Welcome to the first “In the Flesh” column of 2015, which also happens to be my “New Year’s Resolutions” article for Erotic Vancouver. Better late than never, I say.
I don’t generally make New Year’s Resolutions. If I realize that I want to change something in my life, I try and change it when I make that realization. So, instead of traditional resolutions, I’ll put forth some suggestions as to what I might focus upon for the coming year. I will also make suggestions for the event organizers and attendees who help make Vancouver erotic.
Suggestions for myself…
When I took on a writing role with Erotic Vancouver, I promised myself I would try to attend more of the sexy events that Vancouver offers. There are so many opportunities listed in the Erotic Vancouver calendar, for example, that I could start skipping all the events I attend regularly, and still find something to do each and every weekend. And so I resolve to make it out to more of the amazing variety of shenanigans that Vancouver provides.
I also resolve to continue building relationships with positive (and sex positive!) people! There are many people out there with a variety of perspectives. Some I can learn from, some I can perhaps help learn.
I’ve been formally trying to build a sex-positive and consent-driven community since 2010, and it makes me happy to see the momentum that this type of culture has taken in the past year. Ashton provided some great points about consent culture in his New Year’s Resolution column, and I thought I would provide some suggestions regarding consent culture for those hosting events as well as those attending them.
Suggestions for those involved in making events happen…
To the multitude of talented folks who create, produce, host and volunteer at erotic events – thanks for the hard work you do in shaping consent culture. If you are not consciously focusing on consent culture, be aware that your lack of focus may shape our local culture.
There is still work to be done in forming a culture of consent. For every place that puts value on sex positivity, body positivity and the value of respecting consent, there is an event that may bring us two steps backward. Producers – tell your guests that consent is important to you, and if possible show them what it does and does not look like.
This means it is time to ask yourself what message you are sending if your hosts are giving out free drinks and jokingly suggesting where revellers can find a “sure thing” later. Not cool. If your event happens to include a production team or volunteers who are known for not respecting boundaries, that reflects on the event as well. It’s one thing to have people on your team and not know of such concerns, but if you hear about concerns from people, please take them seriously.
Suggestions for those attending events…
Awesome attendees – continue coming to the sexy events this city offers! Also, understand your role in consent culture and how you can help ensure that these events stay sexy.
Erotic culture continues to grow in Vancouver, but I can guarantee it will decline just as quickly if events or venues become more famous for people copping feels rather than for creating a positive atmosphere. So respect people’s boundaries! And if you see someone who isn’t respecting boundaries? Intervene, or get the event staff to do so. All of this will help build an atmosphere of consent and the comfort level that comes with it.
General suggestions when it comes to building a culture of consent…
Yes, I’ve written about this quite a bit in past columns (mostly in a three-parter that began with this column), but I don’t think it’s possible to over-discuss this important topic.
The basic concepts of consent and boundaries are new to a lot of people, and they may not naturally be able to “get“ the concepts and conversations immediately. People are learning these concepts and trying them out. Some are succeeding, and some are making mistakes. Be aware of where there are opportunities to teach and learn, and part of that means being open to people making honest mistakes. Not every person is going to have consent all figured out, and not every person who makes a mistake with the language or actions of consent and boundaries is a predator.
That said, people need to feel safe and empowered to discuss consent when their boundaries have been breached. Just as one shouldn’t suspect someone who doesn’t “get” consent immediately as being a predator, we also shouldn’t suspect anyone who states their boundaries have been crossed as being anything but honest and up-front.
To me, consent goes hand in hand with sex positivity – and attention to both can keep Vancouver sexy and erotic. As I mentioned in my first “In the Flesh” column:
“All of us who love these events need to do our best to nurture them and keep them healthy. Let’s show people new to this culture that in addition to being hella erotic and explorative and pleasurable, it is safe and respectful. That’s where growing sex positivity comes in.”
And hopefully, we will see a whole lot of this in 2015!