This was adapted from “10 Things Men Can do to Prevent Gender Violence”, produced by MVP Strategies, Copyright 1999, Jackson Katz.
(T/W for discussion of both good and bad consent practices)
… A participant doesn’t necessarily need to label a particular sexual encounter as assault or rape to feel like that encounter was shitty or could have been better (although if they want to or they feel like that’s what happened, then yeah, that’s entirely their prerogative to do so).
This is my attempt at outlining what those conversations about consent need to look like for me. This general structure can be used from any contact along the spectrum from cuddling to fucking. I think these questions are pretty similar to the consent questions from Support Zine, but while those are really great for figuring out how you as an individual think about and practice consent, these following questions are a tool for me to figure out with a partner how we as partners want to practice consent.
While asking your partner if they want you to do such-and-such an act as you go along is a good start, I don’t think it’s enough to really make sure that everyone involved is indeed having a good time. Here are the things I like to talk about before gettin’ down with anyone:
- What kinds of things are you into? This is where I list all of the things I’d be interested in doing with a partner. This needs to be done with the understanding that you’re just letting the other person know what you’re open to doing, but those things are only going to happen if they’re also stoked on those things too. I like to think of this part as making a verbal “venn diagram” - we both throw out all the stuff we’re into, then we see where those interests intersect.
- What kinds of things are you not interested in doing?
- Are those boundaries just for this particular encounter, or is that something you might be open to doing in the future, with further discussion?
- What parts of your body can I touch, and what do you want me to call those body parts?
- Do you want me to ask each time I want to touch those body parts, or would you rather just give (or not give) consent once at the beginning?
- What should I do to avoid triggering you? What are your triggers?
- What signs should I look for to indicate you’ve been triggered?
- What do you want me to do if I think you’ve been triggered or you tell me you’ve been triggered?
- How do you want me to practice consent with you? How do you want to practice consent with me?
- How do you want me to check in with you, and how frequently?
- Do you have a tendency to automatically say yes to things without giving yourself a chance to think it over?
- Do you have a hard time saying no?
- How can I create an an environment where you feel safe and like your decisions will be respected?
- What kinds of things should I look for that would indicate you’re not having a good time?
- What’s your STI status?
- When was the last time you were tested? What, specifically, were you tested for? What were the results of those tests?
- What kind of sexual contact have you had since you were last tested?
- What was the STI status of the people you’ve had sexual contact with since the last time you were tested (if you know)?
- What STI-prevention measures did/do you take (if any were needed) with those people?
- How do you want to practice STI- and pregnancy- (if applicable) prevention with me?
I’m sure I’m forgetting things that should go on this list. I’m interested in hearing from y’all - how do you practice consent? How can we continue to improve our consent practices?
File Under: How to Prevent Rape Culture.
I really like all the consent practice questions above. Asking these sorts of questions really, truly, creates opportunities for clarifying needs, boundaries, desires and intentions — something that would be hard to gauge without asking about it (assumptions are pretty careless)!
Asking these kinds of things, having a genuine desire for the answers to these unknowns, is so fucking paramount to this. It’s really important that we aren’t just asking away to expedite the process of getting down someone’s pants. Furthermore, if you take these answers, and then choose to ignore them after you have received the answers, that is extremely violating.
Something that I would like to point out is that taking the time to understand our selves, how we might Answer these questions, is oftentimes what makes up wholesome, cohesive consent: Learning how to say No is important — Learning how to accept No is not merely an assert, it’s a fucking required!
That said, “No”, and other signs of lack of consent (e.g. anything but Yes) need to be present. Saying “Yes”, or providing other affirmations, when you don’t mean it is extremely dangerous!
Finally, I want to mention that for some people, sitting down and hearing these questions one after the next like this can be intimidating and feel like interrogation. We must each learn how to incorporate consideration for these things into daily interactions with partners and friends. There may be some for whom answering these questions all at once feels really good. Allowing these questions to become concerns we care about all the time (rather than right before sex, for example) is going to make sure the answers come fluidly and naturally.
I am super into discussing more about this.