A recent experience with a person of the opposite sex made me wonder how many women and men my age (23 to 38) have encountered moments with the same or opposite sex where the intimacy escalated without verbal consent. Not by means of forceful and unwanted penetration but situations where first base turns into second base in a blink of an eye.
In these situations, I've felt uncomfortably awkward and like I was obligated to kick things up a notch when this was never my intention to begin with. Recently, I found myself retracing my steps after a night of drinks escalated from networking to heavy kissing and petting.
It's a Thursday night in North Hollywood and I'm meeting, let's call him Gregg, at a bar near Little Armenia. I agreed to go out for drinks with Gregg at my friend's job. Originally, I thought he asked me out for drinks to network because that's what people in LA do, we get drinks with each other and talk business. This is what I thought this was.
I showed up at a bar and found Gregg saving me a seat. I extend a hug, sit down, and look over the menu full of beer and wine options. Last year I discovered consuming products with brewer's yeast exacerbates a skin condition I've had for over a decade called Hidradenitis Suppurativa (HS). So, because of this, I suggest we go to a bar with a wider selection.
We found a speakeasy-like establishment down the street. The room is dimly lit. In the middle of the floor is the bar with stools and tables against the wall. I order a margarita and he orders some specialty drink on the menu. I reach to pay for my drink when he says he's got it with me being jobless and all. I kind of cut my eyes and then laughed it off.
We find a seat at one of the tables against the wall. We start talking about our careers and ambitions as we sip on spirits. At this point I'm feeling nice. Suddenly, I feel his leg is rubbing against mine.
The energy has clearly shifted. I found him attractive, so I didn't pull my leg away, however it was still awkward for me.
I thought this was a platonic meeting of the minds but clearly it's a little bit deeper than that. In an attempt to not let my awkwardness show, I start talking about astrology and how crazy it is we were both Leos. He buys another round of drinks and then asks if I'm hungry. He suggests we grab the food and take the food back to his apartment.
I know what you're thinking at this point, if I didn't want to have sex, then why did I agree to go back to his apartment? Well, I love watching Netflix and eating Thai with company, that's why. Plus, as I said, I found him attractive so I wasn't opposed to spending more time with him. In fact, I liked that he took charge in the flow of the night.
We ordered Thai to-go from a restaurant down the street. The waiter says it'll be 15-20 minutes so, we decide to go back to the bar for another drink. By this time I'm tipsy, but not sloppy drunk. We pick the food up, hop in a shared ride and head to his apartment a few blocks from the bar. I chill on the couch while he turns on Netflix. He hands me an edible and asks me to roll a jay.
After a few puffs, we shotgun. A shotgun when smoking is when one person inhales smoke to blow in another person's mouth. After a few rounds of this, we start kissing passionately. I don't know if it was the mutual attraction, the substances or both but I felt myself opening up even though he didn't ask me if I wanted to kiss. He assumed.
I found myself on top of him in the middle of an impassioned kiss when I remembered his roommates were home. He says we can go into his room. I hesitantly look at him and then to the bedroom. I didn't want to give the wrong impression. I especially didn't want to start something I had no intention on finishing. But I also wasn't opposed to continuing our make-out session. So, I went to the bedroom.
As we lay on the bed, we start kissing again and all of a sudden I hear a zipper come down and feel his hand guiding mine to hold his flaccidness. I pause and tell him I don't want to have sex to which he responds, "We can do other things besides have sex." This is where my passion turned to discomfort and I knew I had to get out of this situation. So, I say I have to use the bathroom.
In the bathroom, I look in the mirror and wonder when I consented to second base? I asked myself if I should have come back to his apartment? Did my nonverbal cues provide consent? Upon entering the bedroom again he was back in the living room eating the Thai I had completely forgotten about at this point. I was relieved.
I sat on the couch to watch Sex Ed while he ate his Thai and answered work emails. I sensed he was no longer interested. He says he's going to bed soon which is code for it's time for you to go home. I took the hint and ordered a ride. He escorted me out and said he had a good time. I said I did too, possibly out of obligation. It was a good time until we got to the bedroom. I haven't talked to him since.
After all was said and done, I realized this isn't what I want intimacy to look like in my life. I like that he was forward, but what I didn't like is that this boldness turned into assumptions which made for an awkward night for me.
What I truly wanted was for Gregg to ask for consent at every step like he asked if I wanted another drink or wanted to grab food or wanted to go back to his apartment.
Some reading this might say consent was given when I didn't pull my leg away or when I went to his apartment and laid in his bed. However, consent is defined "as a voluntary, enthusiastic, and clear agreement between the participants to engage in specific sexual activity," according to Healthline. I agreed to drinks, food, and to go back to his apartment, watch Netflix and make-out.
Everything else was assumed and not implied.
If you ever find yourself in my position, talk about your boundaries before they get a chance to whip it out. Be clear about your intentions every step of the way. Express you would like to take things slow when it comes to having sex but are open for intimate exchanges outside of that.
If you find yourself being a Gregg, know that unless consent is clear, ongoing, coherent, and voluntary then you have no business exposing yourself to someone. Any type of sexual activity without consent, including touching, fondling, kissing, and intercourse, is a form of sexual assault and may be considered a crime.
It may be awkward at first to ask for consent every step of the way, but this is the first step in making sure everyone's boundaries are respected. One of the many ways to have this discussion is by asking simple questions like, "Can I kiss you? Can I put your/my hand here? Can I take this off? Does it feel good when I do [insert action]?"
Consenting under the influence can be tricky because for example, when I was under the influence I was cognitively aware enough to give consent. However, there are some scenarios where one or both parties are sloppy drunk and incoherent which, legally, consent cannot be provided. There's a study showing a link between excessive alcohol consumption and a risk for committing sexual assault. It says approximately one half of sexual assaults involve alcohol consumption by the perpetrator, the person who's been assaulted, or both.
When under the influence but cognitively aware, I think it's extremely important to talk about your boundaries. Know that if you're assaulted under the influence, it is in no way your fault. Women and men can be assaulted regardless of the blood alcohol level. If you find yourself in a situation where you initially wanted to have sex or go to second base but are having second thoughts, you have a right to disengage and the other person has an obligation to respect your decision. There's way too much at stake to assume. We must protect each other.
xoNecole is always looking for new voices and empowering stories to add to our platform. If you have an interesting story or personal essay that you'd love to share, we'd love to hear from you. Contact us at email@example.com.
Featured image by Shutterstock
- To Have and to Hold: Consent and Intimacy for People With ... ›
- Intimacy without Consent: Lynching as Sexual Violence | Politics ... ›
- Consent to Intimate Regulation by Kaiponanea T. Matsumura :: SSRN ›
- Relationships and consent - Body Talk ›
- Sexual consent: Apps that set rules for intimacy come with their own ... ›
- Intimacy: Consent - by MINT Leap Year Artist Amanda Grae Platner ... ›
- Consent for Intimacy Among Persons With Neurocognitive Impairment. ›
Exclusive: Gabrielle Union On Radical Transparency, Being Diagnosed With Perimenopause And Embracing What’s Next
Whenever Gabrielle Union graces the movie screen, she immediately commands attention. From her unforgettable scenes in films like Bring It On and Two Can Play That Game to her most recent film, in which she stars and produces Netflix’s The Perfect Find, there’s no denying that she is that girl.
Off-screen, she uses that power for good by sharing her trials and tribulations with other women in hopes of helping those who may be going through the same things or preventing them from experiencing them altogether. Recently, the Flawless by Gabrielle Union founder partnered with Clearblue to speak at the launch of their Menopause Stage Indicator, where she also shared her experience with being perimenopausal.
In a xoNecoleexclusive, the iconic actress opens up about embracing this season of her life, new projects, and overall being a “bad motherfucker.” Gabrielle reveals that she was 37 years old when she was diagnosed with perimenopause and is still going through it at 51 years old. Mayo Clinic says perimenopause “refers to the time during which your body makes the natural transition to menopause, marking the end of the reproductive years.”
“I haven't crossed over the next phase just yet, but I think part of it is when you hear any form of menopause, you automatically think of your mother or grandmother. It feels like an old-person thing, but for me, I was 37 and like not understanding what that really meant for me. And I don't think we focus so much on the word menopause without understanding that perimenopause is just the time before menopause,” she tells us.
Photo by Brian Thomas
"But you can experience a lot of the same things during that period that people talk about, that they experienced during menopause. So you could get a hot flash, you could get the weight gain, the hair loss, depression, anxiety, like all of it, mental health challenges, all of that can come, you know, at any stage of the menopausal journey and like for me, I've been in perimenopause like 13, 14 years. When you know, most doctors are like, ‘Oh, but it's usually about ten years, and I'm like, ‘Uhh, I’m still going (laughs).’”
Conversations about perimenopause, fibroids, and all the things that are associated with women’s bodies have often been considered taboo and thus not discussed publicly. However, times are changing, and thanks to the Gabrielle’s and the Tia Mowry’s, more women are having an authentic discourse about women’s health. These open discussions lead to the creation of more safe spaces and support for one another.
“I want to be in community with folks. I don't ever want to feel like I'm on an island about anything. So, if I can help create community where we are lacking, I want to be a part of that,” she says. “So, it's like there's no harm in talking about it. You know what I mean? Like, I was a bad motherfucker before perimenopause. I’m a bad motherfucker now, and I'll be a bad motherfucker after menopause. Know what I’m saying? None of that has to change. How I’m a bad motherfucker, I welcome that part of the change. I'm just getting better and stronger and more intelligent, more wise, more patient, more compassionate, more empathetic. All of that is very, very welcomed, and none of it should be scary.”
The Being Mary Jane star hasn’t been shy about her stance on therapy. If you don’t know, here’s a hint: she’s all for it, and she encourages others to try it as well. She likens therapy to dating by suggesting that you keep looking for the right therapist to match your needs. Two other essential keys to her growth are radical transparency and radical acceptance (though she admits she is still working on the latter).
"I was a bad motherfucker before perimenopause. I’m a bad motherfucker now, and I'll be a bad motherfucker after menopause. Know what I’m saying? None of that has to change. How I’m a bad motherfucker, I welcome that part of the change."
Gabrielle Union and Kaavia Union-Wade
Photo by Monica Schipper/Getty Images
“I hope that a.) you recognize that you're not alone. Seek out help and know that it's okay to be honest about what the hell is happening in your life. That's the only way that you know you can get help, and that's also the only other way that people know that you are in need if there's something going on,” she says, “because we have all these big, very wild, high expectations of people, but if they don't know what they're actually dealing with, they're always going to be failing, and you will always be disappointed. So how about just tell the truth, be transparent, and let people know where you are. So they can be of service, they can be compassionate.”
Gabrielle’s transparency is what makes her so relatable, and has so many people root for her. Whether through her TV and film projects, her memoirs, or her social media, the actress has a knack for making you feel like she’s your homegirl. Scrolling through her Instagram, you see the special moments with her family, exciting new business ventures, and jaw-dropping fashion moments. Throughout her life and career, we’ve seen her evolve in a multitude of ways. From producing films to starting a haircare line to marriage and motherhood, her journey is a story of courage and triumph. And right now, in this season, she’s asking, “What’s next?”
“This is a season of discovery and change. In a billion ways,” says the NAACP Image Award winner. “The notion of like, ‘Oh, so and so changed. They got brand new.’ I want you to be brand new. I want me to be brand new. I want us to be always constantly growing, evolving. Having more clarity, moving with different purpose, like, and all of that is for me very, very welcomed."
"I want you to be brand new. I want me to be brand new. I want us to be always constantly growing, evolving. Having more clarity, moving with different purpose, like, and all of that is for me very, very welcomed."
She continues, “So I'm just trying to figure out what's next. You know what I mean? I'm jumping into what's next. I'm excited going into what's next and new. I'm just sort of embracing all of what life has to offer.”
Look out for Gabrielle in the upcoming indie film Riff Raff, which is a crime comedy starring her and Jennifer Coolidge, and she will also produce The Idea of You, which stars Anne Hathaway.
Let’s make things inbox official! Sign up for the xoNecole newsletter for daily love, wellness, career, and exclusive content delivered straight to your inbox.
Feature image by Mike Lawrie/Getty Images
Kerry Washington and Nnamdi Asomugha are one of Hollywood’s notoriously private couples, but since the release of her memoir, Thicker Than Water, the Scandal actress has been more open about their union. The mother of two stopped by The Drew Barrymore Show and shared details about how they met. The beautiful couple met at Drew’s family theater, The Barrymore Theater, in 2009, where Kerry made her Broadway debut. She played Susan in David Mamet’s Race.
"I was doing my Broadway debut. It’s such a storied, important theater," the Emmy award-winning actress shared. "It was my first time on Broadway, and now I write about it in my book, so it has another fun legend to fill all the beautiful things that have happened at that theater."
Kerry and Nnamdi met backstage, and the author revealed whether it was love at first sight or a slow burn. Here’s a hint: it was “a little bit of both.”
"You talk to people like my parents who’ve been married for as long as they’ve been married. I think both are important. I think that first sight thing for me was really important and undeniable, but I think the slow burn is what keeps you going," she said. "We’ve been married 10 years now, so it's like an immediate with a great slow burn that I hope will keep burning."
We couldn’t agree more. In a past interview, the UnPrisioned star explained why they kept their relationship private for so long, and while talking to Drew, she revealed they even used code names when they were getting married.
"We had some fun with code names, so Jason Wu made my wedding gown, and I adore him,” she said. “He’s the person who made Michelle Obama’s Inaugural gown. He was secretly custom-making this wedding gown for me, but we used to say that it was for the Moroccan premiere of Scandal.”
Kerry Washington Reveals How She Met Her Husband | The Drew Barrymore Show
Let’s make things inbox official! Sign up for the xoNecole newsletter for daily love, wellness, career, and exclusive content delivered straight to your inbox.
Feature image by Bryan Bedder/Getty Images for Bronx Children's Museum