Sex Educators Teach About Consent and Healthy Sex

They taught people to get close with I.V., S.T.I.S. and now with the coronavirus.

Julia Carmel

15. December 2020

This year, physical distance and safety have suddenly become urgent issues for everyone. But for educators who focus on intimacy and consent, questions about bodies and boundaries are a constant topic. Here’s how different experts teach people how to treat themselves and others well – and what they can teach you.

Who has time to think about fun? You have.

Over the past four years, Robin Dalzen has facilitated consent workshops around the world, often educating individuals and couples about the complexity of physical intimacy. Today, this work has finally migrated to virtual space.

We all have wishes, and we all have obstacles that prevent us from saying and asking what we want, said Dalzen. On a very basic level, simply naming our wish and asking for what we want is incredibly vulnerable.

Mrs. Dalzen became a consent educator after learning about an instrument called the consent wheel from its creator, Betty Martin. Mrs Martin invented the wheel because of two factors that always play a role when people touch each other: who makes it and for whom it is intended.

The Wheel presents nuanced ideas about giving and receiving, topics that are stressful for many people – and some may never have thought of.

In order to have more fun, the agreement must be based on what kind of agreement do we have? Martin. What do we both want? What don’t we want, you and me? What are the possibilities?

We make a deal together, Ms. Martin, instead of having someone approve or receive.

It is an advantage to do these workshops online: people who were reluctant to participate, or who did not have the time or money to come in person, can now participate. These conversations can also carry new weight in a year in which the concepts of autonomy and personal privilege have changed for many people.

When we are in the middle of a pandemic, when the country is undergoing great political upheaval and racial injustice comes to light, what place is there for the pleasure of this modern reality, Dalzen asked. Is it something frivolous? Does that take away from what we need to look out for and what we need to focus on?

Their solution is always that you need joy in the worst times.

The more we are connected – with ourselves, with our desires – the more we express that in the world, said Dalzen. It does not turn away from these fundamental social and health issues, but really focuses on who we are as individuals and what kind of world we want to live in.

Setting memory limits

Nena Joyner, who runs the Feelmore sex stores in Oakland and Berkeley, California, kept her stores open during the pandemic.

At the store, Max. Using meaningless pronouns, Mr Joiner tries to show his clients how they can intelligently ask intimate questions and show the boundaries of their comfort zone.

No solid workplace without sex, Mex. Said Joyner. It is a strong relationship and in general it is also a way to build capacity. There’s always room.

We make sure that we talk about exactly what the client wants, regardless of our personal beliefs, according to Joyner. The advantage of owning, exploiting and working in a sex shop is that you are actually there for the needs of the community.

The activists of Pleasure and Mx. Joyner is one of those who believe that personal pleasure is politically important and that healthy sexuality empowers people – especially those who are ignored in these conversations.

If you’ve read a lot of books about sex, most aren’t written with women of colour in mind, Joyner said. When you think about fun, or activity, the last thing you think about is brown women.

Stay informed (and instructive) on YouTube

Sex education is bad sex. It’s dry, impersonal, monotonous, boring, systematic, says Shan Budram, known on YouTube as Shan Budi. So I wanted to take the education I got, which was interesting for people, and the lascivious stories and narratives that people wanted to follow, and combine the two.

Through social media he can reach more people, including those who may not have the time, money or resources to attend a workshop in person. His videos, whether titles or images, are racy – and to the point.

But once you’re inside, you learn that the way you think about sex, and permission in particular, is not the same for everyone. In the bullying world it’s all gone until you get a yes, she says. In the vanilla business, it’s just yes until you hear no.

Oh, your lips are so sexy I can kiss them? Or your skin is so beautiful I can stick my tongue in it? Consent is part of foreplay and dialogue, she said. Everybody wins if there’s a sexy, enthusiastic dialogue, yeah.

Open an Instagram dialogue

After Amalie was sexually assaulted in 2014, she wrote a blog post explaining her attempt to report the incident. She had surveillance footage of a man repeatedly approaching her tent, two witnesses who heard her say no, and she filled out a rape kit – but her attacker was still acquitted.

Hawe, who lives in Copenhagen, said that Danish women approached her for the job because they had had a similar experience. She went to Instagram to continue the conversation.

This platform enabled him to mobilize people quickly and effectively. But the aftershock she got wasn’t pleasant either.

People said: Yeah, but you were alone, you looked like you were, you’d had a few beers, you’d slept in a tent and you were wearing the dress you were wearing, Miss Have. And especially the last one, that’s me: Oh, that’s interesting. Let me use this as a visual conversation starter.

She continued to wear the evening dress of the incident and created a project called The Green Dress. Her work has also eliminated her; earlier this year she lobbied in the Danish parliament for consent legislation and worked on Amnesty International’s Let’s Talk Yes campaign.

When the coronavirus pandemic spread, madam saw her life take shape both physically and digitally. You know other people so well, and it doesn’t matter if they’re in your space or five inches away, she says.

She made it clear that we have a problem when other people set boundaries and they are different from us, she said. We have the impression that it somehow criticizes what we do ourselves or that it restricts our path to freedom of movement.

It also ensured that the discussions on consent were reasonably positive: Cause I thought, okay, I have to survive this, too.

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