Sex is an amazing part of life. Some people say otherwise, but in reality, these days sex is primarily about pleasure and enjoyment. I think most young people figure that out fairly quickly, so there’s no need to hide it. Sex can be part of a powerful connection to another person. It can heighten emotions and feelings of intimacy. Conversely, it can be something shared between relative strangers. Something exciting and new and maybe never to be repeated.

When you are young men, out in the world, it’s only natural that sex will be something you seek. You might chase it quietly, wanting the love and affection that comes with it in a committed relationship. Perhaps you will pursue it with an appetite, wanting to experience all the variety that life can offer you in this area. You might hold out for that special someone or you might have two dozen someones come into your life at various times, all special in their own way. Whichever way you decide to run your sex life is fine by me, but there are things you should know.

Emotional Readiness

Emotional readiness is just as important for boys as it is for girls. If you have any doubts, wait. The world will not run out of sex while it waits for you to feel mature enough to cope with it! As a teenager, especially, it is a big responsibility. If you don’t think you could cope with the potential consequences, don’t do it. And, most importantly, don’t have sex for someone else. Don’t let anyone pressure you, whether it’s a potential partner or a group of mates that you want to impress. Someone who cares for you, whether it be a friend or partner, shouldn’t push you into something you’re not ready for if their care is genuine.

Responsibilities

Being sexually active means a whole new set of responsibilities, some of which you might not have thought about:

  • Your own safety is important. Don’t leave it in anyone else’s hands. Your partner, depending on their gender, might be taking the contraceptive pill or might have a clean bill of health. Both of those things are fabulous but a little more safety never hurt anyone. Condoms are cheap as chips and can help to protect you and your partner from accidental pregnancies and many sexually transmitted infections.

  • Know that no form of contraception is 100% effective. Pills, IUDs and even condoms have a failure rate. Minimise that risk by learning how to use condoms properly but know that there is still a chance that it will fail.
  • While you’re still a teenager, decide whether or not the possible consequences are something you feel equipped to deal with. What would you do? What would your partner do? If you’re having sex before adulthood (realistically, many teenagers do) then you need to discuss the possible outcomes with your partner. This means teen pregnancy and the possibility of infections that could have life-long consequences.
  • We are each responsible for gaining the consent of our partner and this is a huge responsibility that you should never, ever ignore.

How To Avoid Being A Rapist

Does that sound harsh? Are you maybe a little bit offended at the suggestion that you, darling boy, could commit such a heinous act? I can understand that. The thing is, women are more likely to be sexually assaulted by men that they know.  Often, these men are their friends or intimate partners. These are regular guys. Guys that you might know. If they were accused of sexual assault or rape, I would lay money on the fact that many of them would be horrified. Many would immediately deny it because they wouldn’t recognise their actions as sexual assault. Often, it comes down to a culture in which many men do not understand the concept of consent. Which is why I’m writing this. I don’t want you to be one of those guys. Make sure you have the full and enthusiastic consent of your partner.

Considerations Around Consent

  • We have to remember that reasoning like “Well, she didn’t say no…” is not good enough.

In life, with the exception of medical emergencies, the absence of “no” never means yes. You can’t walk up to someone holding a pair of scissors, announce that you’ll be cutting their hair off and then do so. “Well, they didn’t say no…” wouldn’t hold up in court, would it? We have to remember that fight and flight aren’t the only responses to unwanted sexual contact. Freezing and withdrawing is a well-documented response. Someone not moving much and maybe saying very little may be experiencing this. A person might say no but not really struggle or fight to stop you.  This is not consent.

If you ask a yes or no question like “do you want to have sex?” you must obtain an answer. “Yes” is not our default setting. More often than not, no immediate answer means the person might be considering how to say “no” without causing offence or upset.

 

People can and do have sex while impaired. What I’m suggesting is that you consider not doing that. You might meet someone on a night out and hit it off, sure. There’s nothing to stop you meeting up another time. And at that time, you can be sure you have their full and unimpaired consent. You need to be very careful when it comes to mixing sex and drinking.

  • If the person you want to have sex with has said “no” or made any indication of not being 100% into it, STOP.

If you find yourself trying to convince someone, in any way, you need to stop. Don’t try to coerce or pressure someone into sleeping with you. Never try to exert any force over their decision. No threats, no wheedling. Don’t make someone gratify you sexually when they don’t want to. Pressuring someone to consent invalidates that consent. Consent should be enthusiastically and freely given.

This is the practice of having consensual sex while wearing a condom. During intercourse, the person wearing the condom removes it without the consent of their partner. Any practice like this is wrong on far too many levels. If someone consents to having sex with you, provided you wear a condom, that is your ‘sexual contract’. Don’t break it. You have no right to expose them to the potential consequences of unprotected sex.

  • Consent can be withdrawn.

At any time, a person can decide to stop having sex that they have previously agreed to. This goes for everyone of all genders. Withdrawal of consent must be respected; coercing or forcing someone to continue? That’s sexual assault. And remember, consent is a one-time deal. Someone consenting once doesn’t mean they are consenting to future encounters.

In short…

Sex can be wonderful, boys, it really can. I don’t want to scare you; I want to prepare you. Make sure you’re ready for all it entails and that you know what your responsibilities are.

Further reading:

Tea and Consent (video) Transcript available here.

Sexual consent isn’t really like a cup of tea but at least we’re talking about it.

Australian Age of Consent Laws.

Laws Around Consent.

 

 

#IBOT @ Capturing Life.

Cover image: Pixabay.

Gifs via Giphy.

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  • LydiaCLee

    Great post. There’s also I consent to sex but not to THAT. A good rule of thumb is ‘If I wouldn’t like it done to me, she probably won’t like it either’. Just because she consents to sex, doesn’t mean a free for all with her body….

  • Good post, Amy. I hope lots of young men and boys read it.

  • A serious issue, but so important that people understand it. Thanks for writing about it openly and honestly.

  • Great post. As a survivor I appreciate all the discussion these days around consent. Xx

    • Thank you Deb. If it helps change one mind, it’s worth it.

  • As usual, brilliantly written – open, honest and spot on.

  • I hope young men (and women) get to read this. If mine were the appropriate age they would be.

  • TeganMC

    This is a great, easy to understand guide. It’s obvious that there needs to be better education on what consent actually is.

  • I wish my mumma had told me this when I was young. I was way too young. Ill advised and had a lot of awful experiences as a result.

  • Brilliant post Amy. I have the task (with the hubster) of teaching my boys all these things. By crickey i hope to hell we get it right like our parents did. I love “the world won’t run out of sex” Haha! Perfect description for a teen/20 something mindset!! #teamIBOT (sorry for late response – killer week!)