Pagan values month: informed consent

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I’ve decided just to focus on the sexuality ethos this month because covering everything that falls under my ethical consciousness would take forever.

A few things that I should make clear about myself as we go deeper into the values discussion:

Values don’t come from nowhere. Mine come from my experience being an adult up to the moment I type this. While I’m reluctant to disclose background for fear of being one of those jackasses that talks about myself with no real interest in or to other people, I’ll go ahead and get the disclosure out of the way now. If you know where I’m coming from, it may help you to more deeply understand what I’m saying.

I classify myself as neopagan Wiccan, and it’s definitely a new-school Wicca – I came into it about a year before there was a big wave of interest in the 90s. So yes, I’m one of those that people from preceding traditions refer to (in my mind patronizingly) as NeoWiccan. This gave me a year of actual reading and research before I even had Internet access. I’m also very well-versed in Christianity, and I consider my experience with it a valuable start to my spiritual life. Moving on to paganism was very organic and natural to me, and my primary problems with Christianity have been family members reacting poorly to my conversion (which they would not know about had they not invaded my privacy.) While I think that Wicca is not a “do what you want” religion ritually or ethically speaking, far too many people who came in when I did see it that way, and it troubles me but not enough that I’m inclined to do much more about it than write.  I am significantly different from many of those who came around when I did in that I actually regularly practice magic both on my own and with partners/groups. I’ve been practicing magic all 14 years, and while I’ve certainly made mistakes, I don’t fear those mistakes and have always been able to handle my own cleanup. I’ve gone through third-degree initiations in two different traditions; I don’t really cite them much because they’re not relevant to my life now, and I mention them here to make it clear that what I write isn’t coming from my imagination and idealism alone. While I don’t carry on with either tradition, certainly both have had some sort of impact on my thinking.

Something about the amalgam of my training, being independent from my parents/out of their house at 18 and being given sex ed in the days of AIDS automatically being a death sentence makes me very conservative compared to my neopagan siblings. I enjoy pleasure, but hedonism is by no means my life highlight and will sometimes repel me, and since I’m not the sort to hange pentacles and knick-knacks all over my home, someone who wandered in would swear my life philosophy would have something about “clean living” in it.

So, to informed consent:

These are simply my morals, and how I apply them. I do ask people that I sleep with to engage in these practices with me – it is the price for the privilege of my body and company – but it’s no skin off my nose if other people don’t apply these. If I’m never going to sleep with you it doesn’t matter to me what you do as long as no one I care about gets hurt.

I also have practiced sex magic for over a decade. No, it’s not the Great Rite or some Thelemic whosit, it’s simply using the energy that sex creates for magic using Wiccan methods of energy management.  That stuff is NOT a magical child unless you want one. But I really absolutely believe that partner selection should be done with considerable thought and deliberation, rather than just jumping at a hormonal response. Hormones can lead to viable partners, but there’s a point where it’s time to lead the hormones. I really do believe that I take on some of the characteristics of whoever I’m sleeping with, and that I retain certain characteristics from every person I’ve ever slept with.

Because I would prefer to take in positive characteristics over negative ones, sleeping together is my final test of compatibility and not my first one. I need to know the character of the person I’m with, and I’m incapable of being physically attracted to a moron. Seriously – I’ve had a few muscle bound types try for me, and…no. I couldn’t get through the first conversation, let alone let these guys anywhere near my bed. There’s some cliche’ about sexual arousal being 90% mental and for me that’s 100% true.  This doesn’t mean I require an extended period of courtship – I just don’t make up my mind until the fourth or fifth date, and between relationships I expect and prepare for long periods, even years, of celibacy.

Along with vetting the personality and knowing what I’m getting into, it allows me to inform my partner and my partner to inform me of certain things I think I should know before I have sex with a man.

This is a loose list, and varies, but it matters a lot to me:

1. The date of the last STD testing.

2. A complete understanding that no condom = no sex. I do turn away men with latex allergies. It sounds cold, but there are plenty of women who don’t have my requirement and it’s not my job to compromise my own body and safety to make someone else feel better. Also, about half the time the men that claim a latex allergy are lying about it. It only occurs in .9% of the population; it’s slightly less frequent than severe nut allergies. I’m more likely to believe the guy if he tells me he’s allergic to nuts first.

I have never met a man who, when given a choice between wearing a condom or not having sex, has chosen abstinence. No one has gone into anaphylaxis as a result of condom use yet.

3. This surprised me with the controversy: I ask to know the number of prior sexual partners. I do this because I prefer someone who is as selective as I am, but also because there’s a point where there might be latent STDs or tendencies towards infidelity – since I am monogamous, I need a partner who is signed on to monogamy the same way I am. I believe in the value of the past relationship rundown.

4. I make sure we’re on the same page about no kids. I made the mistake of dating one guy in college who tried to pull the pinhole-in-the-condom trick with me and succeeded with the girl he dated after me.

5. Kinks and fetishes. This is always my most uncomfortable conversation, as I’m very low-kink and I will find a guy who is absolutely great but absolutely needs certain things in bed. This is one of the reasons I talk about this stuff up front before we ever make it to the bed; winding up with a ball gag in your mouth when you find it deeply offensive just gets awkward. Especially since rather than experiencing sub drop, I’m likely to press charges. Not that I mind all of them, but anything involving human offal, animals, or someone else making my decisions for me are all big nos for me. And I don’t enjoy domme work much at all – it’s just work.

6. Religious beliefs. If a man fears he’ll go to hell for being with me, that just won’t work.

7. And, after all that, sexual compatibility. If he doesn’t give as good as he gets, he’s outie. I consider the act of sex a prayer and offering to Eros, so it’s important to put thought into it and to make it as good as possible. There is no reason for a sexually active adult to tolerate bad sex.

I really think I’ve had a great sex life because I’ve been willing to deal with the far and few between in partners and because I do go through all these steps – and this does enhance my connection to Eros, who, for all his running around, was prone to monogamy/fewish partners  himself.