A consent workshop is a space where you can go and discuss with a group, overseen by a facilitator what constitutes sexual consent.
Now I have people in my life who I love dearly, who will read this and ask why?
Are you confused about what consent is?
Whether you believe consent is simple or not, what is very clear is that not everyone is getting it. Given the state of sex education in Ireland, this is not surprising.
I know my school didn’t teach it.
Remember you have the right to this information!
You deserve to have the space to have your questions answered!
You have a responsibility to educate yourself!
And most importantly you don’t need to be embarrassed to want to go to a workshop.
Consent classes have been a thing at my university for a while.
The Student Union canceled a workshop last year because of lack of interest.
This year they have been delivered as compulsory classes to first years and in Week 4, a voluntary workshop.
Even though I personally had no formal sex education at school, I do think I have always had a good grasp of consent, but I did have questions, so I decided to go to a workshop.
The first time I heard of a consent workshop was in a newspaper. The article was about a University in Britain that was proposing to make consent classes compulsory for male first years.
Yes, you read that right just the lads!
For years I have thought the concept of a consent workshop as sexist but I was wrong.
The workshop was an hour. The facilitators were student union officers.
The workshop started by looking at our pre-existing ideas of consent, communication, and barriers to communication.
We went on to explore definitions of consent and discuss situations where consent may or may not have been given.
The situations were the most difficult part because you really had to think about them.
Some of the scenarios are common situations on TV and in movies or you or friends have been in them.
Like is it consent if alcohol has been consumed?
But that’s how you learn.
I have always fallen into the camp that thinks consent is simple. Here is what I learned:
- It’s not simple. Definitions are easy to recite but practicing and applying them to situations, and situations you may have been in is harder.
- Everyone has slightly different ideas about consent. The only way to know what your partner’s idea of consent is to talk. If talking is a mood killer, then maybe it’s not meant to be.
- Consent is ongoing if you gave it, but don’t like what’s happening, you are entitled to change your mind and that decision is respected.
- Lack of education is no longer an excuse; these workshops have been available for a while and if you don’t have access there are some fantastic resources online, like SpunOut.ie, and vlogs like Hannah Witton and Sexplanations.
Consent workshops give you a chance to talk about and explore the concept of consent in a way that you may not have the opportunity in your day to day life without social consequences.
If you have questions they can be answered and if you feel you are the expert, maybe you have something to contribute to the discussion.
You will almost definitely learn something.
I did and I’m glad I went.
Have you been to a consent workshop?
What did you learn?
Maybe you haven’t, would like to but have concerns?
As always let me know what you think in the comments.