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Choking Me During Sex Without Consent Is Assault

In my early 20s, aggressive sex became the norm in my world, and I was too afraid to speak up about it. Not anymore.
Photo by Alexey Dulin/EyeEm

Here it is, plain and simple: I don’t want your cum on my face. I don’t want it on my tits, or anywhere else on my body for that matter. When it comes to sex, I don’t enjoy being demeaned. I don’t appreciate dirty talk that pins me as anything less than equal to you, and I definitely don’t appreciate the pleasure certain men have derived from knowing their dick bruised my cervix. I’m sick of feeling pressured to succumb to that kind of sexual dynamic. Or, equally frustrating, sick of feeling that when I do speak up about it, I’m branding myself a “boring” fuck.


If I’ve learned anything in the years I've been sexually active, it's that rough, male-dominated sex—the kind often depicted in mainstream pornography—has deeply permeated hookup culture. And studies have shown that porn consumption corresponds with aggressive sexual behavior in real-life settings. My experiences seem to confirm it: Throughout my early 20s, I found myself with guy after guy who thought it was no big deal to choke me, spank me, pull my hair, and/or jackhammer me with his dick, with no real regard as to whether or not I enjoyed his directionless convulsing. Maybe the latter was because penises are increasingly becoming numb, porn-warped nightmares these days, but that’s no excuse—all this stuff has been done to me by partners who didn’t seek my consent first. I was never asked if I felt comfortable or enjoyed this kind of sex. My partners were either too self-involved to think about my feelings or unaware that sex just isn’t what you see in porn, and made the terrible assumption that their behavior was just what women “like.”

For several years, I felt an unspoken pressure to adhere to those kinds of desires, sexual or otherwise. I found it so difficult to get commitment and affection out of the men in my life that I avoided expressing how I really felt, for fear of losing what relationships I did have. I was convinced that if I did, I’d quickly be abandoned for a woman who wasn’t as “fussy” or “high maintenance.” The worst part was that those fears were often proven true. Men have ignored my complaints and left me when I stood up for myself, completely validating the notion that an outspoken woman is a lonely one. Of course, I eventually learned to get over all that and not give a fuck. I know now that real, grown-ass men don’t act that way. But that’s something it took years to figure out—far too long, frankly, and only after kissing way too many frogs (who then forcibly moved my head in the direction of their dicks).


Too many heterosexual men make sex all about themselves. It’s time to end that once and for all and make it absolutely clear: Sexual acts performed without affirmative consent from your partner are a form of sexual assault.

I think back to the guy who wrapped his hand around my throat tightly, making it hard to breathe simply because that was something he was into. In what universe was that OK? It took him far too long to adhere to my plea for him to let go. And I still went on three more dates with him.

I think back to when I was 22, when the much older man I thought I was in love with forcibly flipped me over and pounded away without listening when I said that position hurt too much. That, in fact, only turned him on more. My ensuing silence was apparently some sort of permission to let him finish, but it felt like I had no choice in the matter.

I think back to the dozens and dozens of times things like that have happened to me—times that have left me with unwanted bruises or sore body parts. Even if I wasn’t physically harmed, those acts have often left me with an overwhelming feeling of dread. And even when sex wasn’t overtly rough, I’ve still felt demeaned and degraded when men did things that are now somehow considered standard fare: times I’ve been ejaculated on, spanked, and verbally humiliated.

My early 20s were a period rife with confusion and disappointment, and nearly every time I had sex, I remember thinking to myself, Isn’t this supposed to be fun? Isn’t sex supposed to end in smiles and euphoria? Shit, at the very least, aren’t we supposed to cuddle afterward?


All that said, there’s obviously nothing inherently wrong with rough sex or sexual submission, and I don’t mean to shame or other those who love it. Submission can be great! I know plenty of women who enjoy submissive sex in powerful, empowering ways. But women should never, ever be made to be submissive against their will. Men shouldn’t assume their “default” role in sex is to be dominant. And women shouldn’t be made to feel like their sexual prowess is ruined when they aren’t submissive. When our modern cultural discourse has qualified exciting sex as the kind where a girl chokes on his cock, that’s a huge problem.

Watch VICE News Tonight explore how the Weinstein scandal will change the reporting of sexual assault:

If that’s the case, then yeah, I’m boring as fuck. I’m as plain as they come with my preference for sex where I’m not subject to violence and physical boundaries are respected. And it’s not that I’m a bad fuck, at least in my own humble opinion. In fact, the more sex I had that wasn’t just about what the guy wanted, the more I loosened up and, you know, was able to ride a dick real good or whatever. If you think I don’t like sex after reading this, you’re so, so wrong and probably one of the dudes who ruined my 20s. The fact is, I’m one of the horniest people I know, and I genuinely love sex—when it’s done right, that is.

I’m a bit older now, and this kind of stuff happens far less than it used to. The men I started meeting got better. I somehow came to realize that not giving a fuck about "disappointing" them in bed is a beautiful thing (though it can be very, very hard to do at times). To the women out there who aren’t quite there yet, know that that’s OK—and, more important, that you absolutely can’t be afraid to say no when you’re not down with something a guy does during sex. Speak up and demand that you get the best sex possible, even if it doesn’t align with some guy’s terrifying Pornhub niche. At the end of the day, this isn’t about your orgasm—it’s about your agency.

And to the men who are realizing I’m talking about you, have some accountability for the way you fuck. Don’t shame women into feeling inept because we don’t want to choke on your dick. And don’t get defensive, either. Get empathetic. Get real. And get smarter.

Follow Alison Stevenson on Twitter.