In the #MeToo era I’m always shocked to hear someone say they don’t think consent belongs in romance novels because it kills the mood. Sure, early romance novels featured plenty of rape, or at least strong coercion, that turned into willing participation. But that was to preserve the heroine’s reputation.
It wasn’t her fault the sex happened, but the hero was so good in bed she ended up loving it—and him. Except those days are long gone. Or they should be.
Today women are allowed to enjoy sex because it is enjoyable. We should also be allowed to determine whom we want to engage in sex with, and when, and how. None of us owe anybody sex, no matter what they’ve said, done, or paid for for us. That’s where consent comes in.
Who doesn’t get turned on knowing they’re making their partner feel good. Or knowing their partner wants more of whatever they’re doing, more of them.
Really, is there anything hotter than someone saying, “I want you now.” Or, a new partner thoughtful enough to ask, “Are you sure?”
The same holds true in romance novels. My characters aren’t stopping to sign a consent waiver in the middle of foreplay. There is no dry side discussion of what’s going to be okay and what’s not while the guy’s got a raging stiffie.
Consent is as simple as whispering what they want in their partner’s ear. It could be one person saying fuck me, please. Or the other person asking, “Do you want me inside you?” and getting a resounding YES in return.
Jules squirmed and groaned.
“Please, Evan.” She pushed gently on my head and rocked her hips.
I looked her in the eye. “Please, what?”
She bit her lip, gaze wide and clear. “Please lick my clit and fuck me with your fingers until I come all over your hand.”
My dick turned into a concrete post and it was a miracle I didn’t come right then and there.
“As you wish.”
That right there is consent loud and clear from both parties, and I think it’s sexy as hell. It’s an ongoing conversation, a give and a take. And both parties know it can be taken away at any moment, even though they’ve had sex once before.
In every steamy book I read or write, I want consent to be integral to the story. Depending on whether it’s given or taken away, it can show kindness or vulnerability. Caring or callousness. No matter what, it’s critical to building trust and intimacy in a relationship.
What’s not sexy is asking for consent, getting rejected, and doing it anyway. Lack of consent is coercion and assault at best, rape at worst. That’s the last thing we need to be glorifying on the page, on the screen, or in our own bedrooms.
Women need the agency and safety to be able to say what they do not want in the bedroom and beyond. Any man who doesn’t ask for, or wait for, consent is avoiding getting turned down.
Because of the power dynamics between men and women, many women give in rather than stand firm because it’s easier. It’s also sometimes physically safer, even though every woman who acquiesces when we don’t want to pays a price emotionally.
That’s not sexy at all. It’s scary and horrifying and can make a person never want to have sex again. So, I say we all say yes to consent, all the time. In real life and romance novels.
How do you feel about consent in romance novels? Does it
bother you, or do you like it? Please do share your thoughts below…
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