Consent is Conditional

Rewind my life a few years back:

I’ve been violated. He said sorry and I couldn’t figure out why he did, until he finished. I consented to sex, but I asked to use a condom. I didn’t consent to unprotected sex, yet he slipped the condom off anyways.

I felt violated. He took my body for granted for his momentary pleasure, and he didn’t think twice about what that split second decision could’ve meant for my future. The thought of a man putting my future second, and his orgasm first was mortifying to me. I wasn’t on birth control so I took Plan B the next day, and starting bleeding randomly not much longer after that. I was scared. I never wanted my safety to be jeopardized by a man ever again. And so, I went on birth control.

Fast forward a little bit:

A series of late-night, consensual hookups led to a series of un-consensual mornings where they woke me up by playing with me. I didn’t know what to do – because I was never taught that I was worth respecting and they never learned that women were worth respecting – but I stopped seeing them every time that happened. Eventually, I stopped dating because the unawareness regarding the lack of respect towards my body and self became too apparent.

Fast Forward a year later:

I finally felt like I found a guy that respected me as woman, but also as a person. Although maybe I imagined finding a guy that respected me, I tried to fit him into that narrattive. He fucked me, and broke my heart right afterwards. I asked why he slept with me if he knew that he was going to break up with me that night. He replied that he felt like I wanted it… and I did, but for some reason I still felt violated.

Resume in the present moment:

I kept thinking about what he said: that ‘he felt like I wanted it’. I realized that my consent had been given on the presumption that our intimate actions were building blocks towards a committed relationship. I acted the way that I did, opened myself up the way I did, because I was invested in something more than just sex. I ‘wanted it’, but only because I wanted the intimate relationship that I tied to the sexual relationship. My consent was given based on the conditions that he wasn’t going to break up with me right after. If he was honest about his intentions, maybe I still would’ve wanted it, but at least I wouldn’t have felt violated.

Now, I realize how important it is to me to be transparent in a relationship, whether it’s serious or casual. If I let them know exactly how I feel when I get clarity on my needs and desires, then maybe the honesty will be reciprocated. So far, it’s proving to be true.

Entry by Shayla Hickerson

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