If She Was Asking For It, Why Couldn't You?
By Autumn Morris
“Is this okay?”, he asked as he gently lowered me into the bed.
When I realized he was waiting on a response, I paused in disbelief. Of course this was okay. He was perfect, THIS was perfect.
I had never heard those words before. It occurred to me that this, in fact, was the “consent” concept that everybody talks about. In this moment, I had the power to choose what came next.
It wasn’t awkward or disingenuous. It was beautiful.
I had always assumed consent was taught but not practiced. My past had taught me that men take what they want.
I soon realized that my former assumptions were ignorant and my former experiences were distasteful. I knew because long after that night’s engagement, the words still echoed in my head, “is this okay?” This idea of consent was very clearly something that no one should bypass. The power these words were holding perplexed me.
This was my first lesson in consent.
As much as this was a phenomenon to me, he was merely exercising my basic human rights.
But the story continues...
That one night became the beginning of a series of engagements. And while I waited for him to stop asking, he never did. “Is this good for you? Do you like this? Are you okay?” Every time, without fail, there was never a moment when I was not given the power of choice.
At first, I was puzzled. Why would he keep asking after I already said yes? I would later learn the importance of this. With every “are you ok”, he gave me the space to change my mind. For now, my second lesson in consent was having the space to change my mind.
And our story continues...
One evening, we found ourselves together again. The feelings ran deeper than ever before, I felt safer with him than I did without him - his smell calmed me, his touch made me smile. So when he told me he wanted me, the feeling was mutual.
We sexually engaged as we had so many times before. But this time was different. I began to feel the warmth flood from my body and my heart began to pound.
He was perfect, THIS was perfect, but something in my head was not. My headspace was thrown back into a dark place I hadn’t visited in a while. A place prior to this man, prior to my lesson in the power of choice, prior to my knowledge of the ability to change my mind. A place where abuse, rape, and assault existed. The place that had made me think consent was something taught but no one really did.
He was perfect, THIS was perfect, but in this moment I didn’t see him. I saw flashbacks and hallucinations of men colder than he could ever be.
It was at this moment that I learned my third lesson in consent: the power to say no.
He froze, he knew something was off, but he didn’t know what, “are you okay,” he asked in the most sincere voice.
“NO, PLEASE STOP, JUST HOLD ME”, I screamed as tears gushed down my cheeks.
He stopped, he held me, but most importantly, he honored my power to say no in that moment.
The necessity to ask for consent doesn’t expire. No matter how long you’ve known the person, no matter how much you think you know about what they want. We are all entitled to the power of choice. The choice to choose what we want done to our bodies and what we do not. The space to change our minds. The power to say no.
But our story continues…
My experiences with him taught me a lot. Once I began to understand how powerful consent is, I realized how equally powerful reciprocation is.
This was my fourth and final lesson in consent.
So now I find myself asking the same questions that I once thought were so silly: “Is this good? Do you like this? Are you okay.” Because just like me, he and any future partner have the power of choice, the power to change their mind, and the power to say no.
This is my consent story, what is yours?