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Welcome to #AskCam, a column where sex and intersectionality are not divided but welcomed together.

  Dear Cam, How exactly do I address consent in casual relationship settings? If I'm in a longer-standing relationship, I'm not embarrassed or ashamed to talk about literally any topic....but if I go on one date with someone and I'm not vibing them then they kiss me or grope me or touch me in some way that my body is adverse, I get uncomfortable and can't find the words to defend myself in the moment. Sometimes it's because I shut down, other times I just prefer the out that I can ghost them and use that as a way to avoid the in-person confrontation. If I don't know the person at all, I'm fine. You creep on me at the bar or catcall me I'm telling you to your face to not sexually harass me, but it's this weird in between where I almost feel a sense of either guilt, or obligation, or fear that clouds my ability to speak out. -Casual Consent   Dear Casual Consent, I think your question is an increasingly important one. There's so much conversation lately about the ways that desirability, consent, and autonomy spill over into our everyday (*ahem* sexual) lives, and I think that we don't really allow much space for navigating these things in ways that are free of confusion and awkwardness. When I first read your letter, I immediately thought that this wasn't so much a question of consent itself – you already seem to have a firm grasp on that – to me, your question speaks more about boundaries. Boundaries are a tricky thing in itself – for women and people who have been conditioned and socialized as femme folks, we've been brought up with this idea that other people's needs should come before our own. Empathy and compassion for others are admirable traits, but because conversations about autonomy and boundaries weren't accompanied, the message that most of us received was that what we want and need aren't as important as our partner's wants and needs, whether they identify as cis-het men or not.
Related: HOW SEXUALITY IS CRUCIAL FOR INTERSECTIONALITY: AN INTRODUCTION

Removing the condom changes the context in which you consented to sexual intercourse. If that context changes, it is imperative that consent is reaffirmed.

By Roslyn Talusan
Content Warning/Trigger Warning: This article outlines details of my own sexual assault and may be disturbing to some readers. Last month, Columbia Journal of Gender and Law published a study on “stealthing.” This is when one’s sexual partner removes the condom without their knowledge, and continues the sexual encounter without re-confirming consent. The study discusses perspectives from victims of “stealthing.” Alexandra Brodsky, the author of the study, identified two common issues across the victims’ stories – the risk of STIs and unwanted pregnancy, and that having the condom removed was clearly a violation of their autonomy. Despite that they clearly did not consent to penetration without a condom, the survivors were reluctant and hesitant to outright call this rape, instead labelling it “rape-adjacent.” A couple of years ago, I was raped by an acquaintance who wasn't wearing a condom. When we moved to the back of his car to have sex, I asked if he had a condom – he didn’t seem to want to wear one, so I told him that I wasn’t comfortable having sex without it. I’ve always been conscious of STIs and unwanted pregnancy, so I was not okay with having unprotected sex with someone I had only known for a few weeks. He found a condom, put it on, and we fucked. Halfway through, he took the condom off because he had lost his erection. He asked me if I would go down on him, and he didn’t understand why I asked him to get another condom. He didn’t have another one. I explained STIs and unwanted pregnancy again. “Well you can’t just tease me like that,” he said, “just a little kiss.” He picked me up, put me on my back, and got on top of me.
Related: WHY I’M DONE TRYING TO GET YOU TO HELP FIGHT RAPE CULTURE

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