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.
Our Values in Practice
At Consent Beyond Yes, we strive to have our business practices align with what we teach. We are a worker co-op, which means we share equally in ownership and decision-making and are guided by the well-being and passion of our workers, not by profit. Right now our only workers are Fuzzy and Emma, but if and when more people join us, they will have the opportunity to own a share of the business and have an equal voice in decision-making. Structuring ourselves as a worker co-op ensures we treat each other and any future employees fairly and encourages us to stay deeply engaged and creative with our work. We are also committed to relating to each other with transparency, integrity, and a goal of mutual benefit so we can model what we teach and keep personal matters from interfering with our work.
Just as we aim to practice mutuality and social justice within our organization, we also strive to uphold those values in interacting with our clients. All our services are offered on a sliding scale, because we want our work to be accessible and we want to support anyone trying to build consent culture. That said, our work also has to be sustainable for us. The pricing we suggest to large institutions like universities and for-profit corporations is typical for speakers at such venues and reflects the hundreds of hours it took to develop this material and the unique value we offer. Working with organizations and individuals from a wide budgetary range allows us to share our ideas broadly and earn enough money to keep going.