This year my new years resolution is to actively practice good consent. (Here's my working definition of consent: making sure it's alright before/during/after you initiate physical or sexual contact.) I didn't hear about consent
until I started college a few years ago, but once I did it started
changing how I looked at my own sexuality and how I have sex. In fact,
it's still changing. I think that there's a lot of responsibility that
goes into practicing good consent. Not
only does it involve being aware of your partner, but it also involves
being aware of yourself, looking at your past, examining how it affects
you now, and thinking about how you want your sexual future to be. As
Cindy Crabb says, "learning our boundaries is a life long process". For
many of us, it also means changing the ways that we have sex and
unlearning what we're taught sex is supposed to be like.
And I also think consent
is important outside of the bedroom. Here's a recent example: I was in
a really bad mood. I was surprised steam wasn't coming out of my ears
(that kind of frustrating and angry bad mood). My housemate came up to
me and asked if he could support me by patting my back or something
like that. And I told him no. It was much more supportive and relieving
to have him ask me then for him to freak me out by touching me, know
what I mean?
In the 'bedroom' (or tent as was the case), the first time that a partner of mine actively and persistently sought verbal consent
from me, I was blown away. (I was also at a queer gathering in central
Tennessee.) It was not only hott and fun, but it made me feel
safer. This experience also made me realize that I was relying on my
partners to ask me if something is ok, and not often enough was I the
one asking the questions. So I identified one way that I could work on
practicing good consent, and I'm still working on it.
I'll admit though, I started my new years resolution early. This week I started reading a new zine that's hot off the presses: Learning Good Consent. It
has really revved me up for the new year. There are submissions from
people and organizations all over the country with folks giving advice,
telling about their experiences, and saying really honestly "I have
never been able to figure out a way to talk comfortably about consent" and then trying to do it anyway. Whether you've been practicing consent
since your five-year-old self asked that cutie on the playground if
they wanted to hold hands, or you don't think you know much about it at
all, I *strongly* urge you to check this out.
Also, I can't wait to get my hands on Yes Means Yes: Visions of Female Sexual Power and A World Without Rape, edited by
Jaclyn Friedman and Jessica Valenti. The articles just make me think:
pro-sex, fat-positive, anti-racist, queer-lib, youth-lib amazingness!
yeah. I'm excited about my consent process. Thus far it's done me
nothing but good, and I can't wait to keep working on it over the next
year (and rest of my life). If you're still not sure what your new years
resolution is, I don't mind sharing!
cross-posted from Amplify Your Voice.