No means no, and not being able to say no also means no

I’ve just come across possibly the worst and possibly most dangerous piece of sexual advice I’ve ever seen in my life. It appeared on a Toronto newspaper’s website about a year ago. A woman wrote in and said that her husband told her he had had sex with her when she was asleep. The wife was shocked and thought that must be rape. She was asleep so could not and did not consent. She asked the columnist what she thought about it and what she should do. The columnist told this woman that if she didn’t feel safe having ‘sleep sex’ with her husband there were probably deeper issues in her marriage that she needed to address and that she shouldn’t worry too much about what happened!

Now you can imagine, as I believe consent to be one of the most important aspect of any sexual encounter, I was absolutely horrified!  Consent is what allows us to keep our partners and ourselves safe. When we know that our partner has willingly agreed to get sexy with us, and that we are also happy with the situation, then we are safe to relax and enjoy the experience.

If you are ever in a situation when you are not sure if you have consent or not – ASK! Get really really clear before you proceed. If your partner is going to be unable to speak at the time (I’m thinking ball gags, sub space, etc), have a chat beforehand AND have a very clear signal that you have both agreed on ahead of time.

If your partner is asleep that does not give you the right to ‘sleep shag’ them. Whether you’re married or not, whether you’re in a relationship or not, whether you’ve had sex with this person a million times or not, a sleeping person can not give consent. Consent from previous interactions doesn’t count either. The only way that having sex with someone who is sleeping is ok is if they’ve given you permission beforehand to do exactly that.

Unless you have a clear YES from your partner, make no assumptions and do not proceed!

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