F#ck Yeah! Enthusiastic Consent promotes positive sexual conduct
Last week, a handful of Edmontonians gathered in The Aviary to listen to music and discuss enthusiastic consent. The event was named F#ck Yeah! Enthusiastic Consent within the Music Community.
The event could not have been held at a better time, in light of events happening both here and abroad—more than 50 women accusing Hollywood mogul producer Harvey Weinstein of sexual assault and harassment, the #metoo campaign, and Edmonton’s own theatre celebrity, Chris Craddock, admitting over social media that he has “touched women without permission.”
“The point [of the event] was twofold: to raise awareness in the concept of enthusiastic consent, and also to educate ourselves and our community,” musician and event creator Kimberley MacGregor says. “The stellar education portion, delivered by Nikki Bernier from SACE (Sexual Assault Centre of Edmonton) focused on Canadian law for consent, which is ‘affirmative.’ She also led a very informative group discussion on behaviours or attitudes that can contribute to a culture of violence, as well as how to be aware of those and avoid participating.”
For an entire year, MacGregor worked on setting up the event, trying to figure out the best way to address sexual violence within the community.
“I spoke with experts, mentors and trusted friends and allies, and got feedback and advice during the planning stages,” she says. “It was very important to keep the tone positive and solution-oriented. Education and awareness emerged as the approach that felt most productive.”
While the #metoo movement was related to the event, MacGregor points out that its focus is on women, whereas her event focused on enthusiastic consent within the entire community.
“Perhaps [the #metoo campaign] highlighted the need for the event. I was moved to see my news feed dominated by people I care about coming forward in solidarity,” MacGregor says. “I think it is extremely important that the shame falls on the abuser instead of the survivors, so hopefully coming forward was helpful to that end. I also think it is good to have people talking about the scale of this problem and not ignoring it.”
As we have found with the developing Weinstein story, ignorance has been a huge part of the problem. How many stories have leaked proclaiming that actors, colleagues, and directors knew about Weinstein’s egregious behaviour towards women?
“If everyone is complicit in turning a blind eye, behaviours are not likely to change,” MacGregor says.
The event was a success, with the room packed and the audience eager to learn, listen and discuss. It proves that raising awareness about consent is something the Edmonton arts community is passionate about.
“To see that many people come out on a Thursday night to learn about consent is so encouraging and reassuring,” MacGregor says. “The crowd was totally respectful, attentive and participatory, with amazing insights and discussion points.”
MacGregor worked with musician and visual artist Raine Radtke to develop stickers that say, “Enthusiastic Consent, F#ck Yeah.” Donations were accepted at the door, with all the funds raised used to produce the stickers.
“The imagery on the stickers was inspiring to me. [They] depicted non-gendered, body positive images, depicting people getting down to a sexy time, who are super into it,” MacGregor says. “Already these stickers have initiated so many conversations, and that is the whole point. The stickers will be divvied up between the three musicians who performed at the event, to be given away for free with their merch.”
The work is far from done, but the F#ck Yeah! event and sticker crusade are positive steps forward. MacGregor has already been contacted by organizers looking to have future events in their communities, and she hopes the message will be an ongoing thought in people’s minds.
“Ultimately, holding ourselves and our communities accountable to healthy and caring standards will create an environment where abusive behaviours are not okay,” she says. “The conversation needs to continue.”