On the face of it, consent should be simple. Yes means yes, and no means no. We clearly communicate exactly what we feel and it is immediately understood and acted on by others. However, real life is often more complicated - and our consent skills may be impaired for any number of reasons:
Being brought up as a ‘good boy or girl’, to over-ride our own needs and desires
Our own privilege, or lack of it, may affect our expectations of what is or isn't reasonable to expect from life in general, and connections with others in particular.
We may be embarrassed about stating our desires or boundaries in a sexual or intimate context.
Sometimes we may be emotionally triggered, and temporarily disconnected from our truth.
Power imbalance can make authentic consent more difficult or even impossible to achieve.
We may not have been taught any of the best consent skills available.
That's why the Art of Consent exists! We are based in Oxford, and most workshops take place within the UK.
Not always as simple as "a cup of tea"
The well-known 'cup of tea' analogy for consent is helpful as far as it goes but misses many of the complexities surrounding consent. There can't be many amongst us who feel the emotional and physical impact of sex is no greater than the decision to drink a cup of tea! Besides which, what do we even mean by 'sex'? Whole books have been written on the subject. The truth is that many of us struggle to fully communicate our desires, or clearly state our boundaries, or take full ownership of our own capacity for pleasure and intimacy. In our workshops we aim to help you with all of this, and more. Consent is about so much more than simply saying 'yes' or 'no'...
The Wheel of Consent
In many situations it's important to discuss not just what we might be doing but why we might be doing it: who is it for? Betty Martin's ground-breaking Wheel of Consent helps us get to grips with this 'next level down'. We can practice experiencing each of the Wheel's four quadrants, discovering which of them feel comfortable and which feel unfamiliar, enabling us to clarify our desires and shining a light on our blind-spots. We see how our conditioning might close down or distort our expression of these qualities, and use the Wheel as a practice to open them up again. See Betty's School of Consent for full details.
(below: a simplified image of the Wheel of Consent)
Consent and #metoo
Consent skills are essential in all areas of life, and most particularly in intimate or sexual interactions, because of the seriousness of getting it wrong in that context. The #metoo movement has hugely raised awareness of the importance of consent, and the widespread instances where it has been ignored, over-ridden or misunderstood.
We can all make a difference by ensuring that our own consent skills are the best they can be.
And taking consent seriously doesn't mean it has to be dull, or mechanical. Far from it. Learning and enhancing our consent skills can be fun, playful, fascinating and deeply moving. Find out more.
Our workshops last anything from 1 hour to 3 days. Please contact us to find out more