Haay Hottie! Consent, Communication, & Boundary Setting in Party Spaces
by Rachel and Lee Naught
16 pg. at half-letter size
Free to download here
I saw this zine floating around the tumblr last week and was pumped to read it! I find consent a pretty endlessly interesting topic, and a DIY workbook zine that prioritized queer perspectives and non-traditional sexy situations was definitely intriguing.
The zine is based on a workshop that the authors hosted at Idapalooza, the “annual music festival and queers-in-the-woods-extravaganza” at IDA, a queer farm and community in rural Tennessee. The idea was to have a discussion about boundaries, consent, and communication in a space that’s overwhelmingly sex-positive. The zine is written so that it can be used either as the basis for a workshop, or for individual reflection.
Zine readers are probably familiar with one of the co-authors of this zine: Rachel, who is one of the co-editors of Hoax, the badass feminist compilation zine that just put out its ninth issue. The other co-author is Lee Naught, who describes themself as a “radical, genderqueer, homo, mixed chican@ organizer who has participated in a variety of collective, feminist, and sexuality-based projects”, including Fuckin’ A, which is described in the zine as:
“a NYC-based feminist political collective that exists to promote, support and facilitate radical sex positivity as a crucial aspect of liberating ourselves and our communities! We educate primarily through fun participatory workshops, discussing topics including communication, consent, safer sex, gender, knowledge about our bodies, and the role that sex practices play in radical social movements. We believe the embrace of autonomy through respect and love of self and others is a slap in the face of the system and a badass step toward the fuckin revolution!”
In addition to giving general advice for setting your own boundaries, and communicating about interests, boundaries, and triggers with others, the authors counsel readers to think about how things like gender, ethnic or cultural background, or history of abuse or assault, affect a person’s perception of situations. The idea is not to assume how someone identifies themselves, or to assume anything about them based on their identity or history, but to be open to communicating about, and taking into account, the myriad of factors that affect what makes people feel safe or unsafe in a given situation.
I follow, with interest and frequently with chagrin, online debates around sex-positivity. Personally, I’ve definitely experienced sex-positivity more as coercive than as liberatory, but I think there’s potential for sex-positivity to be reclaimed in a more nuanced way. The authors of this zine do a lot of really interesting work to that end, and I’d love to read more from them on the topic.
They also give advice for what to do if you are your partner are triggered, which they describe in a way that really resonated with me: “If it’s going hot and heavy and the other person doesn’t say anything but suddenly seems less present – stop and check in.” They give advice on how to think about and communicate your boundaries around substance use, kink, etc..
The writing is funny and engaging. I liked one exercise where the authors include line drawings of two nude people, and ask the reader to write down “sexy, playful, dirty, or hot” names for their body parts. One of the bodies has breasts, and one has a penis, and so the authors write,
“And, yes, the body drawings are pretty binary-looking… but, remember, don’t make assumptions about the drawings’ lived experiences or internal identifications!”
In general, this zine takes on a lot of big heavy topics, but does so in an approachable, non-intimidating way. It talks about a lot of stuff that people tend to fight over, but does so in a respectful, neutral way, allowing readers to find their way to their own conclusions. I would recommend this zine for anyone who has sex or knows someone who does.
- Lily Pepper