What do you know about “consent”?

I mean, really know. It comes up in a lot of conversations about sex – getting it, giving it, consequences of moving forward without it – but how do you give someone the EXPERIENCE of experiencing consent firsthand? Making conscious choices about <what we do and when and with whom and how> are all part of this.

There has been much written about this topic. College campuses have tried to step up and talk about this, states have mandated it be taught to students, and even then-Vice President Biden launched an effort to end violence against women in 2014 called “1 Is 2 Many.” Everyone is trying to get clarity on this.

As part of my ongoing professional development in the many facets of human sexuality, I recently attended a 5-day intensive course taught by the inimitable Betty Martin on consent. As a sexuality professional, I thought consent was a straightforward concept.

Until now.

This course proved to be essential and clarified a very complex concept – this was a Graduate course in consent. Honey, it is SO MUCH bigger than just asking for someone’s permission to do or not to do something. As Betty writes,

“In any instance of touch, there are two factors: who is doing and who it’s for. Those two factors combine in four ways (quadrants). Each quadrant presents its own challenges, lessons and joys.

The circle represents consent (your agreement). Inside the circle there is a gift given and a gift received. Outside the circle (without consent) the same action becomes stealing, abusing, etc.”

The Wheel of Consent,

learning about consent

– bettymartin.org. http://bettymartin.org/wp-content/uploads/2016/08/final-Wheel-A4.pdf .

If you would like a more detailed run down, go to Betty’s website, and you can watch the 45-minute lecture to understand this directly from the expert.

But let me share with you in two parts some of my experiences of going through the workshop.

Part 1 – One Night After The Workshop

This 4-day workshop involved touch all day long – but not the kind that one would think (it never is, is it?). All of the exercises were done while all participants were clothed and consisted of various forms of exploring touch through the hands; serving and accepting and taking and allowing (see diagram). For the first two days, I came home wiped. Drained. I mean my body felt like I had been brought right back to the days of being a new mother; touched and poked and prodded by my infant and toddler babies. Back when my energy and attention were demanded 100%. I was thrown back into the days of serving and doing for my kids and husband 24/7. I was so wiped out that after finishing the class at 6 pm, driving for the 1-hour commute, feeding and putting my big kids to bed, telling them about the class day as well, I put myself to bed at 8 pm. Wiped.

That night, I was so out of it that after we shared our day, my two daughters Marcia and Cindy whined that I forgot to give them bedtime kisses. I told them I couldn’t. Marcia said, “I don’t consent for you not to give me kisses.” Little punk. She knew I went to a consent workshop and she was being playful with me. Of course, she knows I wouldn’t refuse to kiss them, so I went in and gave them kisses. My daughters know that guilt-tripping or otherwise coercing someone into doing something they don’t want isn’t okay, and this kid also knows me well enough to know I wasn’t THAT tired to refuse to kiss them.

If you’re still reading and want to know more about how this workshop helped me discover how to get my lust back, check out Part 2 here.



The MamaSutra

I’d love to hear about your experiences, so if it’s comfortable for you, feel free to share your story in the comment section below.

I have lots of resources for you to check out or you could schedule a discovery call. We can discuss how to enhance your relationships. There are many topics with which I am comfortable; let’s talk. I get so much joy out of witnessing the growth and enjoyment my clients experience. 

New to this site and want to start at the beginning?  My first post will give you some background.

About the Author

The MamaSutra

Dr. Lanae St.John is a Diplomate of the American Board of Sexology and certified sex coach with a background in sexology and a passion for helping people improve their sexual health and relationships. She is the author of "Read Me: A Parental Primer for "The Talk"" and the upcoming "You Are the One: How stopping the search and looking inside will lead you to your romantic destiny," and is committed to staying up-to-date on the latest research and trends in the field. Dr. St.John aims to share her knowledge and expertise in a relatable and approachable way through her blog on themamasutra.com.

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