What is consent?
Consent is defined by the con as affirmative communication about what all parties agree to participate in and what bystanders agree to witness. Consent is revocable at any time, informed, verbal or written or with explicit body language such as nodding or thumbs up or ASL (American Sign Language), and without social pressure.
What are some things that one needs consent for? [Section A]
- Touch of any kind
- Sexual activity
- Hypnotically suggestive language, covert influence
- Kink/BDSM Play
- Divulging others’ identity (real name, location, school, etc.)
How do you obtain/grant consent?
- Have a conversation before asking to scene.
- Make sure you’re asking the person in a comfortable physical environment by giving them lots of personal space and making sure they have an easy way to leave.
- Make sure someone is not in scene before asking them to play.
- Listen for “soft no’s.” A “soft no” may sound like a non-committal response such as “maybe later” or “I’ll think about it” or “I’ll let you know.” If someone gives you a soft no, the ball is in their court. Let them approach you and cease asking, even if you want to remind them or think they misunderstood you.
- Accept hard no’s with grace. Thank someone for drawing a boundary. Accept no’s without explanation. “Cool, thanks. Let me know if you change your mind.”
- Be aware of any inherent power imbalances. If you are older, more masculine, more cisgendered, wealthier, white-passing, perceived as important, or a teacher or leader, you may have greater influence over negotiation than you perceive.
- Verbally acknowledge any existing power differential.
- Reveal the other person’s uninfluenced expectations first by asking open-ended, non-leading questions.
- Acknowledge experience levels — do you two have the combined experience to pull off the scene safely and with informed consent?
- If someone can’t or won’t communicate their boundaries, do not play with them.
- If someone is having trouble communicating their boundaries, proceed with caution and help them set boundaries. Involve a third party if that would help. Keep play simple and confined to a small number of low-impact, mutually agreed activities.
- Take into account that it’s not always possible to create perfectly informed consent, especially with new players or new types of play. People don’t know what they don’t know. Verbally acknowledge before scenes that this inexperience increases risk. Form a plan for reducing risk. Discuss your own and your partners’ acceptable risk level.
- Standing consent
- Standing consent for certain types of play may exist between two or more people. The convention recommends that those people be well acquainted first.
- Even if presenters and demos have standing consent, the consent must be demonstrated, explained, or renegotiated.
- Standing consent does not extend to bystanders. Just because you have consent, does not mean that the room has given consent
- Negotiating During Scene
- “Negotiating Up” refers to adding new elements, complexity, or intensity while a scene or headspace is already in progress.
- The con does not recommend “negotiating up” in scene.
- Negotiating up in scene is explicitly against policy unless negotiating up is agreed to before scene.
- Con recommends only negotiating up with pre-existing partners, and when you and that partner have successfully completed scenes together prior to the convention in which each partner has said no to something and have discussed the topic of “negotiating up” in scene prior to the scene.
- In the context of classes, demonstrations, speeches, discussions, and practice rooms, please give a warning before using intentionally hypnotic language, even if the purpose of the language and tone is demonstrative.
Questions to ask yourself before consenting:
- Can I effectively communicate? Can I communicate verbally in scene? If not, how will I communicate in scene?
- Do I have the ability to stop something mid-scene if my partner is doing something that I don’t like?
- This is something that can be difficult for everybody, especially people who are inexperienced or in trance.
- Can I set limits? Do I already have well defined limits?
- If I know that I can’t set limits, I should not play until I can.
- Do I have enough information about the type of play, my own experience, and my partner’s experience to consent? Have I communicated that I may not have the experience to know what I don’t know if I’m doing something for the first time?
- Do not give consent to or ask for something you did not consent to beforehand in scene unless you’ve agreed to “negotiating up.” If you want to do something additional with this person, mention it for next time.
What can you consent to/not consent to at this convention? Who can give consent?
The following types of play cannot be consented to at this convention:
- Actual Death
- Being drugged or taking unprescribed substances (including alcohol) during or before scene
- Play involving live animals
- Play in front of non-convention hotel guests
The following persons cannot consent at this convention
- Intoxicated persons
- Persons under the age of 18 (who aren’t permitted at the convention anyway)
- Non-convention attendee hotel guests and staff
What is a consent incident?
- Accident: Responsibility for the accident is unclear or was not reasonable to prevent.
- A person had their consent violated due to a misunderstanding during a scene following earnest, good-faith negotiation.
- A person had their consent violated due to circumstances falling outside a reasonably thorough attempt to communicate boundaries and safety.
- A person did not receive enough aftercare because that person did not or was unable to communicate or anticipate their needs before the scene.
- Negligence: The participant caused harm due to a lack of care, attention to detail, or failure to educate themself.
- Had the ability to prevent the incident but the chances of it happening were so small that it didn’t seem worth the effort
- Didn’t account for inherent power dynamics before negotiating (such as presenter/newbie)
- Did not find out enough about the type of play to know that it was above the risk profile of the participants
- Missed conflicting information in the negotiation
- Despite providing aftercare, ignored communication that the aftercare was insufficient and did not make good faith effort to provide more or find a surrogate.
- A participant failed to communicate or anticipate the range of aftercare they might need or failed to communicate their inexperience with aftercare, resulting in an undiscussed demand on the other partner.
- Did something that is considered socially appropriate in the vanilla world, but not in the kink world (ex. putting a hand on someone’s shoulder or back, snapping a photo at dinner)
- Pattern of negligence
- Pattern of one or more of the above
- Consent violation: The participant did not get affirmative consent and acted despite this.
- Ignored “no” or safeword during item in section A
- Did not ask permission before doing item in section A
- Used power dynamics to coerce play
- Participated in an activity that had been negotiated for a scene, but outside the bounds of the time constraint of the scene (eg. engaging with play again after aftercare without standing consent for that play)
- Pattern of consent violations
How do I determine whether my consent was violated?
- Take a look at the definitions above.
- You have access to the con’s Consent Counselors during or after the convention who will act as a sounding board for you.
What happens if there’s a consent incident?
- Speak to a Consent Counselor
- Provides a confidential ear for you
- Provides emergency/surrogate aftercare
- Gives advice and provide resources on how to handle a situation
- Available to facilitate discussions of consent issues with other partner
- Available to help record “good faith” attempts to discuss consent issues with other partner for reporting, which can be helpful but not required.
- Able to help create a report to send to the Consent Advisory Board
- Reporting Options
- Speak to a Consent Counselor
- Consent Counselors can help create a report, but will not share reports with the Consent Advisory Board (or anyone) unless you ask them to.
- Speak to Convention Committee
- Convention Committee members are required to pass along all reports to the Consent Advisory Board for review.
- Contact the Consent Advisory Board directly
- Email firstname.lastname@example.org to send a report directly to the Consent Advisory Board
- Consent Advisory board a group of three people unrelated to the hypnosis community who are trained to investigate and review all reports and provide a recommendation to the Convention Committee.
- Consent Advisory Board may make a disciplinary recommendation to the Convention Committee, but will not share your report with the Convention Committee without your permission.
- Speak to a Consent Counselor
Last updated October 13, 2018.