What do different consent educators have to say about consent? We've compiled some of their most insightful comments:
“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 (Ask:Building Consent Culture)
"The first step of consent is tuning into your own desire, being able to feel a distinct yes or no in your system." - adrienne marie brown (Pleasure Activism)
“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.” – Akilay S. Richards (Ask: Building Consent Culture)
“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 (Creating Consent Culture).
"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 Collective)
“Consent can be practised anywhere: in relationships, in families, in communities – anywhere we think we can do better than violence and coercion.” – Laurie Penny (Ask: Building Consent Culture)
"If we focused on teaching consent and boundaries instead of trying to scare people away from the most common and natural activity of our species I think we cold make major headway in our effort to turn our collective story from #metoo and #itwasme into #notme and even #weconsentedanditwasdelicious." - adrienne marie brown (Pleasure Activism)
“We envision a world where people can speak up for what they want and what they don’t want – starting with touch, extending to community life and all the way to international politics.” – School of Consent website
“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 (Creating Consent Culture).
“All manner of oppressive behaviour is predicated on ignoring consent.” – Carol Queen (Ask: Building Consent Culture
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 (We Will Not Cancel Us - And Other Dreams of Transformative Justice)
“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 (Sexual Consent)
“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 (Ask: Building Consent Culture)
"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 marie brown (Pleasure Activism)
"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, Sex and Relationships Educator
“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 (Ask: Building Consent Culture)
"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 (We Will Not Cancel Us - And Other Dreams of Transformative Justice)
"Authentic consent can be enthusiastic. It can also be optimistically awkward, a means to an end, or entirely transactional." - Nadine Thornhill, Sex Educator
"You don't give consent, you arrive at consent - together." - Betty Martin (Wheel of Consent)
“One of the most common misconceptions about consent is that it’s about getting permission. While permission is a part of consent, a permission based model is limited in that it doesn’t create space for more than one person’s desire or wanting. There are a whole range of experiences that are more interesting and satisfying when they are created collaboratively.”- Marcia Baczynski (Creating Consent Culture).
"Being good at consent means being good at pleasure" - Nina Burrows (Consent Collective)
"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 (Pleasure Activism)
"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 (the Wheel of Consent)
"To ignore pleasure in any aspect of sexual health promotion programming is to present a conceptualization of sexuality and sexual health that is not real and will not connect with people to meaningfully addresses their needs, aspirations, desires and concerns." (World Association for Sexual Health, 2008)
“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 (Sexual Consent)
"The question is not: Why don't I want this? the question is: What do I want?" - Betty Martin (Wheel of Consent)
“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 (Ask: Building Consent Culture)
“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 (Ask: Building Consent Culture)
“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 (Creating Consent Culture).
“I was always ashamed to take. So I gave. It was not a virtue. It was a disguise.” – Anais Nin
"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 (the Wheel of Consent)
“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 (Sexual Consent)
“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 (Wheel of Consent)
"With the increased recognition of sexual abuse and harassment, the pleasurable aspects of consensual sexual activity should not get lost in necessary prevention efforts." - Coleman et al, International Journal of Sexual Health, 2021
“Fighting rape culture is exhausting and hard, but creating consent culture is fun and exhilarating.” - Marcia Baczynski (Creating Consent Culture).
"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 (the Wheel of Consent)
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