Having Sex when You Don't want Sex

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My body floated into the bedroom in a cream baby-doll nightie. I  found it hanging on the “nicer items” rack in a thrift store. It was Oscar De la Renta and still had the tags on. After buying it, I stood in front of a mirror, admiring the billowy layers of fabric that curved my ass in a heart shape.

I crawled over Ned to get into bed, he groaned, punctured by a knee or elbow. I wasn’t feeling particularly turned on. His hands felt my neck and chest, lukewarm. But, it was awhile since we had sex. At least a week. And it had been a long time since he’d come onto me. I wanted him to know that I was available, it was okay. I pulled him on top of me. I moaned when his cock entered me.

A few months ago, I wrote a  post about having sex when you don’t want to, because you can’t say no, are too drunk to make a decision or  “it seems easier.” I didn’t call this rape, but said these were gray-areas of consent. “Consent is not the opposite of rape” I said, “enthusiastic consent is.”

I’d urged Ned to come by waving my hips and saying I wanted him to cum, I wasn’t ” into” the sex, but it felt okay. I had made an executive decision. I’d evaluated my feelings. I looked at Ned, and took the emotions lined on his face, into consideration. When I pulled him over me, there was a feeling of warmth in my chest.

The next morning  when I woke up Ned was doing dishes. This is because I set my alarm for 7:00–when Ned always does the dishes. Then I come in and say “hey”  and if  we had sex the night before, one of us will casually mention it. I still felt good about the sex, but weird about saying something. I recounted it my head. I decided the sex was okay but I didn’t want Ned to guess I’d had sex just to make him feel nice.

I’d been reading Why Women Have Sex, which contained interviews with women over a range of ages. Many women reported having sex when they didn’t want to. Some said they’d had sex with their husbands in order to get them to do chores. Another said she’d had sex with a man because he bought her a car. Some women said they felt like it was their “duty”. The book drew a line between these instances and gray-rapes, which others reported and often felt bad about.

I felt uncomfortable reading some of  the accounts. I thought of my high-school boyfriend. He wasn’t in high-school, he was 23 or 24. We went out for 3 1/2 years and in the beginning, had sex 3 or 4 times when we’d see each other. Sometimes I’d bring costumes and he’d snap Polaroids of me: on all-fours in cat ears and a fluffy tailed pinned to my G-string; smiling in a  school girl skirt and tie. Those Polaroids still exist somewhere. Probably.

Later, there were no costumes but still sex. We’d hang out, watching a DVD at his apartment. I remember, facing the light of the television, sometimes not even watching, but waiting for a hip thrust in my ass. I wouldn’t turn around. I let him enter me and close my eyes, waiting for it to be over. I don’t remember enthusiasm in my yes.

Sometimes, we have sex, not turned on at first and catch up in a panting breath later. I think it is important to remember that in sex there is not a “point of no return.” With Ned, I understand that stopping at any point is okay. But I also know doing this, takes strength in communication with yourself and your partner.

This morning, I woke up before my alarm. The curtains were still drawn, lighting the room in red. I went to find Ned at the sink and enveloped myself around his waist. “The sex we had last night was kind of weird” he said, a playful-concerned look on his face.

As we crawled into bed the night before, he rolled over to sleep. I caressed the ample curve of his ass. He gave a sleepy-happy sigh and muttered that it felt nice. His eyes stayed closed, his body limp and tired as he turned over, visibly hard. I raised my hips and he nodded, grabbing a leg to help straddle him. I slid onto his body and put my hands over his closed eyelids as he drifted, blurred between soft moans and half sleep.

My eyes flashed question marks, a concerned hand on the sink. Ned laughed. I trusted his responsibility for communicating a lack of consent. But as his partner, knew I should be aware of his enthusiasm. But in this space, able to talk about it over toast, we were safe. Safe to explore our emotions in the moment, and if it felt raw, to go over them again. Enthusiastic sex each time is not a given. “Purposeful sexuality” I thought. That was it.

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