Rebel Without A Pause: 3 Ways To Stay Safe In Sex


Rebel Without A Pause:

Three Ways to Stay Emotionally and Physically Safe in Sex

By Shana Stanberry Parker Sc.D.

Jenny (not her real name) is 22 year-old who has been dating Josh for a year. In her recent reading about sexuality she has become intrigued with different scenarios to heighten sexual passion. What she has not read about are the different communities such as the BDSM community, which have a norm of written contracts to encourage consensual safe sexual interactions. Here is an excerpt from Jenny’s journal in which she discovers that just rebelling against norms is not the right way to learn about herself.

Jenny’s Journal:

I wanted him to choke me and call me dirty names. “Slut” or “cunt” would do and slapping me would be good too. But he seems hesitant I can see it in his eyes and I get mad.

“What kind of pussy are you?” I yell.

In his quiet steady strong voice he simply says “no.”

I throw a fit stomping my feet and clenching my fists. That is my first clue. I used to have outbursts of anger a long time ago.

A small part of my brain is aware that this kind of anger is the action of a younger girl not getting her way; a younger Jenny who obeyed her daddy and smiled prettily for him and dressed like a little lady to ease his mind that in fact his little girl was not these dirty names.

It takes me a long time to realize that I couldn’t know if these are the things I want from a place of real desire. I finally see that  are things I want him to do to help me rebel! I want to try to break out of some mold to discover who I really am in my sexual self.  I haven’t a clue about who I am sexually.

While I got I mad in that moment when he wouldn’t do what I asked, now in the quiet of my own room I am glad I have picked a boyfriend who has enough of his own integrity to that he can be a man by saying “no” to me when something doesn’t feel right or safe.

In Jenny’s Journal she is writing about confusion that many women and their men have in the process of discovering who they are sexually and what they really want.

Lets look at 3 things you and your partner need to discuss:

1. Where does safety fit in to hot sex?

2.  What about male consent?

3. What is the difference between rebelling and desire?

1. Where does safety fit into hot sex?

At the top of the list!

I should say that again: at the top of the list! Without a feeling of safety, intimacy cannot be maintained or cultivated. The hallmark of a healthy, intimate and lasting relationship is safety. Only when you feel safe in your relationship can you experiment in an authentic way. Experimenting can be fun and hot. But it needs to be discussed and agreed upon or else it does not feel safe for either partner. That is why the formalization of consent has been a tradition in the BDSM community.

If you don’t feel safe take a look at this list of what is abuse and discuss what you need with your partner. If he or she is not available for that conversation either leave or get some professional help.

2. What about male consent?

There is a maelstrom of conversation in our culture right now about consent. It is mainly focused on the abuse of male power. Since most of the abuse occurs in this arena it’s appropriate for the spotlight to be on this prevalent and destructive dynamic.

But in Jenny’s journal we are seeing something different. Jenny is asking for her boyfriend to act in a way that he has not agreed to and is not comfortable with. They have not discussed experimenting. She is demanding something that doesn’t feel right to him and then she is demeaning him for standing up for himself. Her boyfriend has a respect for women that he cannot reconcile with her request for abuse. What’s a guy to do? She is accusing him of not being a man.

Thankfully Josh knows that being a man includes saying “no.” He has his own boundaries, and he trusts that his desire to protect her is more important than pleasing her in the midst of an upset.  Later they can talk about what is true for him and true for her and how they can experiment in a way that works for both of them. Then they will have made some real progress toward intimacy and supporting Jenny in trying on new sexual roles to discover who she is authentically.

3. What is the difference between rebelling and desire?

Very simply rebelling is something we all do when we don’t want to be living in a way that is prescribed from the outside. That is different from knowing who we are and expressing that whether it meets cultural norms or not.  At every stage of development from the time we are two we begin our small rebellious steps on the way to discovering what is uniquely true for us from the inside.

The real issue here is how do we discover what we truly desire? Rebelling can be done in safe, consensual way that leads to experimenting and the discovery and celebration of who we are sexually!

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Much later after Jenny and Josh had discussed consent and experimented sexually she discovered what really turned her on: his loving and sexually dominating manner that stayed in tune with her pleasure.