“Yes! Yes! Yes!”

We all want to hear it more often. I want to hear it as often as humanly possible. There is very little that is hotter than a man or woman screaming out affirmations as you’re rolling around together, making your sheets dirty.

Of course, it’s important that they’re actually screaming “yes” and not some variation of “Uhh, not tonight, I have a headache” or “Sorry, I just don’t like you that way.”

It’s important before you start having sex that you know your partner wants it. That’s a pretty basic rule, but it can sometimes be trickier to follow than you think. A lot of us have had those moments where we think, “No, I won’t have sex,” and then we get down to it and our feelings change.

There are also those times when you’re in the heat of the moment and you both want to just rush forward. It doesn’t really seem like you need to stop and say, “I just want to make sure you want to be doing this” when moisture and hardness and hormones are speaking for you.

Even in those situations, though, it’s important that you both give and get consent. It can be quick and simple; just throw an “Is this okay?” to your partner as you’re sliding under and over them. Then you get to hear that sexy “yes.”

Part of the reason consent gets so tricky is that it can be hard to admit that you want to have sex. Especially if you started off the night planning on staying celibate, it can be hard to say even to yourself that your plans have changed. The problem with not verbalizing what’s going on, though, is that it leaves everyone involved in an uncertain position. Most people have no interest in forcing themselves on others, but if there’s no communication it’s a lot easier for it to happen by accident.

A lot of people, especially women, do play hard to get, saying “No” when they really mean “Try harder because I really mean yes.” Even though society – particularly college – is more open about sex than it used to be, there’s still a stigma associated with sexual behavior. Women in particular face prejudice or even ostracism if they’re seen as too sexual. By refusing to give verbal consent, even when the consent is felt and implied, people can hold onto the idea that they are innocent and above reproach.

Sex, though, is a healthy expression of emotion and can be a good way to have fun and find pleasure. As much as it can be hard to go against the culture that has programmed us since birth to hide and be ashamed of our sexuality, it’s important to own up to what we do. When we say “no” and mean “yes,” it detracts from our own and everyone else’s genuine no’s. To protect ourselves and others, we’ve got to say what we mean and mean what we say.

It’s also important to keep in mind that you can always say no if you don’t want to continue what you’re doing. There is no “point of no return” of sexual acts past when you must have intercourse (or give a blow job). No matter how much you have done so far, it’s always okay to say, “I want to stop now.”

Having had sex before with someone does not imply consent, either. While it can be easier to take short cuts with consent when you’ve already been sleeping with someone, just keep in mind that you are never obligated to go to bed with someone a second or third or 500th time. If she had a few too many uncontrolled teeth interfering with her last blow job or he had a jackrabbit problem, say, “no thanks” the next time.

One easy way to include consent in your sexual activities is to keep condoms around. If you have to go for the condom, it gives you a natural break in your activities to find out if your partner wants to move ahead. If you’ve got consent and you’re both safe and happy, it’s easier to have fun, get off and stay sane.

Waddill is a member of the class of 2009.

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