Wow, a blog about class! :-)
Last week, my professor asked us to answer how we knew the other person was consenting to sex. And ive been pondering this now ever since.
Ive realized that 1) I am a very self centered person, most of the thoughts that go through my head are about me, and how others interaction with me. And 2) I know when I am consenting, thus other should know when they are consenting, and say something if it is not going as they planned.
But, I also tend to place a lot of responsibility onto other people. If you dont like something? Say something. Dont like your food at a restaurant? Send it back! Want your partner to do something for you? Ask! Dont like how the sexual encounter is going? Say something. People are not mind readers!
We seem to have this unspoken expectation that "others" should know what we want. The Usual Error is that we think other people should think like us. (Actually, my mom pointed out that Ive always had this viewpoint, even as a very small child.) The issue is that some take the idea that because our partners *do not* read our minds, that something is doomed in that relationship or sexual encounter.
To get back to consent, I think its an internal process, rather than one that everyone has to buy into equally and all times. Instead of accepting the idea of ambiguity, one decides what they are willing to do, and/or what is needed for one to enjoy that act. For example, I feel perfectly comfortable saying "While I wouldnt ask for it, X, Y and Z are things that I would be okay with if my partner asked for them." But, ive done enough thinking about my self to know that. I also trust that my partner has gone though a similar thought process, and would not be going along with however the encounter is going if they were not comfortable with the situation.
Sex is about communicating with the people involved for a mutually agreeable encounter. If one partner doesnt want it, its not any fun, however, I do think that it is up to the partner that does not want it to make it clear.
(This does not apply in the instance of coercion, in any of its many forms.)