“Consent is sexy” is, in fact, the grossest.
I have a very core problem with this sentence, to wit, I don’t think we should have to lead people around by the boner to get them to treat other human beings with basic respect. I mean, imagine if we applied this strategy to everything else. “If you don’t punch dudes in the face, they’re more likely to suck your cock!” ”Tip your waitress, she might ride your face in the back room.” ”I hear if you don’t sing along when you’re watching Les Miz in theaters a naked oiled Hugh Jackman appears.”
“People doing sexythings they like is sexier than people doing sexythings they don’t like, and if you don’t rape people they will be more likely to do sexythings they like with you!” is the exact. Same. Fucking. Thing.
Sometimes, indeed, consent is sexy. There is not much sexier than having sex with someone who genuinely wants to have sex with you. But the issue is not ”should I have sex with people that want to have sex with me and that I want to have sex with?” Except for a few busybodies, everyone is pretty much down with that! (And even the busybodies are mostly concerned with why you shouldn’t want sex that they don’t like.)
But in most of the situations where consent culture matters, consent is very clearly not sexy. If you get rid of the social pressure for college students to have casual sex, fewer college students will have casual sex. If you stop making asexuals feel broken because they don’t want sex, fewer asexuals will have sex. If you stop slapping female submissives on the ass without asking them, you don’t get to slap as many female submissives on the ass. If you refuse to have sex with people who don’t want sex with you, your pool of potential sexual partners shrinks.
How many times do you have to have sex for sheer abundance to outweigh the fact that it’s less hot when your partner doesn’t want it? Fifty times? A hundred? A thousand?
(Not to mention that if you do it right you can convince them to grit their teeth and fake enjoying it, for you, because anything’s better than another tantrum…)
Some people, a few of whom have the nerve to call themselves part of the sex-positive movement, seem to have a primary goal of maximizing The Sexy. Consent is all well and good, they think, because rape is certainly not sexy. But it is very clearly a means to an end here. When abandoning consent culture leads to an increase in The Sexy, they will gladly abandon consent culture. And I think “consent is sexy” plays into the same damn mindset.
To me, consent culture is not a means to sexiness; sexiness is a means to consent culture. If you let people do what they want with their own bodies, some of the things they do will be sexy things, and that’s awesome! The expectation that the things they do should be sexy things? Not awesome! Seriously, when your anti-rape slogan reinforces rape culture, you have made a wrong turn somewhere.