugs. I thought of something else: "Oh, and the other thing you could do - I love this but it's totally embarrassing -"
"- is ... oh god, I can't believe I'm saying this ... like, inspecting me. Um. Like, pulling my cheeks apart. And having a look. I find that REALLY hot, in a horrible humiliating sort of way."
"I imagine I can probably work with that," he smiled.
4. Communication in action
I'm sitting in his lap and he's roughly fondling my breasts. I squirm and writhe in his lap, and our body language establishes a power shift: when he does the things I like best, I yelp and look down, bashfully, as if embarrassed to meet his eyes. I put my wrists submissively behind my back, making my breasts more vulnerable. He responds by doing more of the things I like.
When he takes my throat in one hand, I whimper "no sir, please" because having my neck gripped is really fucking hot. That gives him permission to grip more roughly, to throw me backwards onto the bed, to pull my head back by the hair. Despite my protests, I signal my assent to all of this by making free with the sexy noises and meeting his eye with a gleeful grin whenever I get the chance. All this gives me the space to say "please" and "no" as much as I like while he hauls me up against the wall and shoves his cock in my mouth. My cunt backs up the unspoken yes half of my communication by getting ridiculously wet, as he quickly discovers.
On his instruction, I kneel up to arrange pillows in the middle of the bed for me to bend over. Cheeks flushed, eyes sparkling, I realise there's something I desperately want him to do, which I couldn't expect him to know about. I don't even know if he'd want to do it.
"I've had a filthy idea," I admit, blushing.
"It's a fantasy I've had for ages..."
"What is it?"
"You know I was saying about, um, inspecting me..."
"Well, I'd quite like you to ... ohh, I don't even know if I can say it. Oh, god." I hide my head in my hands. He waits, patiently. "I'd like you to, um, get a cane, and..." It's no use: I can't say it.
He thinks. "Huh. Really? I'm not sure that would work." He fetches a cane, showing me the end, and I realise he thinks I'm talking about penetration.
"No - no. I mean, a much thinner one. And... um... whip me there. Very lightly, I mean."
He looks at me, smiling. "Would you really?"
"Um. It's more about the humiliation than the impact. Not very hard, of course. I've never done it before. I just, it's something I've thought about..."
His smile is broader now. "I'll bear that in mind."
After whipping my buttocks with the riding crop, he picks up on my earlier idea and plays with my arse cheeks, pulling them apart, trailing a finger between. I hide my blushing face in the pillow and beg him not to, all while not moving a muscle to stop him and lifting my hips as high as they'll go.
When he picks up a cane and begins to tap me there, firstly I think I might actually die from arousal and embarrassment, and then I communicate my consent by moaning and sobbing no no no, oh god, no, please, I can't bear it. I trust that he won't actually stop unless I cut the whimpering and ask him to stop in a normal voice.
I honestly didn't expect us to have anal sex this time, but after giving me an anal orgasm with his dildo, and fucking my cunt for a while, we both wanted to try. I can't remember what we said to make this clear to each other, but I definitely agreed before he began. And it hurt - it always hurts - and I rubbed my clit and rested my forehead on the pillows and probably said "please, no" quite a lot as well. Had I withdrawn my consent, I would have stopped rubbing my clit, and said something other than "please, no", like "argh, no, that's a bit too painful actually," or "sorry, I think we need to stop". But I didn't, and begging him to stop definitely made it sexier for me, and easier to get through the painful bit and into the bit that was so horny it felt fucking fantastic.
After the scene, I showed him a blogpost which had recently got me craving anal sex again, in which she also finds it horny and helpful to beg him to stop and have her "no" ignored. We ended up talking quite a lot about consent and negotiation, and when no is no and when it's yes, and how you tell. We agreed that it can be problematic and dangerous to tell non-consent stories out of context. In fact, Girl on the Net wrote a follow-up post about Consent and the meaning of 'no' which added some context, and expressed the complexity of consent and non-consent play.
I haven't always felt comfortable or confident asking for what I want in scene, or indeed saying "no" when actually I mean "yes". It's taken a lot of conversations, experiments and post-mortems to develop a language we're both comfortable with.
It's also involved a lot of porny clichés, hammy tone of voice and body language, because sometimes over-acting how turned on you are is the clearest signal you can give that you want to carry on while your mouth is saying "no, please stop".
After reading Holly's proposed script for communicative, enthusiastic consensual sex, I thought people might be interested in hearing one script for communicative non-consensual sex. This isn't the only way of doing it, and you'll probably have your own codes and signals and ideas. I feel like our mechanisms for playing at "please, no" are still fairly simplistic. But if you're new to this sort of thing, I don't think simple is a bad place to start. And hopefully, the above examples show that communicative play can be hot and non-disruptive, even when you're playing with non-consent.