TOUCH CONSENT GUIDE!
The consent minizine is finished! You can read the full guide in the images or scroll down to see the transcribed text.
If you want copies of this mini consent guide to help spread consent culture or to hand to people who unconsensually touch you, go to my Etsy shop. Often it can be difficult to speak up in the moment of being unconsensually touched, so having a pocket sized guide to silently hand to people is useful. I've made a variety of covers printed on durable card stock as well as a cheaper set printed on black and white copy paper.
Check it out!
*** Introduction ***
Would you want to have food shoved into your mouth even though you didn't want to eat and never asked to be fed? Would you want a stranger to enter your home and start rearranging your possessions? Would you want someone to start cutting your hair without your permission?
In a similar way, many people strongly dislike being touched without first agreeing, or consenting, to be touched. Consent is a great way of ensuring that a hug, kiss, conversation, or really any desire that one person has involving another person will be enjoyed by both parties. This is especially true for strangers but is also applicable to lovers, acquaintances, friends, and even (your) children.
*** Why Consent? ***
Using consent helps prevent you from being considered unsafe in your community, making people feel uncomfortable, creating a really awkward situation, or being jailed for sexual assault. At the same time consent increases the likelihood of people agreeing with whatever it is you are seeking and that thing happening again in the future. It also helps people feel respected as human beings because you care about their feelings.
Do you want copies of this mini consent guide to help spread consent culture or to hand to people who unconsensually touch you? Find color copies printed on durable card stock for sale with various covers at www.etsy.com/shop/radcatpress and use coupon code HAPPYHEALTHY for 10% off your order.
*** How To Use Consent ***
1) Ask for a specific thing but ensure that NO is a viable option for the person. “Mind if I join you?” “Can I hold your hand?” “Can I take off your ______?” “Would _____ feel nice?”
2) Wait for an enthusiastic and verbal YES, for the person to do what you asked for, or look for signs of a NO. NO can take the form of silence, a displeased or stressed facial expression, a vocal “no,” a “maybe,” or even a half-hearted “yeah...” Be very careful about seeking sexual consent from someone you know to be intoxicated – you shouldn't have sex if there is any doubt in their interest or ability to form rational decisions.
3) If you receive a verbal or nonverbal NO, don't press for what you asked about any further. Continue conversing with the person as you were or exit the conversation. Receiving a NO can be a great way to learn more about the other person and what they really like.
4) If you receive some form of a reluctant or unenthusiastic YES, check-in; “you don't actually seem too stoked about that, is there something else that you're more interested in?”
5) If you receive a yes, read non-verbal cues. For example, with a hug, is that person hugging you tightly or keeping some distance? Reciprocate their level of intimacy and check-in if needed.
6) Go through this process for every new thing you want. For instance if you initially asked for a hug and now want a kiss, you must ask if a kiss is okay. Check-in with a periodic, “is this okay?”
7) Consent is an active process with all people. Even in a relationship where you may have gained semi-permanent consent over an action, your partner may not always want touch, so it is important to read non-verbal cues and actively look and listen for consent.
*** Mastering Consent ***
Consent is a skill that takes time to master on both sides. Many people were raised from childhood forced to be compliant with all touch, even when they did not want it, and so saying NO, or otherwise rejecting touch can be quite difficult. On the other hand, you may need to practice withholding actions made from emotional desires and first consult your rational mind in order to form your emotions into a question of consent and read non-verbal cues. Some argue that verbalizing their emotions is awkward or destroys the mood, but there are many things you can say which are quite sexy, and saying something a little goofy is much friendlier and sexier than doing something unconsensual. You may also need to practice receiving a NO and understand it is a great way to respect a person's needs.
There are a number of gray areas in consent culture that vary in people's stances. These include: some cultures involve touch as part of their basic traditions; asking for consent a second (or more) time in the same conversation and receiving a YES when you had originally received a NO; using light, short, non-sexual touches without consent while engaging with a person who is obviously enjoying your company; seeking sexual consent from a person who has been drinking or is otherwise intoxicated; being given an enthusiastic and non-verbal YES but not a verbal and enthusiastic YES.
With situations like these, just use your best judgment, check-in, and make sure you are both enjoying yourselves. When in doubt, hold off on the activity with the person until receiving clear consent. Everyone needs human connection and touch, you just have to find the people who want to share it with you and how to ask them for it.
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Hi! My name is Sage Liskey, the founder of the Rad Cat Press. I grew up seeing a lot of the disturbing, toxic, and unhealthy sides of American culture, and decided I wanted to do something to change it. Since 2010 I have been writing books and zines (booklets) focused around uplifting lives and reimagining society, with a primary focus in mental health and empowerment. I believe a better world is possible, so I hope you feel inspired and a little more fulfilled from what you find here. Read on about my mission.
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