As a gay cis man (cis or cisgender is a term for people whose gender identity matches the sex they were assigned at birth based on their genitalia) the question of consent is uncomfortable, there were moments I didn’t wait for consent or felt afterwards that maybe I went too far, not knowing how to apologise. I have also been in the other side, having sex and one second before or later feeling my body being abused, leaving me confused and only years later understanding that I didn’t want this, so why did it happen to me?

Like in GayLoveSpirit and many other places there are many workshops and lots of attention around the concept of consent. Rather simple thing one must say, just ask: Would you like to…? Do you like it? Would you like to go on? Relying on nonverbal communication turns out to be limited, confusing, so we preach for verbal communication. We don’t trust our body not to freeze.

In the juridical world it has been accepted that physical touch can cause a person to show all the symptoms of being excited, erection and orgasm in the case of cis men. But that doesn’t mean that they wanted it, that they liked it, or that it was consented. This was an important step in the struggle of victims of sexual assault, to give them some more tools to fight, be respected and help all of us not to live in a rape culture.

But things are much more complicated in the imperfect world we are living in, many people with a past of abuse coming to realize that they look for more abusive encounters and say yes non verbally and verbally. Afterwards they feel relieved and abused. Strange combination one would say. There are many explanations in the literature; one of them suggest that our brain like to go back to the familiar and saying no will bring uncertainty and create conflict, therefore, going back to the pain makes the afterwards a relief. There are other theories that put emphasis on the fear of rejection, making us do whatever it takes to please, but I am not a psychologist. My point is that in many cases people communicate yes instead of no.

I worked with a client that wishes to go back and enjoy intimacy. My sensual touch would excite him, he shook, he moaned, he had an erection, but at the same time he would finish the session feeling confused. With all my experience and although I asked several times, the “Yes” came out of his mouth and in the end, right after, a week later the NO was there… a bit late, but he was able to find it and communicate it.

Slowly he’s learning to recognize the NO and his body learns not to just please the other, his mind learns to enjoy the pleasures of the body without guilt and let the mind make sensible decisions as to into which situations to enter and what are the limits of his body and mind, creating a balance between the two…

In the workshops we give in GayLoveSpirit we ask people to challenge themselves to leave their comfort zone, this place where we feel secure and natural, the trauma zone is the place where we get hurt, crossing our borders and abusing our body, the challenge zone is where you grow and get to know new things, it’s scary and hard at first but your mind can predict some pleasure or at least satisfying curiosity- this is the space of growth. This means many times, to let the body lead the way, experience new things, not returning to the traumas. But in this client example, the trauma and abuse were in the comfort zone. That makes our work harder and dangerous.

In corporal therapy we believe that the body and mind can work together. However, in my view, we live in a society that gives the mind a supreme place (Did you see any contemporary art that is not accompanied by an extensive text? Dance, plastic or any other). The body has been silenced for a long time now, we all spend more and more time in front of the screen, even sports are sometimes about exploiting the body’s limits more than listening to it and working with it. At the same time, more and more people are looking for ways to work with the body, listen to their body and heal the scars that the mind sealed and forgot (this is a whole new article).

Evidently, rape culture is as strong as mankind, religions and laws didn’t seem to combat this issue and in some way are part of the problem (people with power tend to exploit it). In the XXI century, it seems like there is a special effort coming from down up (leaders from all parties are being watched closely), people want to see change, although they are part of the problem. We live in a rape culture because we are all part of it and there are many reasons for that, patriarchy is one, but I want to focus on a more silent one, the one that has got to do with the imbalance between the body and the mind. Where exactly is the problem? Can’t a man’s mind accept a no? Can’t their physical ears hear the NO? Can’t their body and mind read the signs, connect and understand when to stop?

This is end of part one. Stay tuned in the next days for the second and last part!

Edit: You can now read part two by clicking here.