is there a problem with 'fuck yes' consent?

It sounds like a promising idea:

“If the answer isn’t, ‘Fuck yes!’ then the answer is ‘Fuck no.’”

Lots of people shared this idea with me and then more recently I saw it this way:

“If your response isn’t ‘fuck yes’ it’s no” @charlieglickman #EmbodiedConsent

— PDX Academy of SexEd (@PDXAcademyofSex) September 26, 2014

“Fuck yes” is a clear way of expressing “enthusiastic consent,” which is the gold standard consent to sex: everyone involved is thrilled to be there, doing what they’re doing.

And it’s awesome!


As a woman with a demanding job (that often involves talking about sexual violence in explicit and emotional ways) and a bookto finish, if I waited to begin sex until the answer was “Fuck yes,” I would probably go months and months without having sex. (And sometimes I do.)

“Fuck yes!” is a standard that only a person with spontaneous desire can apply. And I only have spontaneous desire when I’m not working as much as I simply must work most of the year.

But I – and the many, many other people out there with context-sensitive desire – am not doomed to a life without consensual sex.


In place of “Fuck yes!” I offer this alternative:

“Oooh, what’s that?” consent.


Curious consent.


It’s not at all the same as, “I guess so, if you want to,” consent or “Um, do we have to?” consent or “ugh, jesus FINE.” (Arguably, none of those are actually consent.)


But neither does it require that your engines are already revved.


It’s an active yes that requires is that you LIKE and WANT what’s happening, and are curious about what might come next.

“Fuck Yes!” consent is when you LIKE and WANT what’s happening and are SLOBBERING for what’s next.

And I say that if you want just a little bit more than you’ve already got, that’s great! Liking what’s going on and wanting a little more, you’re in a great position to consent to a little more. Then if you like that too and want a little more still, consent to a little more.

And then when you’re at a point where you like and want what’s happening and have no interest in more, that’s the end of the consent line. No worries!


Now of course, this only works in a situation where everyone involved understands that consent is active, ongoing, and limited, that consent to breast touching is not consent to genital touching, or even breast more breast touching. It only works in a situation where everyone can say yes or no without fear of judgment or shame, where everyone is equally autonomous and cooperative.

Which means it will work only in the most extraordinary circumstances, alas.

But I think it’s important to recognize that you can like and want what’s happening without liking or wanting more, and that you can want only a little more, and that you can stop consenting ever. And I think it’s a good idea to legitimize that style of consent with a name: curious consent.