Rock Star Dinosaur Princess, in addition to having a fantastic name, has also produced a most superb blog post on consent.
Their analogy boils down consent to something as simplistically universal as tea. The writing is a work of art and something my friends and I have readily adopted and quickly perverted, innuendo-ing coffee into anal sex. (Of course!)
What’s been interesting in our conversations on the tea front has been a consideration not just of those offering tea, but of those taking it, looking at tea drinking as a team activity (team bonding anyone?!). To quote my Bearcat…
“The ‘offering tea’ analogy is great. Something subtle in it was that it’s phrased as “would you like tea?” as in “I can offer and give this tea as a nice thing but it’s OK if you don’t want it now“. Another perspective would be from the other side; what if you possess tea, don’t feel comfortable sharing it right now, but the other person is tugging on to your cup demanding it?”
Wise words, ones that had me bursting with adoration for providing the mental image of the ‘sex pest teacup tugger’ and also had me nodding away wholeheartedly in agreement. Indeed, more than sex, this analogy could be expanded to apply to all things that require consent to be given.
Consent is discussed often in terms of all things kink. I applaud the plethora of writings focussed on knowing, applying and communicating your limits, all good and useful. Writings of this ilk often focus on those receiving a kink thing, which makes sense given the potential vulnerability the receiver, for example someone in bondage. There is also an awareness to be raised of those giving a thing. The top that possesses the skills but doesn’t feel comfortable, ready or simply doesn’t want to – and that’s OK. They have to give their consent too.
“Consent takes into account a flow of give and take. So an additional perspective for consent and tea might be to ask yourself if you’re offering your tea, taking the tea of others, or a bit of both?”
Stretching the, frankly genius, analogy because consent isn’t always about physical acts (like sex and kink); consent can be considered in a wider context, in terms of relationships and connections. Indeed in my post on negotiation I encourage consideration and discussion of emotional spaces, both in the moment and on-going.
“If a relationship or interaction comes from a generous place of “here I have tea to offer, would you like to share it with me?” then it’s more likely to be sustainable and mutually giving, loving and trusting. If it comes primarily from a place of “I want tea, you have it, I want you to give it to me!” then it may be less sustainable.
Recognising your own needs is great, driving your actions based primarily on what you can get, not what you can offer or enjoy together, is not.
Worse is when there’s no respect when someone has tea but doesn’t want to give or keep giving, or when there are threatened consequences for withdrawing the tea supply.” Be that the supply of sexy, kinky or relationship flavoured tea from the menu in this analogy shaped tea-room.
Shockingly there have also been reported incidences of tea used as a bargaining tool. “Are you offering more of your own tea so that you feel you have gained a right to ask for more in return? Be generous but demand nothing, they will never be obliged to offer their tea.”
Flight of the Conchords had it right, “A kiss is not a contract” and tea is not a bargaining chip, nor it is something to be extorted from someone, perhaps as a punishment or consequence of making a mistake.
What also surprises me is how concerned people can become with other people’s actions, how bargaining and demanding is common-place in some relationships. I am very aware of the value of my tea and my choice to give it and aim to set expectations from the start on how often and under what circumstances I will be boiling the kettle.
That applies to sex, kink and/or my connection with you.
At risk of taking the analogy a leaf too far, Bearcat urges you to consider
“Are you depending on their tea for your existence?
Will the consequences of them running out of tea, producing a different flavour of tea over time, or just wanting a time out from boiling the kettle strongly adversely affect you?
They still have no obligation to offer tea even if you place the responsibility for your livelihood or your future tea-drinking plans on them.
And remember, if they become scared to withdraw their tea for a while, gradually the flavour becomes bitter and sour.”
In summary, – Your tea drinking and sharing preferences are your own and should be respected. Remember you have consent to give as well as seek. Your tea, your choice.