Consent, Respect, and a Conversation on Manhood

Author’s note: This reflection was modified from a conversation with a friend who had experienced unwanted sexual advances. She was brave, stood against those advances, and made the world a bit better by fighting against the society that enables bad male behavior.

Every human deserves to be respected simply by virtue of being a human who is as valuable as any other.

To all of the males out there and the society that enables them,We’ve heard, “Boys will be boys”, … but don’t continue that thought to see that “men should be men.”

If being told no by a woman (man or other person) is so destructive to a male’s ego, then that male is a fragile boy who has not taken the time to develop resilience, mental toughness, and humanity enough to deal with the discomfort of disappointment. Our society enables these boys by excusing them because of their hormones, their “male instinct,” and their expectations of promiscuity.

Life is filled with disappointment, discomfort, and compromise. Real men learn how to manage their disappointment, be comfortable with discomfort, and incorporate their partners needs into a relationship. Society promoting the idea that males are overwhelmed with lust if left unsatisfied when aroused gives males an excuse to never do the hard work of dealing with disappointment and discomfort. Besides, we’ve already found a great self-treatment method for the release of sexual arousal (in fact, there are a good variety of materials, techniques, and lubricants to assist in the process).

Real men also know respecting their partner’s needs and boundaries is the ultimate compliment. Respecting “No” means that men value their partner as an equal human with needs equal in importance to their own. That means a male’s arousal does not supersede their partner’s desires.
The best way for men to demonstrate this respect is to ask for explicit consent. I’ve taught somewhere around 2,500 people about consent, and it’s amazing the misconceptions we have about the topic. The major misconception is that if males directly ask partners for sexual activity, that it “kills the mood.” That’s bullshit, and here’s why.

Going into a potential sexual encounter, your partner has very likely made up their mind about whether they want to be sexually active or not. If they agree, they likely made that decision beforehand and vice versa. Therefore, you asking for consent doesn’t change their mind. Instead, it communicates that you respect your partner enough to explicitly confirm with them the boundaries of a sexual encounter and to ensure their comfort and feelings of safety.

I have had these conversations in my relationship and sometimes my partner would say no and other times they would say yes to sexual activity. That’s OK. I would rather have them say no and be honest than feel pressured into a sexual situation for which they aren’t ready. If they feel pressured to have sex, that relationship is unlikely to last.

Last bit, if anyone feels the need to get prospective partners intoxicated to have sex, then that person is a coward who is more afraid of being told no than being a rapist.

To those who aspire to manhood: Be a real man, ask for consent, and learn to deal with discomfort.