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What Consent Educators Say

 

What do other educators say about consent?

We've compiled some insightful quotes and comments

from leading writers and educators on consent.

 

 

Quotes from consent educators

"To reduce consent to something relevant only to sexual situations is to misunderstand the complexity of consent, its role and constancy in the everyday of our lives".

- Donna Freitas

"The first step of consent is tuning into your own desire, being able to feel a distinct yes or no in your system."

- adrienne maree brown

"There are five key skills at play here: saying what you want, saying yes, saying no, changing your mind, creating space for other people to do the same.”

- Marcia Baczynski

“In order to consent to something, we have to fully and profoundly know that we don’t ​have to do that thing, now or ever. This applies whether the thing in question is having sex with a partner, doing the task we’d set ourselves on a particular day, or hanging out with a friend.”  

- Meg-John Barker

"Being good at consent is about having an awareness of difference, thinking about power, and having an ability to have what might feel like vulnerable conversations."

- Nina Burrows

“Consent culture includes being aware of how systemic inequity and trauma affect people’s ability to form meaningful agreements.  In consent culture we ask more questions and assume less.”

- Marcia Baczynski

“Consent culture should start with children.  I believe one of the biggest mistakes we make as parents is in teaching children to ignore their personal boundaries.  At any age, we have feelings in our bellies and chests, for example, that are directly triggered by feelings of safety or lack thereof.”

– Akilah S. Richards

"It's really important to think about how acceptable or not acceptable it is to say a direct 'no' in our culture, even in non-sexual situations." 

- Hannah Witton

“Explicit consent negotiation is rarely shown in popular culture.   Most of the time all we see is an implied progression through the default sexual script.”

– Milena Popova

"The lack of queer visibility in popular culture makes it possible to approach consent in queer sexual encounters with fewer preconceptions."

- Rebecca Khan

“Perhaps the main shift we need to do is to make consent the ​aim of every interaction, encounter, relationship, or situation, instead of the more common aim of getting what we want and/or giving someone else what they want.”

- Meg-John Barker
 

“The most important thing to know about your sexuality is that it’s yours – completely and permanently.  You get to choose if, when, how and with whom to share it.  No one else has the right to choose for you.”

- Betty Martin

We won't end the systemic patterns of harm by isolating and picking off individuals... We need to flood the entire system with life-affirming principles and practices"

- adrienne maree brown

 

"Consent is increasingly understood as conditioned by social situations steeped in gender norms and power relations."

- Manon Garcia



"Unwanted sex is sex that an individual may not want but may consent to anyway.  Feeling under pressure to have sex - whether it's to maintain a relationship, or to be seen as the right kind of masculine, or for whatever other reason - is not compatible with ideas of consent and bodily autonomy."

- Milena Popova

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"For survivors of molestation and assault, it can be really difficult to get in touch with our own desires.  We can go along with things because we don't believe we have a choice, because we want to seem normal, because the depression of survival is isolating and touch can temporarily ease the loneliness, or because we have been misdirected into deep insecurity and think we should be lucky for sexual attention."

- adrienne maree brown

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"In a situation where we are confused about exactly what we want, but play along anyways despite a lingering doubt, we may implicate the other person in a violation of ourselves which they would surely have avoided had they been given more information."

- Emmi Bevensee

"A culture of consent is one in which people feel safe in their bodies and confident in asking for what they want."

- Marcia Baczynski


 

"We should feel confident that ethical, pleasurable, caring sexual encounters are truly possible, and that our wholeness and humanity doesn't depend on our having sex at all."

- Christine Emba

 

 

"We can talk about consent 'til we can’t talk any more, but without a way to teach people about consent, not just conceptually but in the body and in the voice, we won’t arrive at the consent culture we seek.”

- Carol Queen

“Someone who feels indebted to their partner, lucky to have them, in danger of losing them, is not delivering the same yes they would to an equal.

– Joellen Notte

"Consent needs to be grounded in a conversation between, if not equals, then people who aspire to be equals."

- Manon Garcia

"Many women go along with sex they don’t really like. Either because they are scared or because they are ashamed or because they are more focused on being desirable than on their own desire or because they don’t know what to say or because they don’t want to scare him off or because they feel they should want what he wants or because they have past sexual trauma or because there really isn’t much representation of straight sex freed from the shackles of restrictive gender roles."

- Clementine Morrigan

“Consent violations are so much easier to recognise as such when they’re inappropriate: rude, too sudden in a context of insufficient interpersonal connection, violent.  But they also happen when people are in love, in relationships, even in the mood.”

- Carol Queen

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"If my porous boundaries, my people pleasing tendencies, my unresolved trauma and quick stress responses, my lack of confidence and low self-esteem, my inability to speak up for myself, my poor communication skills keep getting me into situations where I’m being taken advantage of, used, manipulated, pushed around, and even violated or abused, I can keep cutting these people out of my life but ultimately I’m going to need to work on myself."

- Mia Schachter

 

 

"There are many unfortunate reasons why people are not able to effectively communicate during a sexual encounter, which can lead to unwanted, unfulfilling, and even sometimes, traumatic experiences, even when everyone is trying their best."

- Clementine Morrigan

"Sometimes it takes a long time for us to realize the harm that has happened to us.  And longer to realize we have caused harm to others."

- adrienne maree brown

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"Consent and trust go hand in hand.  To say yes to someone is also to communicate I trust you."

- Donna Freitas

"Being good at consent means being good at pleasure."

- Nina Burrows

"Consent is what we do so that we can have a really great time, and it is there to prevent us having a really bad time."

- Justin Hancock

"You don't get consent or give consent - you arrive at consent together."

- Betty Martin

“Enthusiastic consent is the start of a conversation, not the end of it.”

- Rupert James Alison


"We should feel confident that ethical, pleasurable, caring sexual encounters are truly possible, and that our wholeness and humanity doesn't depend on our having sex at all."

- Christine Emba

"Boundaries can make things more exciting, more beautiful, paradoxically more open to the possibility of something better and as yet unimagined."

- Mia Schachter


"If you want the full potential of the gorgeous, messy, scary, promising, rich tapestry of who you are as a sexual being, you need access to all four quadrants of the Wheel of Consent."

- Betty Martin

"Touch yourself early and often.

Learn your body before you share your body.

Let yes come from every part of you, before you share you."

- adrienne maree brown

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“Our society has a lot of dominant ideas about sexuality, many or all of which we internalize, and which then shape our choices and actions”

- Milena Popova

 

"If two people consent to sex, but they don't know what they each mean by 'sex', then they haven't consented to anything.

- Rupert James Alison


“Going with the flow is not consent.  Trying to be unobtrusive is not consent. Being afraid to bother anyone with your problems is not consent.”

– Joellen Notte

 

“People say yes in the moment for a myriad of reasons – because they mean it, because they mean it at the time, because they’re afraid of the consequences of saying no, because they’ve experienced trauma and saying yes makes them feel like they have some control over the situation because they don’t think their no will be heard.”

- Kitty Stryker

 

"The historic legacies of the ways people have been politically dehumanised — for their gender, orientation, ethnicity, religion, and more — directly impacts each person on a highly personal level. And this can show up in our relationships."

- Mel Cassidy

"We cannot usefully think about consent outside of the social situation of the partners and outside of the power dynamics at play.  This means that the more powerful person in the dynamic - often the man in a heterosexual context, but not always, is the one with primary responsibility for building consent."

- Manon Garcia

"What my practice of consent has taught me is that if I have agency, choice and power, I also have a responsibility to exercise it to create more agency, choice and power for those with fewer choices."

- Carmen Leilani

“In every aspect of life, we learn that displeasing those in positions of authority can have dire consequences.  There are power differentials everywhere that set the stage for consent violations, both conscious and unconscious.”

- Marcia Baczynski

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“When we move away from looking at consent as something that happens between individuals in a specific situation and start looking at it as something enmeshed in social structures, cultural practices, and complex operations of power, the radical potential of the idea of consent becomes really clear. This version of consent allows us to ask much bigger questions than who said yes and who said no. It allows us to start exploring the social and cultural forces that shape the options we have, how we see ourselves, how we are seen by others, right down to our very desires. It allows us to ask what the conditions are that we need to create for consent to be truly free, and truly meaningful.” 

- Milena Popova

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"Our sexual preferences can and do alter.  Desire can take us by surprise, leading us somewhere we hadn't imagined we would ever go, or towards someone we never thought we would lust after, or love.  In the very best cases... desire can cut against what politics has chosen for us, and choose for itself."

- Amia Srinivasan

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"The moral question of what is positively good sex tends to go missing from debates about consent, which overwhelmingly focus on preventing bad sex."

- Manon Garcia

"Learning to receive the gifts of others cracks our heart open, and as we do that, we learn to be clear about what we actually want.  This has implications far beyond touch."

- Betty Martin

"Is consent sexy?  Yes!  Consent relaxes my nervous system.  And that relaxation allows me to open up and receive.  And it allows me to give, creatively and generously."

-  Mia Shachter

 

 

"Consent is so much more than a buzzword. It's a way of life that prevents and heals trauma beyond anything else."

- Wilrieke Sophia​​

 

 

"The Stoic Epictetus wrote to his students: 'When you receive an invitation to pleasure... pause'.  We need to reclaim this pause."

- Christine Emba
 

 

“Fighting rape culture is exhausting and hard, but creating consent culture is fun and exhilarating.”

- Marcia Baczynski

"With this practice, you come to see that consent must be the basis of civilization... You get it in your bones and you cannot ignore it any more."

- Betty Martin

Art of Consent resources

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Art of Consent resources

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