Cover of Learning Good Consent: Building Ethical Relationships in a Complicated World which features two kids sitting on a dock, feet over the water

Learning Good Consent: Building Ethical Relationships in a Complicated World

by Cindy Crabb Author

Collecting the original zines Support and Learning Good Consent into one volume, Cindy Crabb takes us on a tour of the promise and perils of sexual relationships. Building ethical relationships is a vital part of human existence, but the interpersonal dynamics of sex, consent, abuse, empathy, and support can get complicated. This is an indispensable guide to both preventing sexual violence and helping its survivors to heal. Includes a foreword by Kiyomi Fujikawa and Jenna Peters-Golden. (Short Discount)

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Comments & Reviews


"has a practical bent, with sample questions to kickstart reflections and examples of workshop activities. ... The contributors ... attempt to be frank about how identity and privilege shape their experiences of sexual consent. "


"With a front cover cartoon of two young folks earnestly chatting out on a dock, the zine resembles a pamphlet you'd pick up in your junior high guidance counselor's office, only this offers powerful, complicated information (instead of shallow questions and uncomplicated answers): how to be clear and direct when you communicate what you want and don't want. This collection of stories, narratives, quizzes, and questionnaires shows what consent looks, sounds, feels, and tastes like, for the consentor and consentee. ... Learning Good Consent is packed with resources: reference URLs throughout, plus a list of books, Web sites, and zines on the inside of the back cover."


"Learning Good Consent is more of an educational tool than a zine to be read for entertainment, although any good zine should teach you something. The intent of this zine (issued along with Crabb's publication Support dealing with domestic abuse) is to educate people—gay, straight or bi—on what the boundaries are in sexual relationships in terms of consent. Contained within are various essays of personal experiences by a host of different writers as well as lists of questions designed to help the reader better understand what constitutes sexual consent. No means no always, but other things can mean no as well. Nothing is ever in black and white (ok, the pages of this publication are printed in black and white), and there can be gray areas to consent. Crabb and collaborators seeks to help define those gray areas and hopefully change peoples' attitudes about sex and sexuality."


"When Antioch College established its verbal consent policy back in the early 90s it was easy to have mixed feelings about it. Obviously anything to prevent rape is a good thing, but telling people how they have to talk during sex seemed crazy -- the beauty of sex is that it's supposed to be private and personal in a way that there's nothing you can do or say that is fucked up or wrong...with consent of your partner. And there's the rub, establishing consent is so crucial, especially amongst people as dumb as we all are at 19 or 22 that it's hard to argue with any of the perspectives in this book. More interestingly, it's revealing how to many folks consent can be just as freaky a turn on as any so-called deviance."


This year my new years resolution is to actively practice good consent. (Here's my working definition of consent: making sure it's alright before/during/after you initiate physical or sexual contact.) I didn't hear about consent until I started college a few years ago, but once I did it started changing how I looked at my own sexuality and how I have sex. In fact, it's still changing. I think that there's a lot of responsibility that goes into practicing good consent. Not only does it involve being aware of your partner, but it also involves being aware of yourself, looking at your past, examining how it affects you now, and thinking about how you want your sexual future to be. As Cindy Crabb says, "learning our boundaries is a life long process". For many of us, it also means changing the ways that we have sex and unlearning what we're taught sex is supposed to be like.


" ... a comp zine on the topic of consent and includes such pieces as The Basics, Desiring Consent, Queers, Kissing And Accountability, Patterns, Positive Consent For Dudes Who Get It On With Dudes and a host of others, plus a reprint of the consent questions from Support zine, which is pretty eye-opening and thought-provoking in itself. Should be standard reading for anyone who has sex or is going to have sex. "


"This week I started reading a new zine that's hot off the presses: Learning Good Consent. It has really revved me up for the new year. There are submissions from people and organizations all over the country with folks giving advice, telling about their experiences, and saying really honestly "I have never been able to figure out a way to talk comfortably about consent" and then trying to do it anyway. Whether you've been practicing consent since your five-year-old self asked that cutie on the playground if they wanted to hold hands, or you don't think you know much about it at all, I *strongly* urge you to check this out."


“ … a compilation zine, put together by Cindy Crabb (of Doris zine, riot grrrl press, of brilliance in general) on the subject of consent, picking up where the Support zine left off. If you aren’t familiar with these zine projects I recommend investigating them, (go to their website, or Microcosm has them too) because they are for everyone, not just survivors of abuse or sexual assault or rape. Basically, Learning Good Consent is a very mixed group of writing, some of it more personal and some matter of fact. For example there is a huge list of questions to ask yourself and potential partners, almost like a worksheet, to get you started thinking about consent.

There is an excellent article by Nick Riotfag about the consent dynamics of queer relationships between male-bodied people that has such an amazing and perceptive well-written analysis of gender socialization and constructs. I felt highly informed despite my own identification as a female practicing mostly heterosexuality. These are some worksheets (from the Philly Stands Up collective that works with both survivors and perpertrators to deal with sexual assault) that go over ways to understand what is and isn’t consent and to find ways to deal with and break patterns.

Also, the Down There Health Collective has a workshop on Sex and Communication and they included the discussion points, goals, and tools around this topic such as assumptions of gender, power, privilege, boundaries, sexually transmitted diseases or infections, and so on. There’s lists of abusive behaviors that one could use to identify what they are experiencing/imposing, communication tips; basically an incredible resource.

I strongly urge people to pick this up, especially if you don’t think you need it or know anyone who needs it. We need to be aware of the issue of consent and we need to have information available to people who are often isolated, ashamed, stuck, and unable to change things by themselves. This zine is just a starting point, really, but I think it’s extremely important and I’m so grateful that it exists.”