Consent is a road map to a great sex life
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Consent is a road map to a great sex life

It's 2am on Saturday and my date is sitting on the edge of my bed. Our recently-shed clothes are twisted up on the floor in an obscene heap; hopefully a metaphor for what’s to come…

Consent should enhance your sexual experience.

Consent should enhance your sexual experience.Credit:Stocksy

“Let me get this straight,” he says, “If I say ‘green’ it means I’m enjoying myself. If I say ‘orange’ it means that I’m ok, but something needs to change...”

“…and then we figure that out.” I add. “Okay. And if I say ‘red’ everything stops.”

“That’s right.” I lean in close. “Are we green?” I ask. “I think it’s a hard green,” he says.

To be clear, we’re not talking about road rules; we’re talking about sexual consent.

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Consent is a tense topic nowadays. The #metoo movement has caused many men to re-think their sexual interactions, and the Law Reform Commission’s review of NSW's sexual consent law has put some conservatives into a flap. Joe Hildebrand, in particular, responds with outrage to the idea of requiring explicit consent. Such legal niceties could take days,” he wrote in the Daily Telegraph.

Not in my bedroom, Joe.

The debate is heartening; it feels as though we’re gradually normalising the idea of practising consent. But while discussion is useful, there’s a difference between concept and practice. When I start swiping on Tinder on a Friday night, I’m not thinking, "How can I put the latest developments in consent to good use in my social interactions?" I’m thinking, "Am I going to get laid? And will it be any good?"

If you try it out you’ll discover, as I did, that consent is a bedroom game-changer; and it’s less awkward than you might imagine. Consent is essential for stopping sexual assault, and it’s also an incredible tool for having better sex.

In 2016 I attended a consent workshop during which I learned to use “green", “orange”, and “red”. Those three words, known as “traffic light safe words”, transformed my life, both as a sex worker and a weekend pleasure-seeker.

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“Green” demonstrates enthusiastic consent before and during sexual activity. "Orange" addresses problems quickly and is much less awkward than, “Can you not bend my leg that way? I think it might get stuck.” And then there’s “red”, an unequivocal “no” usable by anyone involved. Although the purpose of “red” is to halt unwanted sexual activity, it’s also handy in consensual situations: medical issues, unexpected freak-outs, remembering you left the stove on… in these scenarios, “red” puts the brakes on, fast.

Being a good lover involves ongoing learning. Everyone’s different, so we’re kept guessing – even after seven years of escorting, I still can’t read minds! By comparison, using “green”, “orange”, and “red” puts me on a direct route to satisfying my partners. I’ve used traffic light safe words with vulnerable clients, such as those with a disability, and I’ve taught it to lovers, so they can ensure my ongoing agreement.

It isn’t fool-proof – consent only works when we respect our partners’ boundaries. But for those who worry about getting it right, traffic light safe words remove much of the uncertainty that is often inherent in a sexual encounter.

Nobody gets it perfect immediately – doing things differently takes practice. But that’s sex, right? We’re working it out as we go, and that can feel awkward. When I’m anxious about knowing what my partner wants, I’d rather take the easy way out: let them tell me directly.

Whether with a client, a lover, or a Friday night Tinder hook-up, consent allows me to travel further with confidence – which, in turn, leads to incredible sex. Buckle up, it’s a wild ride…