Class Descriptions

Class 1 – Collisions and Coercions

Hearing someone share with you that they have been hurt by something you have done can be really challenging. Survivors have many groups, classes, books, etc. to work on their healing and growth but there aren’t nearly as many resources to help transgressors with noticing behaviors, making amends, and moving forward in healthier ways in order to not transgress again.  

Helping create more available resources is what we are here to do! 

Throughout this six class series we will be working on listening and hearing, noticing and honoring boundaries, both our own and others’, exploring how roles impact power and safety, thinking about how we can create win-win solutions to support our partners, ourselves, and our community, and *many* other topics.

These classes are highly participatory. There will be group discussions, brainstorms, exercises, partnered breakout rooms, and other forms of interactive learning.

In class 1 some things we will be looking at include discussing the roots of Rape Culture, exploring ranges of violence and coercion, and beginning to practice ways to take care of ourselves while softening our defenses in order to listen to difficult feedback.

Class 2 – Roles We Play

“Why are we talking about roles in this class series about consent?” This is a question that has come up a number of times over the years of holding these classes. 

We each play many roles in our lives…Whether they come from our family or friends, religion, the media, or some other source, we all have them. 

We will be spending some time thinking about various parts we have been trained to embody, from parent/child, to various jobs, hobbies, and community positions. Looking at them can tell us what we automatically expect from ourselves, and others. These expectations can exist without us ever having consciously agreed to play these roles. This is a set-up that leaves us vulnerable to many potential consent collisions.

We also have a relationship with our own bodies including our socially assigned gender. Many things about our body’s size, shape, and gender can have a huge impact on our assigned “roles”. 

Who do we think we have to be in order to be a “sexy person”? How does that affect our approach to consent? With regards to personal relationships many of us enjoy playing a fantasy role. There are as many roles we might embody as there are possible turn ons.

In this class we will practice communicating about what you do and do not want. We will explore the impacts our ideas and experiences with roles have had on our lives with discussions and exercises. We are here to support each other as we think about and practice maintaining consent. 

Class 3 – Communication and Conflict

In class three we will work on talking about sex and intimate relationships, exploring our emotions and how they are expressed in our bodies. We will also discuss ways communications can get derailed and practice things we can do about it.  

When it comes to relationships, the emotional costs and realities for people are often at the heart of issues arising from the vulnerability of these intimate interactions. This may be particularly true when things didn’t work out very well. 

We are especially going to look at how to listen with openness, and boundaries, when someone is in pain about something we said or did. We emphasize practicing receiving difficult feedback about our sexual behavior. We work on self-care when hearing someone share their hurts with us. 

We have been, as a society, frequently deprived of a clear language for our feelings or sexuality. So part of our task is to develop a language for ourselves that works to describe our emotions and experiences.

Join us for Class 3 where we will be practicing and exploring these topics to help us strengthen our ability to both share and listen to our partners in these vulnerable conversations. It can feel scary to share our emotions. At the same time, it is our experience that intimacy is created by shared vulnerability.

Class 4 – Negotiation and Consent

How easy is it for you to talk about sex? Can you easily and clearly name what you would like to do and specifically where and how you want it to happen? Naming body parts and sexual actions, in addition to what kind of setting and scenario you might want to experience, can feel particularly difficult.  Acting on sexual desires without clear communication is prime territory for consent violations and collisions.

At Navigating Consent we define consent as “an active collaboration for the pleasure and well-being of all parties concerned, including some who might not be in the room at the time.” For us, an active collaboration means we both (or all) put our limits, our desires, and our abilities on the table. 

Together in class we will develop a language for negotiation skills, noticing factors that can impact safety for ourselves and our partners. We do somatic exercises and rehearse receiving different responses to our negotiations and in the midst of a sexual encounter. We practice knowing our sexual desires and speaking them.

It is often said that nothing increases intimacy more than shared vulnerability. This is where all that practice of mindfulness and self-compassion comes in handy: you won’t need to run away from the intimacies of a vulnerable consent discussion. You can collaborate for a really wonderful sexual adventure.

Class 5 – Making It Better

In our first four classes we focused on prevention, both establishing, & maintaining, safety & consent. Classes 5 & 6 are focusing on what we do after a consent collision, rupture, or violation.

Depending on the nature of the problem we need a repertoire of responses that are proportional to different types of offenses.

We will be exploring pathways to change and ways of being accountable. We will have more discussion and practice of self-care, safety, and communication tools for hearing someone’s truth.

It can be challenging to not react in a defensive way if someone comes to you with righteous indignation or expressing a lot of hurt.  How to respond depends, but in general it’s best to start by listening. Remember, listening is doing something. We will be continuing to practice and explore some of these skills more deeply. 

Not being defensive also means being willing to take in what the other person is saying and maybe realizing or learning something. Maybe repairing or restoring a damaged relationship, or perhaps approaching a new relationship with new wisdom.

Class 6 – Recovery and Resilience

How can we thrive as a sex-positive culture and find new, safer ways to be in community? How can I deal with it when someone is angry about something I have done?  What does Resilience look like? 

Even when someone did something harmful, the feedback they receive may include things that are not true or may not be fair. What is in your control to do about it?

By deciding to do this work you are showing your willingness to look at what changes you can make in yourself to navigate consent more successfully and to repair, heal, and recover when a consent issue arises.

Together we will delve into potential ways to obtain support from others, and nurture you, and your partner’s, healing and self-care when facing a consent collision or violation. We examine both the personal and the community aspects of the issue and share tools for ongoing work with accountability.

Value what you’ve learned from this experience and forgive yourself. You may have made a mistake…you are not a mistake. Open your heart to your ability to heal, and thank yourself for being who you are. Support your own inquisitiveness and curiosity. Curiosity is the enemy of shame.