Sitting in a circle with a group of six college students at Hasbrouck Park on March 18 during her third Culture of Consent meeting, Tracy Weider said she had never taken the time to think about whether or not the way she handled sex was good for her.
“I had been very sexually active but had not realized my relationship to sex,” she said. “The way I approached it was unhealthy.”
This was just one of several statements made at the “The Culture of Consent” discussion group hosted by Weider, a fourth-year geography major and environmental studies minor.
The Culture of Consent discussions were created to get students to think about their partner’s and their own boundaries, wants and desires. They aim to teach others how to have sex for the right reasons, something that most people don’t think about until those questions are raised, said Weider.
“There’s the struggle to be an object of desire and to be vocal about your boundaries,” said Weider. “Because you don’t want to disappoint the person you’re with.”
Weider was prompted to start these discussions after a friend showed her an online zine titled “Learning Good Consent.” This zine is a compilation of different articles about sex. They include short stories, personal stories and outlines from consent workshops. The zine has made a positive difference in Weider’s life and she wanted to share it with others.
“The zine gets pretty down and dirty pretty quick,” said Weider. “I got so uncomfortable. My whole body stiffened up and I didn’t make eye contact with anyone.”
The discussion can be just as uncomfortable as reading the zine.
“It can be really uncomfortable for people to come to the meetings if they aren’t used to talking or hearing about sex so explicitly,” said Weider.
During the discussion meeting on March 18, two of the people that came to the meeting stayed a few minutes before they got too uncomfortable and left.
One of the people who stayed through the whole meeting was third-year major, Ian Gallagher.
“I want there to be more of a dialogue about sexuality,” said Gallagher. “Talking about anything helps answers questions.”
The “Culture of Consent” discussions attempt to establish a safe place where people are welcomed and encouraged to come and participate under one condition: Everything spoken during the discussion does not leave the meeting.
Weider often starts off the meetings with her sexual experiences first to establish a level of openness.
“When people hear my story they understand that I’ll accept theirs,” said Weider. “Getting other people to share is just a matter of establishing a level of openness.”
So far Weider has only held three “Culture of Consent” meetings. The first two meetings were held at her house on South Chestnut at 8 p.m.
“Some people have expressed interest in having more [meetings],” said Weider.
If you are interested in attending these discussions contact Weider at Tracyjeanw@hotmail.com.