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With the Feminist narrative growing in popularity alongside the hook-up culture, many of us are faced with a pertinent question: How do you ask for consent, give it, and define the limits of these permissions during hook-ups? Since not all of us are as suave and domineering as Mr. Christian Grey, a contract would just be creepy. But of course, not asking for consent could also get you in trouble – especially if substance use is involved. What can you do then, that will seem moderate and secure?

For you to consider before you meet them:

  1. You should begin by defining your boundaries for yourself. These can be very simple, for example, “I don’t want anyone I hook-up with to touch/penetrate my anus,” or, “I will not give a blowjob to any hook-up.” The rules you set for people you know can be different from those you set for strangers/acquaintances, even if you have a no-strings relationship with both kinds of people.
  2. When you’re meeting someone alone for the first time, don’t get too drunk! Too much alcohol not only makes you seem vulnerable and messy, but also interferes with your sex drive, your memory formation, and your rational decision-making skills. But if you use just enough alcohol, you’ll open up and step out of your comfort zone without losing all memory of it and regretting everything the next morning. Remember, moderation is key.
  3. It can often be difficult to say whether or not you would be interested in sleeping with someone you’ve only met virtually, but giving it some thought beforehand can help you make a decision on the spot. Ask yourself: Am I in the right head space for a hook up? Am I doing it as a starting move towards a relationship or is it definitely not going anywhere? How much of this decision is governed by my relationship with my ex? Thinking about these things is important because they may affect you later. You don’t have to ask your friends or parents about the morality of hooking up. You should only be worried about how you view the hook-up culture, and the role that casual sex plays in your life.
Make it clear that some zones are private zones, even to those you’re having sex with!

For when you’re making the decision:

  1. Pull away from them, completely. Don’t allow your body to distract you from the situation. Look into their eyes, smile, and ask, “Do you want to go all the way?” – IF you want to. If you don’t want to, tell them, “I’m sorry, it’s not the right time for me now.” Be polite but affirmative.
  2. Just because you’re the man, don’t feel pressured to say yes. It is perfectly normal for you to not want sex, even if you think the woman is attractive, and she’s into you. Just say, “I don’t want to go that far yet,” politely.
  3. Because we’ve been told forever that men like ‘the chase’, women tend to say no and expect men to keep asking until they say yes. But this isn’t the right way to handle a situation like this because it DEVALUES that woman’s words. If you say to a man that you don’t want to have sex at that time, don’t wait around for him to beg. Making it clear that you are a woman of your word will not only make him respect you more, but also provide a better foundation for you to establish boundaries later, if you do have sex.

“The self-evident danger of this view is that it encourages the reader to think of female consent as a foregone conclusion once the pickup artist becomes sufficiently skilled.” 

Donna Zuckerberg

For when you’re establishing boundaries in bed:

  1. If you do decide to go through with the hook up, use your comfort as the only basis for judgment regarding what you’re okay with doing. Although it is uncommon for people to express their innermost fantasies and fetishes during short-lived casual sexual relationships, you should go in expecting the unexpected. The person you’re with could be interested in anything – from bondage to coprophilia. While for most it would be easy to determine on the spot whether they would be into something extreme, some things lie in a grey area. If they want to try riding you, for example – it’s possible for you to be afraid that they might fracture your penis; and it’s perfectly fine to say, “Sorry, I’d rather wait a little before I try that.”
  2. What you definitely should not do, however, is poke fun at their sexual preferences. Just as we know now that it’s natural for men to want men and women to want women, we also know that it’s natural for people to derive sexual pleasure from a variety of things – even things that disgust you. If you believe something they want is so out of your comfort zone that you’d never try it, just say politely, “I’ve never been interested in that kind of sex, but I’d be willing to go so far as to do XYZ with you if you’re interested.”
  3. And lastly, when these things come up in the middle of a moment of passion, it’s difficult to think clearly before reacting. For example, if you’ve never been penetrated anally, or are just sensitive back there, you might instantly smack a hand that touches you there. While this reaction is usually visceral, it’s best to follow it up with something more affirmative, like “I don’t like to be touched there.” And to help save the mood, you could guide their hand to a place where you do like to be touched.

“Tell her that her body belongs to her and her alone, that she should never feel the need to say yes to something she does not want, or something she feels pressured to do. Teach her that saying no when no feels right is something to be proud of.” 

Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

Although these things seem small and insignificant, they help maintain a cordial relationship between you and your partner, and also prevent extreme damage to the sexual atmosphere and mood. If there are any more tips you have for these kinds of situations, do leave a comment below!

Raksha Saraf is an undergraduate student of Psychology looking to specialize in Sexuality and Neuroscience.…  

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