On engaging consent and respectful conduct in community

No place can be safe but we can be mindful about trying to make safe(r) ones.

As a survivor of childhood bullying and sexual violence one of the essential elements in designing a community dance group is considering rules of engaging consent and respectful conduct. Many movement spaces become uncomfortable really fast. From previous experience navigating I now insist on establishing clear rules of consent and conduct when starting any group. For AbunDANCE this would be a co-creating process (see below). In anticipation here are some thoughts I’m mustering – from a recent comment I made on another post: “First and foremost there needs be some understanding that if anyone is made to feel uncomfortable within or outside the group by anyone in the group (access privilege is owed to labor of anyone involved in bringing group together) they need to come to me immediately – this way any hint of abuse can be directly confronted and in a timely manner.” Oddly this sounds similar to when I was a baby and my mama said the same thing to me. “If anyone touches you and makes you feel uncomfortable tell me immediately no matter how bad you are made to feel. Nothing is more important to me than you. You understand, Pampi?”

At one of the AbunDANCE workshops, we deliberated over consent – here’s a first attempt at developing explicit guidelines for engagement

* We model full body enthusiastic yes’s and honest no’s!

* We hold space for every person. We address erasure immediately.

* Consent is the only language of respect for ourselves and the people we are in community with

* Consent is agreement, permission, and accountability to community

Suggestions welcome !

Live and learn because this system is designed to fuck communities up so we don’t.

Let’s break the cycle of violence in community!

Photo by JM