Turn the Page: The Consent Guidebook
I think the third Friday of the month is one of my favorites! I get to read just about anything I want and then write about it!! Anyway, the book we are reviewing and talking about in this post is The Consent Guidebook: A Practical Approach to Consensual, Respectful, and Enthusiastic Interactions by Erin Tillman, The Dating Advice Girl! First of all, let me tell you that this book is wonderful! I will tell you why in a few moments, but I wanted to make sure I said that up front, in case we (...I) get lost in the sauce and go off on the tangents that seem to make me happy.
This book is 150 pages of HOT FYYYYAAAA! But, at the same time, it is a simple, easy read, worthy of attention and time. Y'all know how I feel about consent. To me there is no sex, there is no relationship, there are no interactions without it. Without consent, what you are doing, how you are interacting is all about you; everyone else be damned. Considering that people are all about their “good intentions” let’s start by making sure we actually set our intentions for every interaction by actually communicating those intentions so people aren’t left guessing.
3 things I Love About The Consent Guidebook:
It is short. For me when a book is short, there is next to no reason for you to not take up some time to read it. In addition to being short in page length, it is short in its simplicity to read. Sometimes short books can be the most complicated to read because an author has thrown in every $10 word they can think of and didn’t do a great job of stringing them together. That is not the case with this book. It is both simple to read and short in length. It packs a punch!
It is straight to the point! There is no beating around the bush with this one. It lets you know what it is about upfront and then goes straight into it. It gives you various permutations and allows you to try and place yourself in the shoes of another person to better understand what their perspective could look like based on your acceptance or refusal of their boundaries. (I get that it can be hard to hear “No” but this book helps with that, too!)
Perspective! As in, this book offers various perspectives. I often talk to my clients about the pluriverse, a concept introduced to me by Dr. Zelaika Clarke. The idea is that though everyone could watch and experience the same thing, they would never understand it and experience it in the same way. The main point for me being that it means multiple truths exist and coexist with one another. No individual’s perspective is wrong per se, because they have experienced whatever the phenomena is from their individual perspective with all the baggage they bring forward which shapes their lens. With that in mind, this book is great about getting various people’s perspectives on consent. Every few pages there are quotes from other sex educators, health professionals, civil rights leaders, etc. who offer their perspective and “aha moments” on the concept of consent. It allows for the reader to know that Erin’s perspective is ONE perspective of MANY. Your's truly offers 2 quotes in this book, one is anonymous, and the other has my stank on it. The fullness of my thoughts on consent as it pertains to Black women is written in a Blavity article I did a little while ago.
But What About Mental Health?
If you haven’t noticed, I am trying to be more explicit about how things relate back to either sexuality or mental health. For me, all things are connected in a “duh” sort of way, but I can forget that going to school to specifically study sexuality and mental health is not everyone’s path. So, I am making effort to be more explicit.
The ways this book relates back to sexuality is pretty obvious. It is about consent afterall. Making sure that you have set your intentions with your partner or partners BEFORE you start a sexual interaction. But, if you re-read above, I mention a few other interactions that this book can be more than useful for. Everytime you are having an interaction with someone, you can let them know what your intentions are and then follow through accordingly. Think about it, in school, often times the teacher, presenter, etc. will tell you what the objectives are and maybe even give you an idea of how they intend to get to where they are going. I can tell you that when I did my first keynote at the National Sex Ed Conference: White Unless Otherwise Specified Colorblind Sexuality In a World Of Living Color**, I made sure to give my overview and objectives. Why? Because it sets people at ease! (That’s the mental health part). When someone knows what you intend to do, and you have communicated those intentions (and, in appropriate settings, they have had time to give feedback regarding those intentions), it reduces the anxiety they may otherwise experience!
Think about how you get those butterflies when you first meet someone. Is it because you really like them? Or is it because you like them AND you have some anxiety around what’s going to happen? I am willing to bet that if you really examine it, it is the latter, not so much of the former. Another example, when you are called in the the adult principals office, you know, your supervisors/boss’s office, but you have no idea why, you might be running through all the work you did and maybe didn’t do so well and are wondering if this is the day you will take the walk of shame to your car escorted by security with a box of your belongings in your hand. That is anxiety. And when you are about to have your first sexual encounter with someone and you don’t know what the hell they might do, it can be anxiety provoking.
PRO TIP: when people are feeling super anxious about what is going to happen, they are less likely to be fully present with you-- sex can be made to more enjoyable if you talk about what you intend to do upfront so that all involved can be mentally present for the sexual rendezvous instead of figuratively hyperventilating in their heads trying to convince themselves they are okay...I digress
That’s why I love this book. It teaches you to:
Examine what you want and what your intentions are
Communicate those intentions
Move forward with the permission of the other parties involved
The Docs Recommendation:
Let’s do everyone a favor and read this book. Then let’s think about our interactions and how we can make sure we get consent so that we can set all minds at ease and also lessen the number of people who will ever write the phrase #metoo You can buy a copy The Consent Guidebook by Erin Tillman from the Annodright affiliate page.
FYI I will be doing a giveaway! WIN a FREE copy of The Consent Guidebook by Erin Tillman!! How do you enter? Click below to subscribe the blog AND write a comment below. The winner will be chosen next week when we have our guest blog post by….ERIN TILLMAN!!!
**Wanna watch the keynote? Here it is, for your viewing pleasure!