So I was talking about consent with Lyra earlier and finally found a way to put into words how I feel about it, more or less.
Consent isn’t something that’s in your way to access something (sex, but other forms of intimacy too, including kink, and relationships in general. Consent isn’t just about sex). It’s not a barrier you have to remove or get past to get to the goods. If you’re seeing someone’s ability to consent (or not consent) as an obstacle, there’s a good chance you’re already on the edge of abuse.
Consent is a foundation.
You’re building a house with someone. That house can be sex, it can be kink, it can be other kinds of intimacy, or relationships. But let’s focus on sex for now.
Sex is something you do with two people (or more). You’re building something with them. Consent is the foundation on which you build.
If you don’t have it, then your house collapses. It’s not sex, it’s rape. All you’ll get is a pile of rubble. If someone consented but then feels too uncomfortable and retracts that consent, if you stop then what you built is still there. It’s still strong. But if you keep going without their consent, you’re building on foundations that aren’t stable anymore, and things will eventually collapse too. And you sapped them yourself. If you pressure someone into sex with you and they’re unsure or uncomfortable, your foundations are unstable and will gradually bring your house down, too, because you didn’t take the time to build solid foundations through open communication.
And you can desire someone, you can be excited about building that house even when you haven’t built those foundations yet. It doesn’t make you an asshole. You can also, through communication, teach each other the skills you need so you can build said foundations, because not everyone was raised by good bricklayers. You can research, you can teach each other. Sometimes people have spent time in broken down houses so they’re extra scared of having the roof fall over their heads again, and it takes longer to make those foundations really stable.
Consent is a base, and it’s something you build. It’s absolutely necessary, but it’s not something isolated from the act, not something you need to get past. It’s integral to any intimacy, and it’s just as exciting. “They said yes so I can finally have what I want” is the bare fucking minimum. It’s barely consent at all.
Build your foundations.