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I remember when I first heard about verbal consent. I was 22 years old and it was all over the news that Antioch college had passes a sexual assault prevention policy that said you had to ask before each new stage of making out, and that you had to get verbal consent.
In much of the media, it was attacked as some kind of uptight, feminist takeover, but for me and a lot of people, it was the beginning of being able to envision and work toward a more healthy sexuality.
Even though I wished other people would take the initiative and ask me for consent, there was something really empowering and sexy and sweet about constantly asking them ‘is this ok?’, ‘do you want me to do this?’
Sometimes it helped me to realize I wasn’t the only one who was scared or unsure. Sometimes checking in with them helped me to check with myself.
For the most part, I didn’t know what my own boundaries were and I think learning our boundaries is a life long process. We can do some figuring out on our own, but not all of it. and it changes.
And I think it is so very essential that we honor whatever ways we have survived. And that we honor the ways we are surviving now.
Hearing people talk about their own experiences with consent helps me feel less crazy and less alone. It gives me hope that we will be able to change the world we live in - that we will be able to change what gets taken for granted, and how we see and understand each other.
Things have already changed. I think it is important to remember this. From the founding of the first rape crisis center, the first feminist woman’s health center, the first workshop on consent, the forming of groups like Men Can Stop Rape, Sister Song, Philly’s Pissed, Generation 5- these and all the books and zines and conversations and art shows and speakouts and songs and friendships, they are all changing things. I can see it, even when there is so much still.
Talking about our experiences with consent, our struggles, our mistakes, and how we’ve learned, these are part of a much larger revolutionary struggle. I feel lucky to have been asked to compile this zine and am amazed by the bravery of the contributors.
And I am amazed by your bravery too. Yes, you. In a world which asks us not to care too deeply or question too closely, it is brave to be here with this.
DATE RAPE = NOT UNDERSTANDING NO