Consent Matters 2021

The 2021 Consent Matters campaign (#ConsentMattersSFU) took place in September with the key message “Learn to hear no. It is okay to say no.” On September 23, we had the privilege of hosting a keynote event “Saying no with ease, clarity and kindness” with Karen B.K. (BK) Chan, an award-winning sex and emotional literacy educator based in Toronto, Canada with 20+ years of experience. BK is dedicated to having difficult conversations that are real, transformative, and kind. 

At the event, BK was in conversation with Paola Quirós-Cruz, Educator at the Sexual Violence Support & Prevention Office, speaking on the non-linear process of setting and respecting personal boundaries, and navigate the difficulties of a guilt-shaming culture, where there is little room to share and acknowledge people’s needs, and an opportunity to normalize the possibility to receive no as an answer. 

During the conversation, they expanded more on the prevalent cultural forces, and expectations  involved in the act of saying no or responding to a no, including influences from gender norms, and power dynamics. This raw and honest discussion about the complexities of consent offers a thoughtful analysis on the active work of attending to personal needs while giving space for others to do the same.

We would like to take this moment to issue an apology to the SFU community. The title of the event “Saying no with ease, clarity and kindness” could be read by a Survivor or an individual impacted by gender-based violence that the responsibility to establish and maintain boundaries relies on them, and that these are skills that they need to develop. We understand that regardless of the intention of the event and the conversation that was hosted, the impact is real. We are taking steps to ensure that missteps like this do not happen in future Consent Matter campaigns and in our approach to sexual violence prevention education in general. 

Despite our misjudgement, we were able to have an enlightening conversation with BK Chan. With their permission, we are sharing the following excerpts from the event, which highlight the act of recieving consent, gender conditioning in relation to consent, and ways to practice consent while sharing turn-ons and turn-offs. We would like to extend our deepest gratitudes to BK for sharing her words and insight with us.

How would you know if consent is given to you?

How does gender conditioning affect how people approach consent?

How do you discuss the things that turn you on or off while practicing consent?

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