In this era of relationships, what you say online is just as important as what is said face to face. And what you do face to face relies a lot of what you both have to say!
You can hardly have a modern relationship without encountering Tinder, online dating, and people sliding into your DM’s. This brings me to my controversial topic of today: sexting, and sexual relationships.
There is nothing inherently wrong with sexting, nor having a sexual relationship. Just as your parents, and their parents would send each other emails, or letters professing their love, and probably their sexual desires, our phones just have enabled us to send the juicy details quicker, and in higher resolution.
With a quick pic, a couple of words, and a healthy dose of adjectives, a text can take a dreamy conversation into a steamy one. If consensual, sexting is an exhilarating way to keep the spark in a long term, or long distance relationship, or slowly fan the flames to a budding romance.
Same goes with sexual relationships in general. Having a sexual relationship with another consenting adult is a perfectly normal, and a healthy thing to have. Sexual relationships can be an avenue to explore fetishes, fantasies, nooks, and crannies. Not only do we need sexual relationships to occur for the purpose of procreation, it also is an act of bonding with another (or more than another if that tickles your fancy).
What does sexting, and sexual relationships always need to have? Consent. Not just consent at the beginning to instigate the action, but ongoing consent to ensure what is happening is still okay for all parties involved.
Even seven years into my relationship with my fiancé, consent is still something we practise. Why? When you respect, and love someone, you take into account how you both want to spend your time together. You want both of you to feel the same euphoria from each encounter, and have every message, every embrace, and every touch to make you both happy. That requires you both to feel safe in what you are doing, and to trust the other.
We started our relationship when we were fifteen years old. We were young, in love, and full of raging teenage hormones, and regularly encountering sexualised imagery throughout media. We both went to Catholic schools, went to church, hung out with people from within, and outside the religious community. Do you know what was common amongst both groups when it came to relationships?
The need for consent.
Even if you don’t have sex with them, or go to third base, or second base, or even kiss, and even if it’s just a message from screen to screen, consent is is essential.
There can be no respect in sexting, or sexual relationships without consent. There can be no love in sexting, or sexual relationships without consent. There cannot be enjoyment for both parties when you sext, or have a sexual relationship without consent.
Without consent, someone sexting another is sexual harassment. Without consent, forcing someone to have sex is rape.
There is no excusing the behaviour of someone who sends you inappropriate or sexual messages without your consent, and after you have told them to stop. It’s sexual harassment.
There is no excusing the behaviour of someone who forces themselves onto you, doesn’t ask for your consent, and has sex with you against your will. It’s rape.
To all my readers, whether female or male, you are allowed to sext, and have a sexual relationship with another person. You are allowed to connect, and to feel excitement, and to feel loved. But most importantly, you are allowed to say no.
This post has been sponsored by The Line. The Line is "an initiative under the National Plan to Reduce Violence against Women and their Children 2010 - 2022 and is funded by the Australian Government Department of Social Services [that has been] delivered by Our Watch.".