Consent and communication are absolutely essential for good partnered sex. This idea is thrown around a lot in sex ed circles, and it makes perfect sense. Of course the best sex you can have involves a partner who respects your bodily autonomy, wants you to be satisfied, and is willing to learn exactly how to get you there. So why is this so hard for a lot of us in practice?
I think there are a lot of factors, but one in particular stands out to me: our cultural narrative about who deserves pleasure. Especially within straight cisgender pairings, there’s a lot of conditioning at play, in which men’s pleasure is centered and women’s pleasure is devalued. Sex is framed as something that women “give” and men “take,” a central tenet of rape culture. Within this dynamic, there’s no room for honest conversation about what makes us feel good.
I know so many people socialized as female, myself included, who were sexually active for years before they learned that they were meant to derive pleasure from sex. How many more never learn at all? When we collectively internalize insidious patriarchal messaging, most of us, regardless of gender, tend to grow up not knowing or caring that women deserve pleasure.
It’s impossible to communicate your desires (or boundaries, for that matter) to a sexual partner if it’s never occurred to you that you can have them. But even if someone does feel inclined to speak up, there are even more toxic narratives that can hold them back. The belief that talking about what you want is “unsexy” or “kills the mystery” is as erroneous as it is widespread. This idea exists to keep us collectively silenced and confused, and cut off from knowing our bodies.
Leading By Example at the Crash Pad
Crash Pad Series is the first sexually explicit content, real or simulated, I’ve ever consumed in which the actors/characters communicate openly about what they want to experience, including via ongoing consent. The latter is important because that first “yes,” no matter how enthusiastic, is not a blanket approval for any and all sexual acts. For example, if your partner has consented to being penetrated vaginally, you definitely need to check in again before trying to penetrate them anally. And while you’re at it, make sure you’re using enough lube for their liking.
Selphie Labrys does an amazing job directing the dialogue in her scene with Aviva Romelli. When Aviva wants Selphie’s fingers inside her, Selphie asks how many. While inserting a butt plug a little bit later, Selphie reminds Aviva that she’s completely in control by laying out exactly what she plans to do: “I’m gonna go in slow, let me know if you need me to pull it out. Need more lube?”
It’s so easy and considerate to verify your partner’s comfort. I love the part when Aviva asks Selphie if she needs a break after fucking Aviva with a strap-on for a little while. That can get super exhausting, people! Always check in on your top!
In this episode, toy connoisseur Vivi Marie is introducing Olivia Woods to her Original Magic Wand vibrator (of which blogger Fairy Cakes is a big fan). Since Olivia hasn’t used this toy before, Vivi carefully observes how their body responds to it and checks in. “Wow, I’m getting such a good reaction on the first try!” Instead of resting on the assumption, Vivi follows up immediately with, ”You like that?” That’s a great habit to get into; just because your partner is moaning doesn’t mean they definitely love what’s happening.
There’s a great moment when Vivi is fingering Olivia externally and then says, “Mind if I put my fingers inside you?” YES. Just because your hand is right there doesn’t mean that your partner is necessarily ready for insertion. Maybe they need a little more time to warm up, or maybe they don’t want to be penetrated at all. The only way to know is by asking.
Not all communication is spoken. When you stay in the moment with your partner, you can interpret non-verbal cues much more easily. In Episode 154 with Tina Horn and Andre Shakti, no one utters a word until about ten minutes in! And yet, the communication is spot-on.
The performers exchange information through head nods, eye contact, and facial expressions. At one point, by merely locks eyes with Andre and raising an eyebrow, Tina seeks permission to touch Andre through her underwear. You can see Tina reading Andre’s body language like a book and using that information to determine speed, pressure, and other variables while she’s fisting her.
At the point past which Andre is able to speak, she can communicate by putting Tina’s hand exactly where she wants it, in this case around her throat. This is a great tip for folks who may feel a little tongue-tied in the moment, for one reason or another.
Real World Impact
Communication can continue even after everyone’s pulse has returned to resting rate. Aftercare isn’t just for kink. Does your partner need water? Do you want to be held? Maybe you can each talk about your favorite part of the experience. That way, if there’s a next time, you can spend more time doing that thing. Just treat your partner like a person!
Seeing good sexual communication on screen is a very big deal. By normalizing these practices (not just in erotic content, but in movies and TV shows as well), we encourage viewers to adopt them in their private lives. The ripple effect from this could be profound, helping to close the gendered pleasure/orgasm gap, and minimizing the extent to which we inflict trauma on each other. At the end of the day, it’s all about bodily safety and autonomy. What’s more important than that?