Consent Advocacy

What is consent?

Consent is about seeking agreement and giving permission for something to happen. Consent is at the heart of all healthy relationships: both at the heart of our own relationship with ourselves, and at the heart of the relationships we engage in with others.

Consent is acutely important in sexual relationships and needs to be clearly sought and expressed by all parties involved. A sexual relationship without consent is rape.

However, consent is not just relevant around sex and it comes into all of our relationships – whether we want to talk to someone, to enter their tent, or to give them a hug. Read on for more info about how it can transform your relationship with others around you, as well as your community and society…

Consent, you and others

At the personal level, it demands from each of us a willingness to foster awareness of our individual desires and wants, and the discipline to systematically check that these meet our personal needs and values. 

At the interpersonal level, it requires the discipline to systematically check that our own desires and wants are equally met by the needs and wishes of those we engage with. 

Consent opens pathways to intimacy and pleasure. It also supports a healthy and connected life, and allows us to practice living in a way that brings joy and authenticity. 

With other people, practicing consent means seeking a “yes” or a “no” from the people we desire to engage with sexually, and saying “yes” or “no” to the requests that people make of us, including intimate sharing, touching and sexual pleasuring. 

When it comes to sharing our bodies, consent requires enthusiasm – and explicit agreement.

Consent in community and society

At a societal scale, the UN Declaration of the Rights for Indigenous Peoples states the principle of “free, prior and informed consent” being required for actions that would affect their lands and territories. 

How well we practice consent at the micro-scale in our daily lives also plays out at the macro-scale. Communities based on an extractivist mindset (such as mining, deforestation) correlate with higher levels of sexual assault: how we view and treat the land reflects how we treat other people. As such, an informed, environmental consciousness necessarily includes a deep understanding and practice of consent in our daily lives.

Sexual violence is still a part of the 21st century. It is increasingly connected today to “patriarchy,” which is a dominant system in society. Patriarchy gives prevalence and implicit or explicit ‘power’ to males over females. It also fosters ‘toxic masculinity’: dominant and abusive behaviours among men towards women. Toxic masculinity pervades and infects many of our relationships – often unconsciously. From birth, most of us are immersed in and taught patterns of living and relating that can easily result in carelessness, assault, or abuse. 

These actions and behaviours can cause immense amounts of suffering, pain and lifelong trauma. They often occur in the most intimate settings, and involve and hurt some of the most sensitive parts of us.

Statistically, people who are assigned male at birth are more likely to be perpetrators of sexual violence, and sexual violence is an issue that men and male-assigned-people need to pay particular attention to for this violence to be reduced. 

Sexual violence can take many forms, including assault (e.g. between adults), abuse (e.g. where there is a power imbalance), micro-aggressions, unwanted attention, and more. 

For the purpose of our collective liberation and healing, all of us need to unlearn the toxic patterns of behaviour that surround us, learn healthier ways of being and relating; and make “radical” consent a daily practice – whereby consent is a continuous and iterative process when relating. After all, consent is sexy!

What does the Consent Advocacy Circle do in XR?

The XR Consent Advocacy Circle works to cultivate and spread consent-based behaviours and language, as ways of being and relating that foster respectful interactions (including personal, conversational, physical, sexual, societal, global).

We attempt to reduce and prevent sexual violence within XR and XR spaces, by activities such as

  • Organising and running trainings and discussions
  • Training and coordinating “Consent Awareness” teams during gatherings, camps and other XR spaces to embody, model and promote a healthy consent culture
  • Distributing consent related art and fliers

We are a first point of call and assistance for anyone who has been affected by consent accidents or violations within XR spaces. We also support processes of accountability and change for those who face allegations of consent accidents or violations, and work to create and sustain increased safety in the XR community through clear and caring processes.

The Consent Advocacy Circle is a direct sub-circle of the XR UK Regenerative Culture Circle.

Help! Something uncomfortable or horrible has happened

First of all, try to get away from the person/people that you don’t feel safe around.

In some cases, you may wish to immediately call a crisis helpline.

Seek support! You may wish to reach out to people who are immediately around you, or you may wish to try to find a specific person/friend who you know will support you. Alternatively, head to an XR Wellbeing Hub and Regenerative Culture space/tent. 

Once you’ve found someone with whom you feel safer, let them know that you are in need of support. Only share with them what you want to share. They might offer to take you to a quieter, more private, or more supportive space, yet only go with them if that feels good for you – alternatively you may want the comfort of many people being around.

An XR Wellbeing person will hopefully be able to put you in touch with a person in the XR Consent Advocacy Circle. We will try to support you in the ways that you need and desire.

You can also reach us directly by emailing xr-consent@protonmail.ch 

Get Involved!

There are many ways to get involved in Consent Advocacy!

During blockade or camping periods we aim to have Consent Awareness Teams present and engaging with people on the streets and around the blockades. It’s fun and easy to take part. Read about the Consent Awareness Teams here. Training provided.

Sign up to join a Consent Awareness Team here!

We also aim to provide support for people who have been affected by consent violations or accidents, and those who have had allegations made about them, including to support their awareness of how they could be causing pain – which often happens unintentionally. These are sometimes called Survivor Support Teams and Accountability Teams, and both are very important to making XR spaces safer.

We meet weekly, generally online, so if you’d like to join the XR Consent Advocacy Team itself, get in touch to find out about our meetings and how to join.

If you’re interested in getting involved in any of the above, or if you have your own ideas, please get in touch via xr-consent@protonmail.ch

Further Resources

Videos

XR Documents

Podcasts

Info Sheets and Tools

Activities and Workshops

Zines

Other Websites and Resources

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