Out In The Open

How a sex worker negotiates consent

As a sex worker, Alice has a lot of experience navigating consent. She explains how to translate it to personal relationships.
Obtaining consent can be sexy (Sergio Fabara Muñoz)
Listen9:35

Consent doesn't have to be verbal, according to Alice*, who makes a living as a sex worker. She would know — she's a master of balancing consent while engaging in a business transaction.

"One of the great things inherent in exchange of sex as service — you inherently know that consent and negotiation is involved," she says. The fact that communication is — and has to be — so open from the get-go sets a precedent for discussion around what is OK and not OK.

Alice also softens the blow when turning down certain things. "I use language to make that 'no' easier to swallow ... [If] it's not a specific something I'm interested in, I can use language to say, 'Oh, that sounds kind of hot, but you know what I really enjoy? I really like this way and this'," she says, "I'm using language to hack this."

Alice says communication is key — and it can be used as foreplay.

"Get curious about your own body and what's turning you on. Laugh about it and say 'turns out that didn't turn me on, let's try something else'. Ask your partner too: what turns you on?" she says, "I think there's so much that we can learn from each other."

*Alice is not her real name. We've agreed to keep her identity anonymous.