Ask for My Permission and Watch Me Melt: A Compilation of First Kisses and Enthusiastic Consent.
I’m taking a little break from the heavier writing I’ve been doing, to talk about consent for a short while.
It’s been on my mind a lot recently, no surprises there! A few weeks ago I was working at my usual dance venue and overheard a conversation in the girls’ changing rooms that made me really want to touch on the topic in more detail.
I didn’t get involved at the time because to be honest it was the middle of the night and the girls who had begun the debate were the kind of girls you don’t want to get in a heated conversation with at 3 in the morning.
They were talking about their kids and about sexual assault, what counts as sexual assault, and the various incidents coming up in the news lately around consent and sex. Assault is something you come to expect as a dancer. If by assault you mean unsolicited and unwanted sexual touching, which it is.
You experience it in varying degrees on a pretty much weekly basis, from a guy who spanks your ass as you walk past, to a guy trying to shove his fingers in your ass just because you bent over during a dance. It’s not okay, yet it’s not uncommon.
One of the girls said in a rather irritable tone, “Bloody hell! With all this PC bollocks going around at the moment, it really makes me worried about what could happen to my kids! I have a 14-year-old boy at home, and it scares me to think that something as silly and little as him going up to a girl he likes, and kissing her, could be taken and used against him in court! That she could go to her teachers or the police, and say he sexually assaulted her just because he didn’t ask her if he could kiss her!”
Other dancers in the room murmured in agreement, whether because they actually agreed or because it wasn’t worth the argument, and one girl said, “God, I find that really un-sexy, don’t you? I would hate it if a guy asked my permission to kiss me, it would be a right turn-off! I like a man to be a man, take control! ”
Whilst I love the idea of a man taking control as much as the next lady, and can happily say to my partner now that he knows me, “Hey, it would be super fun if sometimes you would just grab me and kiss me like in the movies because it makes me feel like a princess and makes my tummy flutter!” I would not appreciate it if every man who decided he fancied kissing me simply took it upon himself to grab me and latch lips.
It would, in fact, most likely for him end with a bloody tongue and a bruised ego, if not worse.
The first time I was ever kissed, I was 13, and the boy doing the kissing was 15.
He had never kissed a girl before and was very nervous, and I had never been kissed but had watched a lot of chick flicks and had high expectations. I’m not sure I even particularly liked the boy, but I felt like I should like someone and I was determined to be kissed.
So when he nervously stated his desire to kiss me, I replied just as nervously, “I wouldn’t mind that,” and we went about the awkward wet-sock-in-a-washing-machine experience that is most people’s first kisses. Nevertheless, I appreciated his asking (well done to his parents, and I hope he has kept up the good work into his adult years!).
The thing with being asked for permission is that if it is something you would like to happen, it builds anticipation, excitement and curiosity. Being taken by surprise, and grabbed in the kitchen to be kissed so thoroughly that renders me dizzy and breathless, is fun. Having my throat held, my hair stroked, being looked in the eyes and taunted with the possibility of a breathtaking kiss; that is something else.
It is the difference between taking and asking. Both have their place, but only later on. When you know someone well, you can play at taking, whether you are stealing a chip from their plate over dinner, eating the last of the ice cream without telling them, or sneaking into the shower unnoticed to steal steamy kisses and help wash their hair.
Notice not one of these are things you would do with someone you didn’t know well?
I remember a guy I was dating a little before I met my fiancé.
We only went on two dates, it became apparent quickly that whist we got on well, my being an exotic dancer would be too much for him to cope with. But when he was dropping me home after our first date, we sat in his car for a little while chatting and flirting and he seemed undecided about something, so I asked him what it was. He started to say, “I would really like to kiss you, but I’m not sure if…”
I cut him off in reply, saying playfully, “Well, maybe you should do it then,” and eagerly he did. It was lovely and sweet and full of the possibilities of early dating. And no less sexy for having been asked for.
On the flip side, there was another boy I knew very briefly before I met my partner.
I liked him and we got on well, but at the time I wasn’t interested in dating anyone at all. I had a lot of work and study commitments, and was spending some time getting to know myself as a single woman and learning what made me tick as a person as opposed to a girlfriend. I made it very clear that I was not interested in dating, was not interested in him, but enjoyed his company and would like to be friends.
He asked me if I wanted to go to see a movie one evening and I agreed on the premise that we split the bill. He bought the tickets in advance anyway, so I bought us coffee and popcorn to even things out. We had a wonderful time and enjoyed the film, and afterwards, despite my having been crystal clear that it wasn’t a date, and crystal clear that I wasn’t interested in him romantically, he went in for a kiss.
I awkwardly leaned back in much the same way a cat will melt away from your hand if it doesn’t want to be stroked, stuttering, “Whoa, whoa, whoa, nope. No, thank you!” so he apologized (good) and after an uncomfortable exchange of goodbyes, we parted ways, and yes, you guessed it, that friendship did not last.
My first kiss with my fiancé I remember very well.
Our first date was at a sushi bar. I had been casually dating for a while and hadn’t had much luck because every guy I dated had issues with my lap-dancing, and my independence was more important to me than any fling.
So getting ready for the date, I layered on deep burgundy lipstick, determined there would be no kiss. I didn’t even wash the dress I wore before I put it on, I just sprayed some more perfume on top because I was really honestly done with dating. I had even thought about canceling last minute just so I didn’t have to bother with a bra that day, but something about him made me go.
There was a pull there I just couldn’t put my finger on.
As soon as I saw him catch my eye and stand up to greet me at the bar, the sparks started flying, the conversation was addictive, and we couldn’t keep our eyes off each other. I wanted to know everything about him all at once, and he seemed the same with me. After a while, I caught him looking at me in a strange contemplative way, and I suddenly felt ridiculously shy.
I asked him what it was, and he said, “I don’t know, I was just thinking about how much I really, really want to kiss you right now.” I blushed probably redder than my makeup, and stuttered, “Well, I think that’s really a terrible idea because I have a lot of lipstick on!” and he shook his head with a mock-serious expression and licked his bottom lip a little in that masculine way they do without thinking.
“No, I really think I’m going to have to risk it anyway,” he said, slipped his hand behind my neck, curled his fingers through my hair, and all I could say was, “Oh, okay then,” before he was kissing me. And yes, there was lipstick everywhere — on my chin and my nose and his lips and his nose.
When he was done kissing me, I had to grab a million napkins and praise every goddess in existence that I had brought a compact mirror with me whilst he laughed at me and fixed his own face.
I’m saying all this partly because it is fun to reminisce but mostly because I wish people would get that actually, consent is fucking sexy, getting consent is sexy, asking for it is sexy, giving it is sexy, and having it is damn sexy.
Who doesn’t love being desired and wanted? The role-playing can come at a later date. Or you can tell your new fella-to-be that you like a guy to be more forceful over frappuccinos in Starbucks and be kissed into oblivion against your car in the parking lot an hour later.
I guess I don’t have much to add to the discussion that hasn’t already been said, but can we please just stop teaching our boys that the only option is to consistently be on the hunt? Like, with a little softness, the gazelle will come to you very willingly, the kink can come later.
A first kiss doesn’t have to be forceful to be passionate. If she wants the kiss, she will know before it has started happening to her, trust me. Perhaps for young ones, the act of taking removes the risk of being rejected, and even if they are met with a slap, at least they manned up and got a kiss out of the girl. But if someone wants to be kissed, you will easily find out by asking.
There’s no need to be timid, you can be confident and take control and still ask. The bottom line is, if you are desired, a request for enthusiastic consent won’t wet the coals or cool the flame, and if you aren’t, it will save you from hurting someone else or yourself both emotionally and physically. No one likes physical affection forced on them. The idea that a first kiss should be forceful is, in my executive opinion, bollocks!
And here’s a little secret… the hottest sexual encounters of my life have all had one thing in common: they began with enthusiastic consent.
Esther De La Ford is a fully qualified Clinical Hypnotherapist, Life Coach and Doula, and qualified at practitioner level in Stress Resilience training, Reiki and Seichem, and EFT (Emotional Freedom Technique). She uses these tools, along with the knowledge she gained from her career as a lap-dancer, to create writing that introduces the idea that every woman has all the tools they need to begin their healing work already within themselves. Her deepest wish is for every woman to have the strength to step back into their power, to re-learn how to trust in their bodies and the deep-knowing we call intuition, and to know the full extent of everything they deserve and everything they can be. Her core philosophy, and what fuels her writing and her work, is that a woman empowered has the ability to empower others and so a woman standing in her power has the power to change the world. You could contact Esther via Facebook or Instagram.