How safe can it be when the consequences are unpredictable?
If it is a recreation constantly being refined with the risk pared away, it raises the question: I it being refined in a way that makes it better or worse?
(I think worse. How do you lose the life-creating aspect of sex without losing the joy of discovering deep commitment, fidelity, security, and love that comes when you find that your partner is still there through all of the post-sex, but connected to sex stuff. A sexual encounter with someone in the context of your shared experiences whether it be infertility or endured miscarriages, successful pregnancies, parenting, and awkward happenings. You have someone who looks at all you've gone through and says "Even in all this, I choose you and all of this".
Magdalen's comment is *so* good, thank you so much for bumping it! "Sex becomes... an agreement to hold hands and joyfully jump into some unknown adventure!" is such a delightful take.
I do think there's a slight misread of my comment re: the way discussions of consent's ambiguity fuel the general lack of consequences for rape. Only 20% of sexual assaults on campus happen between strangers, something like 40% are intimate partners and the rest are acquaintances. Societally, we've told the story again and again that women need to protect themselves from being raped by not drinking or drinking less, wearing clothes that are more modest, etc etc. Basically, the story goes, if a woman is ever interested in sexual activity, it's grounds for a man to be confused about whether she wants to engage in sexual activity with him, now. Even if she says no, even if she is incapacitated or unconscious. This dominant story means women are less likely to report rape, police aren't very good at handling rape cases and defense attorneys in several states can still pick apart a girl or woman's past sexual history to determine if she *wanted* to be raped.
This shield for perpetrators *is* the status quo. The status quo story *is* that women's consent is ambiguous and should be inferred from past behavior and signals like clothing, drinking, etc.