Consent is Sexy

Writer Beth Bernobich started this, after hearing complaints that it’s somehow unsexy to seek or confirm consent during sex (or during fictional sex). So far she and Martha Wells have posted examples of sex scenes showing clear consent, so I figured I’d join in. Three posts make a meme, and all that.

This one’s probably familiar to many of you; it’s from The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms. Consent was an ongoing theme of the relationship between Yeine and the god Nahadoth, in part because Nahadoth actually can’t do anything to her without her consent, and in part because Yeine is effectively a master to Nahadoth’s slave and there can be no true consent in such situations. She could command him to do what she wants, although the results would likely be less than optimal. Nahadoth has managed to win a modicum of power for himself despite his enslavement by deliberately twisting the meaning of consent; he entices potential lovers to give him permission or bad commands, and he uses that to kill them. Yeine knows this, but she hopes — she believes, and belief is power when you’re dealing with gods and magic — that he won’t kill her. The consent that needs to be given in this case is multilayered.

Warning for sexiness!

“No, little pawn.” I tried to concentrate on his words while his hand continued its slow journey up my arm, but it was difficult. I am only human. “It is Itempas’ way to force his will upon others. I have always preferred… willing sacrifices.”

He drew one fingertip along my collarbone now, and I nearly moved away because it felt almost unbearably good. I did not because I had seen his teeth. One did not run from a predator.

“I… I knew you would say yes.” My voice shook. I was babbling. “I don’t know how, but I knew. I knew…” That I was more than a pawn to you. But no, that part I could not say.

“I must be what I am.” He said it as if the words made sense. “Now. Are you asking?”

I licked my lips, hungry. “Not to die. But — for you. Yes. I’m asking for you.”

“To have me is to die.” He warned me even as he grazed my breast with the backs of his fingers. The knuckles caught on my already-taut nipple and I could not help gasping. The room got darker.

But one thought pushed up through the desire. It was the thought that had motivated me to do this mad thing, because in spite of everything I was not suicidal. I wanted to live for whatever pittance of time I had left. In the same way I hated the Arameri, yet I sought to understand them; I wanted to prevent a second Gods’ War, yet I also wanted the Enefadeh freed. I wanted so many things, each of them contradictory, all of them together impossible. I wanted them anyway. Perhaps Sieh’s childishness had infected me.

“Once you took many mortal lovers,” I said. My voice was more breathy than it should have been. He leaned close to me and inhaled, as if scenting it. “Once you claimed them by the dozen, and they all lived to tell the tale.”

“That was before centuries of human hatred made me a monster,” said the Nightlord, and for a moment his voice was sad. I had called him a monster myself, but it felt strange and wrong to hear him say it. “Before my brother stole whatever tenderness there once was in my soul.”

And just like that, my fear faded.

“No,” I said.

His hand paused. I reached up and caught it, my fingers tangling in his.

“Your tenderness isn’t gone, Nahadoth. I’ve seen it. I’ve tasted it.” I pulled his hand up, up, to touch my lips. I felt his fingers twitch, as if in surprise. “You’re right about me; if I must die, I want to die on my own terms. There are so many things I will never do — but this I can have. You.” I kissed his fingers. “Will you show me that tenderness again, Nightlord? Please?”

From the corner of my eye I saw movement. When I turned my head there were black lines, curling and random, etching their way along the walls, the windows, the floor. The lines flowed out from Nahadoth’s feet, spreading, overlapping. I caught a glimpse of strange airy depths within the lines; a suggestion of drifting mist and deep, endless chasms. He let out a low, soughing breath, and it curled around my tongue.

“I need so much,” he whispered. “It has been so long since I shared that part of myself, Yeine. I hunger — I always hunger. I devour myself with hunger. But Itempas has betrayed me, and you are not Enefa, and I… I am… afraid.”

Tears stung my eyes. Reaching up, I cupped his face in my hands and pulled him down to me. His lips were cool, and this time they tasted of salt. I thought I felt him shiver. “I will give you all I can,” I said when we parted.

He pressed his forehead against mine; he was breathing hard. “You must say the words. I will try to be what I was, I will try, but — ” He groaned softly, desperate. “Say the words!”

I closed my eyes. How many of my Arameri ancestors had said these words and died? I smiled. Perhaps I would join them. It would be a death befitting a Darre, if so.

“Do with me as you please, Nightlord,” I whispered.

Authors! Do you have sexy consent scene to post?

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11 Responses »

  1. I’ve put up one of mine, from a piece I’m working on now. http://j-cheney.livejournal.com/559209.html

    Thanks for doing this!

  2. That’s a wonderful scene.

  3. Sigh. I had just gotten over this scene, since, after finishing the book, I found myself repeatedly returning to it — and not merely for the sexy sexiness.

    But, to the purpose of your post, it is an excellent example for this new meme.

  4. I have a consensual scene that I wrote not too long after this was posted, so I thought I’d share:

    http://irkdesu.tumblr.com/post/38761820786/a-very-special-hot-peacock-king-snippet

    It’s still in need of editing since it’s the second draft. The consent is notable for this scene especially, because in the first version written a couple of years ago, this pair’s first sex scene wasn’t consensual. (A lot changed between revisions, and I rethought what I had done there.)

  5. I have no sexy consent scene of my own to post, but I must comment….I just finished reading this trilogy within three days (yes, that means pretty much every waking moment has been devoted to reading it, though I did stop to do dishes and go out for dinner). I have also gone back to this scene a few times for a re-read. Why? Dear gods, this is a very sexy scene. The whole “say the words!” is what broke me. That, and what followed…

  6. I love that you have included this in your novels. I am a young man. I’ve had sex with plenty of women, and because of a past traumatic experience I find it very important that women consent to love making, and especially my occasional sadism. Unfortunately, sometimes the woman, even if she is ‘willing’ will say no, because she wants me to… pressure her into it. That is sadly part of the excitement, but I can’t do that. In all honesty most of my past relationships have failed because of this insistence. Older women in my experience appreciate the question and the care,- at least initially, but quickly become jaded to the experience. Most young women find that the questions kills the mood. Nonetheless, I hope one day consent can be sexy. That young men and women can talk seriously about their unexpressed desires, and act responsibly with each others bodies even if they have to ask for permission first.

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