I’ll admit, when I think of sex, I don’t think of talking. I think of doing! Most seem to agree that “the beast with two backs,” as Shakespeare put it, is best as a carnal, animalistic act that doesn’t involve your thought processes. But when it comes to experimentation, this is absolutely no time to keep tight-lipped. Maybe it kills the romance to make a grocery list of Dos And Donts with your partner of your sexual preferences, but I say nothing kills the romance more than being put in the slammer for 18 months, as is the case with one couple whose sexual experimentation led to a prison sentence and Supreme Court ruling in Canada last week, determining that a person must be conscious to give consent for sex.
The ruling is the result of the sexual assault conviction of a man who performed an unwanted sex act on his female partner while she was unconscious. Apparently, the woman was choked unconscious by her common-law spouse during sex, which she had consented to, but when she awoke, she found herself bound and being anally penetrated with a sex toy, something that was not agreed upon beforehand. Chief Justice Beverley McLachlin said in her written conclusion that “… an individual must be conscious throughout the sexual activity in order to provide the requisite consent.” Since then, the now separated couple have begun battling for custody of their child, and the man has been sentenced to 18 months in jail. Surely, all of this drama could have been prevented if the couple had thoroughly talked about their sexual preferences, and their boundaries.
The experimentation this couple enacted has not been without fatalities; both INXS frontman Michael Hutchence and actor David Carradine died from auto-erotic asphyxiation. But when done with a partner you trust in a safe environment, there is an argument to be made for consensual choking. The key? Don’t skip dialogue before you tap into your carnal desires.
Discuss your boundaries: Everything from dirty talk and love bites, to use of force and acrobatic positions, should all be cleared and okay’d beforehand. We all know that some people enjoy the kind of sex that leaves bruises, scrapes, and welts. Others enjoys the soft, tender, slow stuff. Knowing what you prefer, and communicating that with your partner is key, so no unfortunate smacks come your way when you were expecting a kiss.
Have a safe word: This is especially important if your experimentation involves any form of restraint. Safe words are something agreed upon beforehand between parties, and used when someone feels uncomfortable or unsure with a situation. It’s basically an easy out. Apparently this couple did have a safe word, “tweety bird,” but it is unclear if it was ever used.
Women who are vulnerable to sexual exploitation because they’re asleep, medicated, have episodic disabilities, or incapacitated by alcohol now have a legal form of defense with this new ruling, but to prevent ever getting to court, couples should be yakking before they get to mackin’. Former Prime Minister Pierre Elliot Trudeau famously once said, “The State has no place in the bedrooms of the nation.” And he’s right. It’s not up to governments to regulate what we can and cannot do if we’re consenting adults. However, this ruling will ensure that consent is in fact given. Not only will this protect us when we’re most vulnerable, frankly, it will make the sex soooo much better.
Have fun out there, kids. And stick to the prix-fixe menu.