Consent Beyond Yes

When we (Fuzzy and Emma) met in 2017, both of us were already self-identified consent geeks and had begun teaching in small ways, but neither was sure how to move forward with our desire to improve consent education. Both of us were dissatisfied with the guidelines of affirmative consent (“yes means yes”), despite being aligned with its goals. We wanted a way of practicing consent that was based in how people really communicate, brought people into more authentic relationship, and acknowledged the fact that sometimes it’s really hard to locate the line between consent and sexual assault. Most of all, we wanted a model of consent that empowered people instead of making them afraid of doing it wrong!

The kernel of Consent Beyond Yes was conceived in our very first conversation, with the realization that the standard consent question — “Is this okay?” — was very likely to lead to sex that was, well, okay. We quickly began challenging and inspiring each other to come up with ways to practice consent that would make sex sexier. We learned from each other about different ways of communicating, and we learned from our own consent failures. We constantly looked for ways to identify what we most wanted, to focus on mutual desires, and to be easier to say no to, in both sexual and non-sexual situations.

As Consent Beyond Yes developed, we tried our new strategies in our own relationships and talked with friends and got their feedback. We kept reading about consent and attended consent workshops led by other people. Once we were fairly certain our desire-oriented, relational, trauma-informed, social justice-minded model was unique, we began teaching, and the feedback has been phenomenal! We’re so excited to be sharing this work, and we look forward to its continued evolution.

                                                               In empowerment and solidarity,