As you may know, I am currently taking a hiatus from booking in-person sessions, in order to attend to some matters in my personal life. While I miss seeing you all and connecting on that level, I know that this is the right choice for the moment and I wanted to share some of the thoughts and insights that I’ve been working through on this journey.
I have long been contemplating writing a post about consent, as there is a particular aspect of how we seek our desires that I have noticed coming up consistently in sessions. I am now seeing how these lessons are showing up in my life in other arenas, and feel like I have put enough of the pieces together to share what I’ve found to be valuable information.
I think most everyone’s basic understanding of consent is yes means go, no means stop. And of course that is essentially true. But it goes so far beyond that as well. The ineffective pattern that I have noticed is this:
Person A has a desire. They may feel vulnerable or self-conscious about it, they may fear rejection, they may be afraid of feeling like they are forcing their desire upon someone else. Let’s use a very neutral example and say Person A would like to ask Person B out for lunch. They may feel afraid of a) acknowledging to themselves and to the other person that they want this, b) being rejected, c) somehow insulting the other person, and/or d) that the other person will say yes even if they don’t actually want to go.
So, they tiptoe around the topic and ask indirect questions: “What are you doing today?” “Did you have any plans for lunch tomorrow?” seeking to feel out the other person, or perhaps gather enough courage to get to the crux of the matter. While these questions may seem like gentle ways to approach the true desire, they often put Person B in a guarded position. Person B can tell that there’s another question underneath these surface queries, but they don’t know what it is or what Person A is really asking for. This makes answering the vague, indirect questions challenging. Person B may in turn respond with evasion, or also seeks to be overly gentle with the other in an attempt to “let them down easy” or even agree to something they don’t actually want because they don’t want to hurt the other’s feelings. The two circle each other, playing this game of emotional hide and seek, until perhaps finally the true question surfaces—and by that time, everyone is so on edge that it may be difficult to respond candidly.
We all feel more honest and forthcoming when we can leave this elaborate charade behind and be more direct. This takes bravery, trust, and a better understanding of how consent can and should work. It can be difficult to disentangle our desires from shame and fear. Sometimes that fear arises from how others may treat us; sometimes it comes from facing and naming our true desires, and the uncertainty of how knowing and accepting ourselves fully may radically change our lives. In short: sometimes we’re afraid of hearing no from others; sometimes we are afraid of hearing yes from ourselves.
So, let’s come back around to how this all works in the context of our dynamic. A large part of my experience in the kink world and work as a dominatrix is recognizing the vast array of fetishes, kinks, proclivities, and desires that people have, and maintaining a nonjudgmental attitude towards them. While I have my own unique stable of kinks, it is not my place to judge the desires of others unless they cause harm or are pursued in underhanded ways. When we enter this space together—when any two people connect in any context—the work is to find where our desires overlap, and explore that section of the Venn diagram. In order to do that, vulnerability and honesty are necessary; I trust you to tell me what it is you really want, and you trust me to respond truthfully within my boundaries. I think practicing this within the confines of a pro-domme space is a wonderful way to exercise these muscles, without the additional layer of emotional/professional/social risk present in our personal relationships.
Many times I hear “I don’t want to offend you.” I appreciate the care and thoughtfulness behind this statement, but I find it to be misplaced. Asking for consent in and of itself is not offensive (as long as the question is phrased respectfully of course); it gives me the opportunity to hear what it is that you want. At that point, when you put that desire out into the space between us, you relinquish your control of the outcome. You acknowledge me as a sovereign being capable of making my own decisions. If you trust me enough to speak your desire, then you must also trust me enough to answer for myself. I will tell you where we overlap, and what I am willing to do. The rest returns to you without judgment or offense. Now we know where everyone stands. If there is enough overlap for us both to want to continue exploring that connection, we do. If our desires and boundaries conflict too much to consider the relationship beneficial, we go our separate ways.
The actions that do cause offense are: expecting me to be a mind reader and perform work that is yours to do, assuming I either will or won’t do something, and/or choosing to ignore a boundary after I have made it clear to you. This includes asking for activities that are on my list of limits (asking for clarification is absolutely fine!) and otherwise demonstrating that you have either not read the information I have made available to you, or have chosen to disregard it.
As with so many things (everything, perhaps?), the lessons we learn on a small level are applicable to the bigger things in our lives as well. I hope you gain something from this entry, and are able to carry these lessons into your life. If you found this valuable, please consider supporting my labor via my Wishtender or with a gift card. I appreciate everyone’s patience and understanding as I take time away from in-person sessions in order to build a stable and sustainable foundation for myself. Until next time…
Ava will be on vacation May 13-21
All requests will be responded to on May 22