Let’s talk a bit about ambiguous consent, and the double standard we have in our society toward sex, verses other social contracts. In no other area are we so comfortable in saying that ambiguous consent is “good enough” for sex, or whatever else may be implied. It’s basically like this: a person is going to a party, they begin talking to the host about how much they like host’s TV and ask if they can have it, but the host, for whatever reason, doesn’t make it clear if they can have the TV, only giving an ambiguous answer. Since there was no clear communication of “no, you can’t have my TV” then it must be safe to assume the host was saying yes.
“Hell, no,” you’re probably saying, and good! That person who went to the party stole that TV from the host, yet why then do we say ambiguous consent is okay when it comes to sex? People will jump in and say “well, some people play hard-to-get,” or “non-verbal communication isn’t clear communication, so it’s ambiguous.” I have some hard stances in this area, particularly since in every other area dealing with contracts the law and cultural understanding is clear*. If someone is playing hard-to-get, and there isn’t some sort of clear communication that they are doing it, then you should assume that they are saying “no.” They are not giving clear consent, so any respectable person should not have sex with them until they give that clear consent. And, if your non-verbal communication isn’t clear, you’re doing it wrong. If you’re hot and bothered, and so is you partner, and there is a lot of reciprocal grabbing of body parts, particularly genitals, you’re almost certainly safe to go forward. But, if one partner is not reciprocating, particularly if they are laying still, not moving, or if they look like they are uncomfortable or scared, that’s when you stop and ask for consent directly.
Or better yet you just ask for consent right at the beginning, and then keep asking as you’re going along and trying out new things. Plus, this can be really hot, so honestly there is no downside, unless you actually do want to rape people. But, if you’re going about fulfilling that particular desire, you should be going to jail for what should be obvious reasons.
*Take business as another example, you can’t take over a business just because someone said it might be a good idea. That sort of thing need clear and written consent of both parties. I’m not saying you need written consent to have sex like with legal contracts, but you need clear affirmative consent like you would with other social contracts.