Ashley Kelsch Discusses Consent on ‘Modern Renegades’ Podcast
“Sign me up for ‘not sexy and not exciting’ rather than ‘unclear and misunderstood’”
By Ashley Kelsch
Ashley Kelsch is Austin’s top certified, professional dating and relationship coach and former owner of Teddies for Betty’s, the lingerie boutique on 2nd Street that she ran for a decade. She offers one-on-one life-coaching programs to help clients acknowledge and understand limiting beliefs, to set boundaries and to learn how to change mindsets so they can get what they want in their romantic lives and feel empowered. Ashley helps men and women of all ages, single and married. She has a weekly podcast called Modern Renegades, and you can follow her on Instagram @AshleyMKelsch. Read more of her Tribeza columns here.
Last month while scrolling on Instagram, I came across a post that said, “Clarity is not cruelty,” and I stopped.
The post, by Dr. Alexandra Solomon, went on to say, “Many of us learned early on in our lives to trade authenticity for belonging. We became exactly who our family system needed us to be long before we even really knew who we were.”
After some examples, she continues: “And if you were a little girl, you had the double whammy of the family dynamic AND the cultural narrative working in tandem to silence your truth. I continue to be struck by how subtly and profoundly we, as girls, are taught to accommodate the needs/whims/preferences/insecurities of boys/men.”
There is more to it and I recommend reading the post in its entirety.
The day before, I recorded an episode of my “Modern Renegades” podcast called “Saying What You Mean” in which I talked about a general confusion when it comes to consent and communicating what you want.
Almost daily I listen to men and women who find themselves confused about what is happening in their romantic situations because they make assumptions rather than get clarifications.
“If I invite her over for dinner, she knows that means sex.”
“When I ask them to lay down, they know that means sex.”
“If he doesn’t want to have sex with me on the first date, it means I’m not attractive and he’s not into me.”
When I ask why these clients don’t ask someone over for dinner and sex, they push back: “That’s not how it works, Ashley. That’s not sexy or exciting.”
In my mind, “not sexy” and “not exciting” would be showing up to have dinner with someone wondering why they are delaying dinner or being a host who is preoccupied about making a move while the chicken is cooking or cooling.
If this is the trade off, sign me up for “not sexy and not exciting” rather than “unclear and misunderstood.” I want to know if you want to have sex with me so I can be part of the decision. I want to know if you like to wait before you engage sexually with someone so I can honor your boundaries.
I find it incredibly sexy when a man asks if he can kiss me. It shows courage, confidence and — most importantly — respect. And it builds trust.
I’m not an expert and am also unlearning what I was taught (and understanding what I was not taught) about consent and how to advocate on my behalf. Conversations with people my age and older, having children and reading and hearing news about sexual misconduct have flipped a switch in me. Not only do I want to understand what consent is, but I feel it’s my responsibility to talk about it.
I reached out to Dr. Alexandra Solomon, who is Clinical Assistant Professor at Northwestern University and a licensed Clinical Psychologist at The Family Institute at Northwestern University, and asked her to join me in a conversation on my podcast exploring what consent is.
“Consent is so much richer than ‘no means no,’ which is the bare minimum definition,” she told me. “Consent is a feedback loop, an ongoing micro feedback loop that ideally [begins] before a sexual experience. I love the idea of us getting as comfortable talking about sex as we are having sex and that sexual experiences begin with a conversation about what might be really fun and what might be interesting and where our boundaries are. And then it continues through the experience.”
We spent an hour discussing why sexual experiences begin with a conversation, the reason people are nervous talking about sex and how to feel more comfortable with it. We talked about the orgasm gap and why it happens in relationships, the problem with sex education in the U.S. We dove into why consent and communication are the foundation of sex, relationships and intimacy. We explored how patriarchy can hurt men as well as women and why there is not enough intimate conversation about sex and consent.
I invite you to tune into our conversation and turn on to the topic of consent.