What is the International Day of Consent? What is the International Festival of Consent?
The brain child of Jenny Wilson (consentculture.co.uk) and Kitty Stryker (consentculture.com), the 2020 International Festival of Consent was a response to the need for more conversations to happen about what consent means, both in and out of the bedroom. It was organized in November 2020 around the principles of accessible community, mutual aid, and the importance of consent culture.
The world’s first International Day of Consent, spearheaded by Jenny Wilson of Irregular Arts and consentculture.co.uk, took place on November 30th 2018, as a small gathering and performance event at Theatre in the Mill in Bradford, West Yorkshire, UK. Then in 2019, Irregular Arts ran the first Festival of Consent in Leeds, UK, including international artists, panel discussions, workshops, exhibitions and performances exploring consent.
In 2020, Kitty Stryker (founder of consentculture.com back in 2011 and editor of “Ask: Building Consent Culture”), joined forces with Wilson. Their shared goal? Creating an online International Festival of Consent, #IDoConsent, with artists, activists and academics working within the realm of consent culture.
Reaching out to performers and professionals with a variety of experience, Wilson and Stryker cultivated a 2 week long program of speakers, art, and writing on the term “consent culture”, both what it means and what it looks like. Starting on November 16th and ending November 30th, the International Festival of Consent came at a vital time.
How do I buy tickets?
In 2020, we didn’t do a traditional conference, per se, with a formal structure and one overhead ticket price – we likely won’t again. What we prefer to do is more curating and creating a bunch of consent related content in a more organic and anarchic way – everyone brings their offerings to the table, and asks for what they see fit in exchange. Granted, it can be a little more chaotic that way (especially for our first run), but it also serves to allow people to participate in a way that feels right to them – which, when talking about a consent culture, feels very important to us!
In 2021, Wilson and Stryker ran a few smaller events and Wilson launched the IDoConsent podcast. Together and individually, they are continuing to champion the International Day of Consent with fresh approaches and ideas.
Why have the I Do Consent festivals been run in this way?
We (Jenny and Kitty) aren’t being paid for our work bringing this festival together. Dating Kinky volunteered their team to pull the tech and the online presence together. We are all doing this because we are passionate about this topic, and we want to make sure these conversations are available to as many people as possible. Academia isn’t always accessible, and many sex conferences are prohibitively expensive, leaving marginalized people out of the discussion.
We wanted to re-imagine what a conference based in consent culture and community building could look like.
What events are free or pay what you can?
We worked to ensure that there would be free content available (in addition to essays), but we also acknowledge that some of the presenters were only able to participate if they were compensated for their labor. We value both approaches!
Below were the events that were free or pay what you can, though we do encourage you to tip when at all possible. Please click through to see what 2020 was like!
- Consent Chat with Consent Academy
- Consent Culture: Live Reflections with Jenny Wilson (recurring daily)
- Consent and Sexuality with Anupama Garg – part of Sugar & Spice (free scholarship for the Sugar & Spice festival is available)
- Night Sweats: Festival Edition with Jenny Wilson (recurring weekly)
- Sex Education Zine Cafe with Kit Heyam and Ashleigh Blackwood
- Consent Basics with Consent Academy
- Words Change Worlds 1: Introducing Upwording with Rivca Rubin
- Burl-Ask: Consent is Sexy! With Rosa Robada
- Developing self consent: unlearning conditioning limiting real choice with Sophia Graham
- “Ask: Building Consent Culture” book event with Kitty Stryker
- Anti-Racism and Consent 202 with Consent Academy (must contact for further discount)
- Consent Discussion Group for Men with Consent Academy
- Live Twitter Chat with Kitty Stryker
- SSSH! Shame, Stigma, Sex and How We Research with Jenny Wilson
- The (anti-)philosophy of consent and sex work with Fi Roxburgh
- Consent Ritual with Jenny Wilson
- Words Change Worlds 2 – Upwording Explores: Why-How-When to Connect with the not Like-Minded with Rivca Rubin
- Nurturing Consent Culture with Jenny Wilson
- Consent & Sex Work: a Discussion with Andre Shakti
- Gathering Consent: perspectives on creating boundaries and getting buy-in from bunches of people who just want some fun with Cameryn Moore
- Shame-Less with Jenny Wilson
- Libertarianism is Consent Culture with Feminists for Liberty
What is consent culture?
We embrace a diversity of ideas on what a consent culture looks like, but for the purposes of this Festival, we utilized this manifesto written by Jenny Wilson:
Consent Culture is a movement for social change. Consent is transformative.
Consent is a human right.
Consent shifts our culture away from entitlement and privilege, towards empathy and kindness.
Consent is the foundation for building a better world.
CONSENT is in place when it is:
• FREELY GIVEN – all parties have full capacity to consent, and nobody is pressured, manipulated or coerced
• REVERSIBLE – consent may be withdrawn or retracted at any point, and it is clear to all parties at what point a consensual transaction is completed
• INFORMED – all parties understand fully what they are consenting to, and any risks relating to it
• ENGAGED – there is clear communication and positive agreement to proceed and continue
• SPECIFIC – with limitations and boundaries understood by all parties
We want consent to be present in all human interaction – from the intimate and inter-personal, to the social and the cultural.
Building consent culture involves celebrating human diversity, whilst not categorizing difference as ‘otherness’. We can accept and embrace difference. We can disagree successfully. We can be curious about each other. We can search for points of connection. We can work towards a consensus.
The personal is political and we can all use our personal agency to make change within our sphere of influence.
Together we will campaign to grow consent culture across the globe.
How do I get more involved in #IDoConsent?
We want to flood the public discourse with consent culture, and we need YOUR help! We want to hear from RPG gamers, cosplayers, union organizers, sex workers, parents, educators, artists, students, activists – everyone and anyone who believes consent culture is valuable. Consent culture isn’t just about sex, after all, it permeates our whole lives. Consent is transformative. Let’s talk about that!
What we aren’t interested in: racism, sexism, ableism, classism, homophobia, transphobia, ageism, anti-immigrant sentiment, bigotry, or punching down.
What we are interested in: workshops, zine drops, drag shows, academic seminars, tiktok videos, quizzes, ‘grams, spoken word, radio shows, webinars, podcasts.
We are especially reaching out our hands to folks who are often forgotten in consent culture conversations – people in poverty, our elders, Black and brown folks, people with disabilities, people outside of North America and the UK. Use the hashtag #IDoConsent and let us know what consent culture means to you!