Consent with Caitlin: Blue balls are fake

Graphic by Haley Morkert. 

CAITLIN SEGRAVES | STAFF REPORTER | csegrave@butler.edu 

Content warning: References to sexual violence are included in this article.

Let’s talk about blue balls. The infamous condition that requires immediate attention, preferably from a partner’s mouth and/or another hole. 

Perhaps this is just my experience, but a lot of individuals with penises have used this condition as an excuse to pressure me into engaging in sexual activities. They usually say something along the lines of “we can’t just stop, you’ll give me blue balls!” or “come on, don’t give me blue balls. Just suck it a little.” Despite the obviously charming delivery of their pleas, I felt uncomfortable. I feel uncomfortable just writing about it. 

The topic of blue balls was usually brought up or alluded to when I would be making out with a guy and I stopped it from going further or continuing. Maybe it was getting too hot and heavy, maybe I had somewhere to be or maybe I just wasn’t into it. The guy was usually aroused and didn’t want the sexy time session to stop, which is fine; those are his feelings. But why should the blame fall on me for mild discomfort in his balls? 

Short answer, it shouldn’t. Jules Arthur-Grable, Butler’s sexual assault and response prevention specialist, frames this feeling of obligation with a nice little reality check. 

“You are not obligated to bring your partner to climax, you are not obligated to do anything, you just stop and tell your partner, ‘hey, I’m not really comfortable with this anymore, I’m sorry’ and that’s the end of it,” Jules Arthur-Grable said. “And then your partner has to respect that. Disappointing? Frustrating? For sure, that’s okay. You’re going to be disappointed and frustrated in your life.”

I know it can suck to be disappointed and frustrated in the bedroom, especially if things are going well for you, but it would be so much worse to coerce your partner into something that they simply do not want to do. It’s also important to note that this applies to relationships, one-night stands and all things in between — as do all consent rules. You should just value human beings and their feelings, regardless of your relationship to them. 

Guilting in the bedroom doesn’t end with your partner asking you to do something. It can also be self-motivated: maybe you want to try something new for your partner but you aren’t sure if you would actually like it. Sometimes it can be hard to tell if you really want to do something or if you’re just trying something new to make your partner happy. It can be fun and rewarding to want to please your partner, but you should also make sure you stay within what you are comfortable with. 

“If you’re feeling obligated to do something for your partner because they did something for you, try it,” Jules Arthur-Grable said. “If you don’t like it, you don’t have to do it again and then you know at that point ‘okay, well, the feeling that I had was an obligation and not an actual desire to do this thing, and now that I know that I’m not going to do it again.’”

It can be really rewarding to try something new, and it can be a great opportunity to learn more about yourself and what you do and don’t like. There might be hard nos, things you know you don’t want to do or try, but it’s okay to be curious and not always know. In one of my previous articles, I discussed that consent should be enthusiastic. But enthusiasm isn’t always screaming “yes,” sometimes it’s just curiosity and desire to explore! 

“Enthusiasm can look like a couple of different things, like enthusiasm doesn’t have to be like jumping out of your socks excited,” Jules Arthur-Grable said. “Enthusiasm can also be curiosity and wanting to explore or wanting to find something new and you can be a little trepidatious.”

“Trepidatious” is a great word to describe this sexual unknown. You might want to explore it — but it can be kind of scary. However, if you can take that leap into the great unknown, you might find something enjoyable! 

Sex is so personal; everyone has different preferences, kinks, etc. It is crucial to know not only what you want, but what your partner wants, too.

“Figure out what they want,” Jules Arthur-Grable said. “Make it pleasurable all around. Everyone wants to climax, figure out how. Don’t just assume you know how to do it. Everybody has different buttons. Find the right combination of buttons.”

Personally, I love that analogy. I always think of a little robot that has this keypad, you push this button, play with that one and you receive a little magic surprise! At the end of the day, we all want to feel good, have great sex and climax. For that to happen, everyone needs to be on board. 

Guilting someone into sex because you have “blue balls” won’t get your relationship, situationship or one night-stand anywhere enjoyable. 

I want to leave off on one last serious note: guilting is never consensual. 

“Someone cannot be guilted into consensual sex; if you are guilted into having sex it is sexual assault,” Jules Arthur-Grable said. “Even if you say yes, if you’ve been pushed into it, if you’re being negotiated with in order to fulfill somebody else’s needs, then it’s not consent.” 

You and your partner need to be on the same page, and you need to communicate to get there. You should not guilt them, pressure them or value them less than what they deserve as a human being. So, don’t say you’ll get blue balls just because you want your partner to suck you off, that’s not cool!

Of course, feel free to email me or reach out in any way! I would love to discuss any and all topics.

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