I've got some concerns regarding sexual consent and about being a good friend, of the sort with or without benefits. As usual, this post is where I am going to put a lot more thought into one small part of typical life than most people would, but asking for and receiving feedback on these issues is how I keep myself on track, at least somewhat.
Freely given sex is a good thing.
Rape is a bad thing, and consider this a trigger warning for the next section of this post.
In between those two there is a very wide and fuzzy grey area.
A woman initiating a transaction where she trades sex for some non-monetary consideration, in the way that a wife or girlfriend might, is ... ok?
A man initiating the same transaction gets a more critical look, but rarely negative consequences.
Either party doing the same strictly for monetary exchange is frowned on, and even criminalized, by many, but I think not so much by more enlightened folks.
Trading sex for necessities means that no sex results in no food or no shelter, and that starts to seriously trigger my consent concerns.
Demanding sex on threat of property damage is rape.
Demanding sex on threat of violence and injury is rape.
Demanding sex on threat of death is rape.
Right in the middle of that list is the point of the rest of this post.
I make a decent amount of money. I can afford to clothe, feed, shelter, and support some persons of my choosing. I cannot, however, afford to do that for every person that I know who is in some degree of need. No matter what I do, I have to leave someone in need. Despite the amount of drama it can lead to, it seems that American / western society at large says it's OK for me to choose to do this only for my intimate partner(s) and/or relatives. In general, I am less interested in what American society things, since Those People are the ones who keep electing shills and watching American Idol, and a lot more interested in what my acquaintances and friends think.
I have multiple intimate partners. They all know about each other, to some degree. The levels of emotional investment vary from someone I consider a lifetime partner to "booty calls" and everything in between. Some of them, at one time or another, are looking for a place to stay. I have my own bed, and one or two spare bedrooms, and other potential considerations. I can't invite everyone to live with me. Am I way off base in thinking that sharing my accommodations with someone I'm sleeping with is a potentially valid criterion? If not, then the logical extension of that question is to acceptable courses of action when we are no longer sleeping together.
Ladies, what would you think if a guy offered you a place to live, with reduced or no rent, on the condition that your existing intimate relationship continue? Or, if he didn't make that a condition up front, but asked you to leave when the relationship ended?
Guys, how would you feel about a friend who did that? Or about a girl who took that offer? Do you already have an arrangement like that?
Everyone, those same questions but applied in the less-common-but-equally-relevant opposite directions? Do you recognize that what I've described is just the typical American live-in-girlfriend arrangement that most of us are perfectly comfortable leaving unspoken and undiscussed?
I know that most people won't spend even a few minutes their whole life thinking about this. To average folks, there is some "obvious" line in between acceptable and unacceptable, and be damned the fact that no one else draws that line in the same place that you do. I don't like situations like that, and seek consensus or at least thoughtful input so that I can make more informed decisions. If nothing else, I don't want to unnecessarily damage future relationships with potentially unacceptable behavior now. Ideally, I'd find one answer that makes everyone happy, but I know that won't happen, because there are enough people out there who are strongly enough opposed to this whole idea that they'd rather I just have empty rooms.
I hope that reading over this and answering these questions to help me also helps you, in some small way. I'd also appreciate hearing about that, whether it made you think or made you change something about your life or reaffirmed your decisions.
cross posted on Facebook