When I write that I support consenting adults doing anything, that statement of course comes with a few caveats: “anything” should not include acts that harm others, at least without their pre-communicated consent (as in, say, giving a beating in a BDSM setting). This is where the discussion gets complicated, since how do we define “harm”? Is it possible to consent to ostensibly harmful acts, like being punched or whipped as part of a sexual scene? I think it is, but I also think there are coercive situations where consent gets muddled and there are then social pressures to not talk about it in those terms.
In general, though, if you’re an adult who is informed about the circumstances and thus able to give consent, I’m not going to tell you
- Who to date
- Who to have sex with
- How to have sex*
- What props or toys to use (or not use) while having sex with others or yourself
- Whether you should or should not try kink or polyamory
- Whether you should choose to sell sexual acts
I am, however, going to tell you
- To go out of your way to get as much information as possible about the potential risks and benefits of any sexual acts you might try
- To make sure your partner(s) are clear on what you’re planning on doing so that everyone can give informed consent
- To make sure you want what you’re pursuing and that you’re trying it for the “right” reasons (which, admittedly, may not be the same as society’s version of the “right” reasons, but in general, try to identify what it is you want so that you can be authentic to your desires rather than giving in to peer pressure)
I may not be a fan of every sex act or relationship choice out there, but I support your right to choose these things. I try not to fall into the trap of thinking that if I don’t like it, it must be morally repugnant. Because I’m an adventurous person in all areas of my life, I support everyone’s right to try new things and step outside the box, even if those choices are perhaps not the choices I might make.
Basically: don’t have sex with minors, animals, or people incapable of giving consent (whether in a coercive situation or impaired by substance use). That’s it. I really don’t care what you’re doing in the bedroom beyond that, though I’ll defend to the ends of the earth your right to do it.
Need more information on any of this? Check out Scarleteen for a teen-friendly (but applicable to all) approach to sex and relationships, The Pervocracy‘s excellent post How To Have Sex On Purpose, and, of course, our many posts on relationships and sex here at MySexProfessor.com.
*Other than to be aware of the risks involved, such as pregnancy or STI transmission, and to accordingly use protection and/or get tested.