Faculty of Social and Human Sciences (UNL) Conference System, 1st Non-Monogamies and Contemporary Intimacies Conference

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Train-the-trainer workshop: Consensual relationships
Hannah Darvill, Meg-John Barker

##manager.scheduler.building##: B Tower
##manager.scheduler.room##: T09
Date: 2015-09-26 02:30 PM – 04:00 PM
Last modified: 2015-08-08


This proposal is for a 90-minute ‘train the trainer’ workshop applying the concept of consent to all relationships in various ways. Those of us who practise intentional non-monogamy often aim for an explicitly ethical, negotiated style of relating; this workshop will offer a useful ‘way in’ to such conversations. All are welcome.

Our proposal is to invite all conference participants to experience a tried-and-tested workshop aboutconsensual relationships and also to invite (and train) them to repeat the workshop in their own communities.In this way we hope to disseminate ‘consent culture’.

What do we mean by ‘consensual relationships’?

We assert that consent is about:

• All sex, not just kinky sex

• Enthusiastic mutual agreement, not just the ability to say ‘no’

• The whole relationship, not just the sex parts

• All relationships, not just sexual relationships (including the relationships that we have with ourselves)

• The whole culture, not just the individuals within it

The idea is that unless we aim for consensual relationships beyond the bedroom, with all the people in ourlives, and in our wider culture, it will be very hard – if not impossible – to ensure consent within sexual encounters. It isn’t possible to isolate just one aspect of human behaviour (sex) and ensure that it is conducted under a completely different set of rules than the ones that we use when managing domestic chores, forexample, or inviting someone out to a social occasion, or putting structures in place for how our work projects will be conducted.

Note that this workshop will explore various conceptions of ‘consent’; it is not underpinned by any particular definition of the term.

Workshop approach

The ‘three handshakes workshop’ is an activity Justin Hancock and Meg John Barker have been working on together for a couple of years. They’ve used it in sex education with young people and adults, training courses with therapists, and at seminars/ discussion groups. They’ve found it a really useful exercise as it opens up lots of discussion about how we ask for our needs to be met as well as some of the barriers to this.

The workshop involves inviting everyone to shake hands, first ‘normally’, then by negotiation. This opens up facilitated conversations about cultural norms, expectations, and consent. Shaking hands works as an analogy for sexual consent, but it’s also interesting to think about how we do and don’t consent to greetings in everyday life. At the end of the workshop we will open up facilitated conversations about how we can apply this kind ofthinking to whole relationships (of various kinds) and within communities.The workshop is described in more detail here: http://bishtraining.com/index.php/2015/03/25/threehandshakes-an-activity-for-learning-how-consent-feels/

The subject matter is explored further here: https://rewritingtherules.wordpress.com/2014/10/10/consensual-relationships-revisited/