Sex. And Consent. And the Flutter of Hearts.

[Content Note: Hostility to consent.]

In case you're not on Twitter, or just happened to miss it, I spent part of this afternoon tweeting responses to this gross article in Elle in which the author makes the (yawningly familiar) argument that talking about sex during sex is killing passion blah blah fart.

Here is a Storify of my tweets, about the importance of talking about sex and the centering of consent, for both a safe and fulfilling sex life.

(If, of course, you are a person who is even interested in being sexually active with another person.)

I hate pretty much every single thing about that article, but this passage in particular just makes my teeth fucking grind:
All great love stories have a moment when the protagonists abandon the codified rigidities of language for the fluent river of sensuality. Take Dante's famous lovers, Paolo and Francesca, as captured perhaps most concisely in a sonnet by Edna St. Vincent Millay: Studying literature together one long afternoon, one of the two smitten scholars—till recently an awkward jumble of elbows and explanations—"lets fall the coloured book upon the floor." Or as Dante put it: "That day they read no more."

In our safety-checked and responsible culture, in our endlessly chattering, texting, blogging, brownnosing, apologizing, analyzing, verbalizing culture, eroticism may be the last frontier we can explore intuitively. Like dance, sexuality is at once preverbal and transverbal: It predates the word and outstrips it. To pin it down with questions and formulas is like pinning a butterfly to a wall. You can see it better there, but it no longer flutters. And neither, in all likelihood, does your heart.
Oh, do shut up.

Clearly, I'm biased, but I think Iain and I have a pretty great love story. (It's great as far as I'm concerned, in any case.) I fell in love with him over exchanged words. I loved him before I ever saw what he looked like. Language has been the centerpiece of our relationship since the day it started—and we still write each other love letters, fourteen years later.

We talk about sex during sex. We talk about sex before and after sex. Before—what we want to do. After—what felt so fucking good. During: We look deeply into each other's eyes and ask, Do you want me to do this thing to you?, and we wait for the breathless and urgent reply: Yes. Yes.

(Or, occasionally, no. Which simply leads us elsewhere.)

My heart still flutters. It flutters every time he walks in the door, every time we kiss. Because we use language to build a fortress of intimacy inside which we are both safe, and thus both free to explore. Ourselves and each other.

I understand, I do, why it might seem to any person socialized inside a rape culture that sex can only be exhilarating when it happens under the ever-present threat of being hurt, of something—or someone—going too far. That anything else is just a butterfly pinned to a wall.

But that's only because it's the only construct we're taught, the only model we're shown.

I am a person with a partner who has built something different with me. And, in my experience, there is naught that casts aside every last remnant of inhibition like profound trust.

Nothing is more exhilarating than that.

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