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In the real world, consent is not as simple as
'yes means yes.' Whether it's layers of oppression complicating power dynamics or alcohol complicating the ability to say 'yes', there's a lot to think through.

An Excerpt from the zine

By C. Mensah and H. Batten (2016)

"In feminist and activist circles the narrative around gender based violence is often the same: We exist in a patriarchy that disadvantages women, non-binary, and two-spirit folks in both their public and private life. When we understand this, we begin to see how sexual violence is just one manifestation of larger social systems designed to benefit the straight cis able bodied men, while disadvantaging others along the way. While understanding that systemic oppression is a necessary part of dismantling this violence, it seems contradictory to paint this bleak picture and then turn to 'consent campaigns' as the solution.


How can we expect the same people who experience patriarchal oppression and coercion to then get into the bedroom with cis men and assert their autonomy and give an 'enthusiastic yes'? Beyond the fact that most consent campaigns exclude queer relations, racialized folks, and other identities, at its core consent campaigns are contradictory [...]


Consent campaigns never let us talk about the real stuff. We never get to talk about how heteronormativity programs us to perform and display our intimate partnerships in ways that are often uncomfortable and unsafe. We don't talk about how we grapple with giving consent freely when we are told that our bodies and what we do with them are what determine our value, not who we are.


Under patriarchy, we know that folks in the margins struggle to understand, reframe, and act in ways that feel fully autonomous, so why do we construct frameworks that void this from the discussion? Why are we relying on narratives of gender that are inherently imbalanced to teach us how to love, care, and please one another? How can we imagine something different that includes all of our identities and experiences? How do we stop putting the onus on oppressed people to navigate their autonomy?


We know that in the context of consent that doing so continues to make us responsible for sexual interactions that may not have felt good, simply because we said "yes". It gives us no space to talk about the grey zones, the pluralities and the intersections. It continues to uphold a harmful dichotomy of consent vs. assault that does not speak to the loud, complicated and confusing experiences that people have in between."

Consent, Sex & Heteronormativity


(Language modified from RAINN resource)

In cases of drug-facilitated sexual assault, survivors often blame themselves. Remember—you are not to blame. Someone took advantage of you, and that is absolutely NOT your fault.

What is drug-facilitated sexual assault?

Drug-facilitated sexual assault occurs when alcohol or drugs are used to compromise someone’s capacity to consent to sexual activity. These substances make it easier for a perpetrator to commit sexual assault because they inhibit a person’s ability to resist and can prevent them from remembering the assault.

You may have heard the term “date rape drugs” to refer to substances that can aid a perpetrator in committing sexual assault.

How does a perpetrator use drugs and alcohol?

Drug-facilitated sexual assault occurs in two ways: when the perpetrator takes advantage of someone’s voluntary use of drugs or alcohol or when the perpetrator intentionally forces a victim to consume drugs without their knowledge.

  • Alcohol is the most commonly used substance in drug-facilitated sexual assault.

  • Prescription drugs like sleep aids, anxiety medication, muscle relaxers, and tranquilizers may also be used by perpetrators.

  • Street drugs, like GHB, rohypnol, ecstasy, and ketamine can be added to drinks without changing the color, flavor, or odor of the beverage.


Some victims blame themselves for drinking “too much” at a party or putting themselves in a “potentially dangerous” situation, but it’s important to remember that if a sexual assault occurs under these circumstances, it is NEVER the victim’s fault. The blame falls on the perpetrator.

How would I know if I’d been drugged?

Depending on the substance, the initial effects of a drug can go unnoticed or become apparent very quickly. If you notice any of the following warning signs in yourself reach out to someone you trust immediately, tell someone working at the facility you are at (some bars and venues have programs like “angel shots”), or try to get somewhere safe. If you notice these symptoms in another person, take steps to keep that person safe!!!


  • Difficulty breathing

  • Feeling drunk when you haven’t consumed any alcohol or very limited amounts

  • Loss of bowel or bladder control

  • Nausea

  • Sudden body temperature change that could be signaled by sweating or chattering teeth

  • Sudden increase in dizziness, disorientation, or blurred vision

  • Waking up with no memory, or missing large portions of memories


Preserving Evidence

If you suspect you were drugged, you can take steps to preserve the evidence in case you’d like to be tested to find out what drugs were in your system, or for the sake of an investigation. Many of the drugs used by perpetrators leave the body quickly, within 12 to 72 hours. If you can’t get to a hospital immediately, you can save your urine in a clean, sealable container, and place it in the refrigerator or freezer.

Creating a culture of consent means all actions, not just sexual ones, should be well-communicated and out of mutual respect.

Check out the images below for examples of how consent is mandatory #OutsideTheBedroom too!


This video was created by sex educator Karen B. K. Chan, and explores practices of consensual sexual communication.

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