The following notes came out of a discussion on radical consent held as part of the regular anarcha-feminist “DIY Discsussions” event.
DIY Discussions: radical consent write-up ( part 1)
We started by coming up with some guidelines for making the discussion safe and useful:
Start with a name and preferred gender pronoun go-round Look after yourself, look after others – make yourself available but don’t push, people might not want to discuss things raised in this space further or at another time
Be willing to reflect on your own behaviour – if you are called out on something, think about why that is Non-aggressive behaviour
aware of whose story you are telling – do you have permission to tell someone elses story? If unsure, don’t
Ask before sharing personal stories/talking about potentially triggering things – create a consensual atmosphere
Don’t make assumptions about people’s gender, sexuality, sexual history
Assume that everyone is a survivor
We then split into three smaller groups to define and discuss consent/radical consent and what it means to us. I’ve tried go collate the notes from the three groups:
What is radical consent?
“Radical simply means grasping things at the root.” ~Angela Davis.
Tool against sexual violence (in a culture where sexual violence is common)
Asking permission mutually!
Agreement between people
Difference between societal ideas of consent (or contract) and personal
level of comfort at any point
Base level consent is often not existing in society so radical consent can
Can feel like a far off ideal
Can be broader than just sexual boundaries. Can have boundaries in platonic relationships. Not just useful in sexual context.
Communication is key – in all directions. Good to ask questions, be active. It’s really good to get used to expressing desires and needs as
well as saying yes/no.
It can be helpful to redefine language in sexual situations – clarifying what words people want to use for body parts or sexual acts – gives you a base for communication.
Spoken/non-verbal communication (e.g. body language) – misconception that spoken is more valid than non-verbal. Neither is foolproof on its own.
It’s good to be clear about expectations before sex happens. What kind of relationship do you want?
Being up for redefining the boundaries of any relationship at any time.
When and what setting is the best to start having these discussions with new partners?
Ongoing process/continual – (though if someone says yes it might later become a no, but if someone says no this should be taken as a no)
Allow people to change their mind – consent once is not consent everytime.
Can gain consent for something in the future – needs to be an understanding of how long that lasts.
Can more easily be conceived of in established and trusted relationships – has to be actively established.
Can be really hard
Can be embarrassing, working to get past this. ‘Consent is sexy’ is a nice slogan but not always true.
In relationships between people with radical ideas can be assumed that you have radical consent.
Can be difficult to have these discussions because assumed that everyone is already good at it and makes you feel crap
Lots of different power dynamics can affect peoples ability to negotiate consent. e.g. economic hierarchy.
Pre-conceived ideas or assumptions about who it’s appropriate to give/receive consent from – gender identity, married/single.
Consent can be coerced.