What makes Consent Beyond Yes different from other trainings I could do?
Here are some aspects of our model that we think are relatively unique:
- Focusing on the ways consent can make sex better and relationships stronger
- Orienting toward desire and pleasure instead of boundaries and fear
- Collaborating toward mutual pleasure instead of focusing on just one person’s desires
- Using embodiment to improve self-awareness, presence, and communication
- Acknowledging and providing tools to navigate the gray areas between “OMG yes,” “Okay, I guess,” and “Get the #$!% off me!”
- Including both verbal and nonverbal communication
- Incorporating modern neuroscience and sexuality research
- Addressing ways trauma responses can show up and how to respond when they do
- Discussing social justice aspects of consent, such as impacts of privilege and marginalization, and handling violations with a transformative justice lens
Isn’t the point of consent education to prevent rape? Why the focus on pleasure?
First of all, there is a whole spectrum of sexual experiences, not just a binary of consent and rape. By aiming for awesome sex, we create a buffer of mediocre sex before we get to assault. Also, it works better to focus on what you want than on what you don’t. We think focusing on mutual pleasure creates greater teamwork, which in turn makes assault much less likely and equips people to work through accidental violations. Plus, it’s more fun — and therefore it’s more likely people will actually use it.
I’m single. Is this relevant for me?
Yes! Consent Beyond Yes can help you identify what you most want and build skills for communicating with others, whether in romantic relationships, hook-ups, friendships, work, or other relationships. If you might start a new sexual/romantic relationship in the future, learning these skills now could help you establish norms of mutual pleasure and open communication from the beginning. Even if you don’t anticipate using these skills in relationships, having tools to identify your desires can help you live more authentically in any aspect of your life!
I already have one or more long-term partners. Is this relevant for me?
Yes! Consent Beyond Yes is about identifying what you want, understanding what your partner wants, and discovering new levels of mutual enjoyment. In short, we’ll help you have better sex! Our workshops also equip you with skills for better communication, deeper trust, and greater self-knowledge. As a bonus, you’ll be able to apply these tools to other types of relationships as well.
Is this an evidence-based model?
We built this model on a combination of research in neuroscience, sexuality, communication, and trauma; principles of somatic counseling; established consent practices; and our own experiences and experimentation in relationships. We think we have solid theoretical grounding, and we have gotten excellent feedback from those who have taken our workshops, but so far there hasn’t been academic study of the impact of this model. Contact us if you want to run the pilot study!
I hold a marginalized gender, sexual, or relationship identity. Will I feel safe and included?
We welcome and celebrate all gender identities, sexual orientations, kinks, and ethical relationship choices. In fact, we ourselves hold some non-normative identities. We are committed to holding space in ways that challenge oppression. If there is a way we could help you feel even more welcome, please let us know!
Okay, but I identify as asexual. Will I really feel included?
Feedback we have gotten from participants who identified themselves to us as asexual has been that there is plenty of room in our model for asexuality. This is about what gives you and your partner(s) mutual pleasure, whether or not those activities are traditionally construed as sexual. Whether you want lots of sex with little connection, lots of connection with little sex, lots of both, neither, or only in certain ways, Consent Beyond Yes is about helping you identify and express your desires so you and your partner(s) can create mutually satisfying interactions.
It sounds like you have a liberal bias. Are your workshops and presentations accessible to people with conservative values?
We believe everyone deserves positive sexual experiences, whatever that means for them. Our goal is to help people identify what makes sex good for them, communicate with their partners, and negotiate mutually satisfying experiences. Whatever you believe the purpose of sex is and however you choose to structure your relationships, research indicates that strong communication builds strong relationships, and sexual satisfaction is linked to overall life satisfaction and well-being.
The language we use in our work (e.g. ‘partners,’ gender-neutral pronouns) is intended to be inclusive of everyone, including people with conservative values — we aim for language that is as widely applicable as possible. Whether you are conservative, liberal, apolitical, or anything else, we believe you deserve respect for your bodily autonomy and access to your ability to feel pleasure. If you want to ask about our choice of words or examples, or to share your experience with us, please do!
Do you address how disability impacts sexuality?
Disability and sexuality is an entire field neither of us is expert in, but our approach to consent is highly individualized and relational. We encourage curiosity and communication about anything relevant to your sexual experience, including impact of disability, illness, injury, dysphoria, emotional states, etc. We crafted Consent Beyond Yes with principles of universal design in mind, which we hope means there is room for disability without singling it out. Please let us know if we could do better!
Does Consent Beyond Yes apply to nonsexual situations?
We’re so glad you asked! Absolutely — Consent Beyond Yes can be applied to virtually any interpersonal situation. Our strategies for discerning what you want are even useful when you’re by yourself! Have you ever felt stuck in a conversation or received help from someone who really didn’t seem like they wanted to help? Consent Beyond Yes provides a framework for understanding how these situations happen and tools for preventing or navigating them. If you are interested in a workshop or presentation on consent that is not specifically sexual, please contact us and let us know what you’re looking for!