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Welcome to #AskCam, a column where sex and intersectionality are not divided but welcomed together.

Dear Cam,  I've been dating for a few months, and there's one person in particular that I've been really into. Our dates have been fantastic, but I'm ready for something more. When is the right time to move to getting physical with someone new? -Taking The Plunge Dear Taking The Plunge, For many of us who date and have sexual experiences, this is a frequently asked and pondered question. In monogamous culture, there's an assumption that there's a timeline that folks need to hit to ensure that the relationship is "on the right path"; at certain times, we're expected to date, kiss, become exclusive, and everything after. There's an expectation that everyone who dates has the same goal of falling in love, getting married, having children, and living happily ever after – there's nothing at all wrong with these things – but isn't it kind of fucked up to assume that everyone will want these exact things, in that exact order? Whether you're monogamous or not, there's no escaping the cultural pressure to subscribe to this kind of dating and relationship model. The first part in my response to you, TTP, is something that you might already know but is worth reiterating: you don't have to hit a timeline or do things by a certain time for them to be valid. Every relationship – romantic, platonic, monogamous, non-monogamous, and everything in between – evolves at its own pace, and placing a one-size-fits-all model to how relationships should look does a disservice to our individuality and places unnecessary pressure on the folks in that relationship.

Welcome to #AskCam, a column where sex and intersectionality are not divided but welcomed together.

  Dear Cam, How exactly do I address consent in casual relationship settings? If I'm in a longer-standing relationship, I'm not embarrassed or ashamed to talk about literally any topic....but if I go on one date with someone and I'm not vibing them then they kiss me or grope me or touch me in some way that my body is adverse, I get uncomfortable and can't find the words to defend myself in the moment. Sometimes it's because I shut down, other times I just prefer the out that I can ghost them and use that as a way to avoid the in-person confrontation. If I don't know the person at all, I'm fine. You creep on me at the bar or catcall me I'm telling you to your face to not sexually harass me, but it's this weird in between where I almost feel a sense of either guilt, or obligation, or fear that clouds my ability to speak out. -Casual Consent   Dear Casual Consent, I think your question is an increasingly important one. There's so much conversation lately about the ways that desirability, consent, and autonomy spill over into our everyday (*ahem* sexual) lives, and I think that we don't really allow much space for navigating these things in ways that are free of confusion and awkwardness. When I first read your letter, I immediately thought that this wasn't so much a question of consent itself – you already seem to have a firm grasp on that – to me, your question speaks more about boundaries. Boundaries are a tricky thing in itself – for women and people who have been conditioned and socialized as femme folks, we've been brought up with this idea that other people's needs should come before our own. Empathy and compassion for others are admirable traits, but because conversations about autonomy and boundaries weren't accompanied, the message that most of us received was that what we want and need aren't as important as our partner's wants and needs, whether they identify as cis-het men or not.

Ask Cam is not going to be a sexuality column that you're used to - it is a space where sex and intersectionality are not divided but welcomed together.

As intersectionality becomes more of a buzzword and an opportunity for mainstream (*ahem* white feminism) to co-opt Black-specific labor, I can't help but see similarities between social justice activism and how we explore, talk about, and navigate issues of sexuality. I've written before about how sexuality affects how we view our identities and navigate the larger world. But in my time exploring how social justice affects marginalized people, I find that we rarely have space to talk about how sexuality plays into all of this. And not just the basics of the act of sex - the where, how, or how long? How does social justice and intersectional spaces make space for us to navigate the nuances of this, the cracks of sexuality where identity, internalized oppression, and individual awkwardness spill together to create something new?

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