“Can i touch you there” i asked as we became more sexual
“Are you going to keep asking that?” Gryphon replied
“It is my culture.” i answered
“It is not mine, please stop.” But her smile was clearly not a “no”
After our fun and exhausting evening of love making, we spoke longer about consent. What we established was Gryphon was offering something which i am calling “green light consent” which means all of the following:
- You are invited to initiate any type of physical intimacy, without asking
- You will keep your senses up to make sure what you are doing is desired
- It is on the person offering the green light to stop verbally or physically things they don’t want to happen (or don’t yet want to happen) early
- And because of the green light, they send these stop signals without resentment or upset.
The last point is especially important. Love making for many is a flow experience. Many also know early on that they want to have a robust sexual experience with their new partners and don’t especially want to be checking in at each point. But if you are going to drive without metaphorical seat belts, you need to handle mistakes gracefully. Perhaps your new partner bites you too hard or has surprised you in an uncomfortable way, if you don’t want to be interrupted by these check in questions, you need to make complete agreements at first or you need to respond to mistakes without blame.
We are trying to build a new healthy consent culture. But just writing “consent is sexy” in lots of places is not enough. Part of what is going on is that since there have been so many date rapes, so many failures to get consent, so much poor communication – with the new consent norms are designed to be more careful and intentional. This is approach is sometimes called the Oberlin Model where some of the pioneering work on healthy consent has been done.
And many people are not used to asking before they touch someone they are attracted to or granting permission for contact, especially people who formed there sexually active identities before these new norms were established.
And what this lovely evening with Gryphon reminded me is that we probably need lots of different types of consent models, rather than pretending one size fits all.
What is important to me in this coming month is promoting the Loud Love conference and so we get a bunch of people to experience it. We have a good program and a great team of organizers (see below).
Loud Love is about exploring, expressing, exporting and celebrating your romantic identity and experience. There are a wide range of workshops offered from Blues Dancing (a non-sexual intimacy building skill) to Honest Seduction (yes, this is not a contradiction in terms) to Drag King 101, to Transcending Jealousy and building compersion (yes, people actually succeed in this) to advanced polyamory techniques.
Plus there is a days worth of open space technology which permits conference participants to present on topics that the group in interested in.
At the end of our last organizers meeting Sky pointed out that we are not where we want to be for this Loud Love event, which is in two short months. And it made me realize that despite the good work we have done (securing a space, finding presenters, designing workshops, budgeting and more) there is more left to do to make this happen.
i dont usually ask things of my readers, but this post i will. Please think about a friend of yours (or possibly you yourself) who would be well served by this event. Then encourage them to register and attend or let us know who they are and we will let them know you recommend them for our event.
Here are the awesome folks i get to work with on this event:
Sky Blue has been experimenting with relationships since he was 8 years old and did his first
mediation with squabbling friends. He’s been in some form of open relationship for most of the last 14 years. A drop-out from UC Santa Cruz he’s lived and worked in cooperative and communal groups for most of the last 17 years. His purpose in life is to help bring people together to transform themselves, each other, and the world around them.
Kassia is a musician, activist, community builder and all-around nosey-parker. She has traveled the world, lived on a commune, toured the US with a klezmer band, and practiced Jewish Farming. After spending several years in Charlottesville helping start two small collective businesses (a hostel and a home-veggie gardening biz), she concluded that there is more fun to be had on the commune and recently moved back to Twin Oaks to work on her life-goal of conspiring with the universe to have as much fun as possible.
Angie Tupelo is a queer, anarchist, polyamorous, feminist, sub-identified, sex-positive gal. She recently moved back to the “real world” after living on a commune for 4 years, and is gradually adjusting to wearing shoes. She gives workshops on Polyamory, BDSM for Feminists, Honest Seduction, Kink for Abuse Survivors, and Intentional Community living. She blogs about life, love, revolution, mental illness, and how they fit together in her life, and really really enjoys bacon.
Ali has been bisexual and polyamorous since before she knew what those words meant. She languished in mainstream culture for several years feeling ashamed of her desires for multiple concurrent intimacies with different genders before she found her physical and philosophical home at Twin Oaks. Among Ali’s many life goals is to make sex an acceptable form of social currency and move it from the taboo to appropriate dinner table conversation. She wants to normalize polyamory as a relationship model, move forward the idea of a mischief (group) of interconnected lovers taking care of one another, and to make group intimacy & sex as easily & openly sought as coupledom.
Paxus facilitates a workshop called “Modesty is Dangerous” and you can start figuring out who he is from there. Paxus self-identifies as a revolutionary, but more importantly he identifies you, dear reader, as a potential co-conspirator in designing irresistible ideas which will change the world (super memes). He comes to the Loud Love organizing team engaged, reckless, and feeling intensely daring. His tangled form of activism fuses direct action against those threatening the biosphere (Monstanto, Westinghouse, et. al) with actively fostering and building new income-sharing intentional communities with proselytizing for radical intimacy models (including Honest Seduction). Paxus is one of three parents in a polyamorous family. His biography does not make credible fiction and was thus rejected by Wikipedia. He co-founded and directs the Emma Goldman Institute for Theoretical and Applied Funology, an entity which there seems to be no proof actually exists.
MacGyver dumped her job in high end tine-share real estate marketing to live with her friends in the country and do righteous work for an organic seed company. She drives a tractor, works as cook and carpenter and tends chickens at absurd o’clock in the morning. She spends 97% less time worrying about things than the average US American. Some of her friends call her Surprise. She is not afraid to pick up a microphone and entertain without a plan as to what she is going to say or sing when she grabs it. Not a day goes by when she is not appreciative for ditching the mainstream life and moving to Acorn.
When i was much younger i thought i had stumbled upon a clever universal truth – women like getting flowers. But when i gave some roses to Anissa, she informed me that cut flowers were not at all her thing and if i wanted to go pick wild flowers, especially with her, she was down with that – but otherwise she did not want to participate in this commodification of affection.
i’ve sent something over 200 cards and letters on this trip (which has been less than 80 days so far). Most of these are to my slightly dizzying array of romantic intimates current and past. Many of these are postcards to people in my hundred person commune. i dont have a relationship with everyone at Twin Oaks that warrants a post card, but i do with perhaps 2/3rds the people there [if you have not gotten one yet, be aware that about 30 are completed in my hands or in the post].
And while not everyone likes cut flowers (actually a minority of my current intimates do – tho wild flowers are the new universal), i have yet to have anyone say “Hey Pax, please dont send me a postcard again.” Perhaps it will happen, but given the nearly unanimous positive and enthusiastic response to people getting often unexpected mail, I will keep writing them.
The trick is to make them all different, to pen something worth reading, to make them all personal. Which i think i do a reasonable job at this (tho i got a couple of complaints about my letters sent from jail a couple years back – and i was in a grayer mood then). Traveling on a budget has made me aware of the international postage expense of this habit which has been mounting, so when Corb went back to the US i gave him a bunch to mail domestically and distribute. And i recently sent a bulk package of cards to Cloud who agreed to distribute them to Twin Oaks and Acorn for me.
Like throwing a pizza dough, shooting a bow and arrow or overthrowing corrupt regimes, the more you do, the easier it gets. Even for people who i only know minimally in the commune, but none the less i like, i have things to say to them. Stealing from our validation day tradition, i can tell them something i appreciate about what they do culturally or for mutual friends. The image on the front of the postcard will generally spark a unique conversation – why i chose it for them, what it might mean or why i think they might like it.
My recommendation to you comes straight from the Honest Seduction love letter class. Think for a few moments about someone who you really appreciate that you believe likely does not really know this because you have not expressed it sufficiently to them. This could be an old friend or mentor, a relative or romantic partner, or simply some inspiring person. Then spend a few minutes writing them about how they have positively influenced your life and then send it. Dont fall into the trap of “oh i cant say all the wonderful things i need to tell them, so i will write nothing”. It will almost certainly make them happy to receive your sentiments, it will likely increase their appreciation and respect for you. Remember postcards are a pretty small commitment, because they are so short. And it is certainly (in my never humble opinion) a better use of your time than watching another YouTube video or spending more time on Facebook (where even brilliant people send vapid happy birthday greetings instead).
If you want a letter or card from me, send me an interesting question and an address, if i dont already have it.
We can bring back letter writing, and be better off for it.
Angie knows how to get me. We had been talking about me possibly doing an honest seduction workshop with her again in Philly. I had been unclear if i could make it, she had been clear that i would be her first choice of co-presenters (we had done it before together and it worked well and i have done it more times than anyone).
After a while she just decided to run the announcement for the workshop saying that i was coming. And by doing so dramatically increased the chances that i will do it with her.
Though it is clear that this particular technique of influencing a lovers behavior is hardly honest.
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- Want to Phone Bank? October 28, 2018
- Come to Tampa and Sing October 25, 2018
- Why Florida? October 18, 2018