Love, lust and limits

QRC workshop discusses consent, healthy relationships

The Queer Resource Center hosted a workshop called “Love, Lust and Limits” focused on consent, negotiation and intimate partner violence in LGBTQ+ relationships on Friday, April 27 as part of Sexual Assault Awareness month.

The topic of consent was central to most of the workshop. “Consent is when both your body and words say yes [every] time,” said facilitator and master’s of social work candidate Dustina Haase-Lanier. “[It is] an active process of willingly and freely choosing to participate in sexual behavior of any kind with others and a shared responsibility for everyone engaging in any kind of sexual interaction with one or more consenting people.”

For a school with such a liberal reputation, Portland State has faced challenges when it comes to preventing nonconsensual sexual advances. Haase-Lanier shared statistics on bystander intervention and sexual misconduct on campus collected from the 2016 Campus Sexual Misconduct Climate Survey, which found that one out of seven undergraduate women and almost one out of three non-binary and transgender undergrads have experienced some form of sexual violence while enrolled at PSU.

“Consent is critical to healthy sex,” Haase-Lanier said. “Sex is more than intercourse and penetration.”

After consent, Haase-Lanier explained sex partners need to negotiate. “What needs to be negotiated?” she asked. “Everything. Be specific about do’s and don’ts, where can you or I touch, [and] have the conversation often and revisit it.”

Approaching the the subjects of kink and sex parties, Haase-Lanier articulated that communicating needs and stating clear expectations and boundaries early on is key. “There are healthier ways to look at [kink and BDSM] than 50 Shades of Grey,” she said. “Respect other attendees. ‘No’ does not require a reason, and consent can be withdrawn at any time.”  

Discussing what should happen in the event of a blackout or injury is also critical to safe sex when participating in kink or BDSM. “There is a lot of shame around accessing support,” said Women’s Resource Center Program Coordinator Alisha Howard in regard to experiencing sexual violence in kink or BDSM situations after having discussed boundaries, needs and wants.

Howard clarified that some people participating in kink or BDSM situations might think that because they ended up participating in acts they were not comfortable with due to both parties having different understandings of boundaries, they have to accept whatever their partner wants to do. This is not true, Howard said, and in these situations, “There is a violation of trust.”

In regard to meeting people online for sex, Haase-Lanier said, “Never feel pressured to meet someone in public if you only want to chat online.” She added, “Avoid excessive sharing early on, such as children’s names or your address.” Haase-Lanier added that individuals should meet in public, tell a friend about the meeting, and set a time to check in with someone who knows where they are.

They added any harassment should be reported to whatever online service was used. Reporting is critical, Haase-Lanier said, because if an app or online service user harasses another user, they are likely to harass others.

For any kind of sexual situation, including long-term relationships, Haase-Lanier said, “Take time as often as needed to discuss both needs and wants,” while maintaining an understanding that “just because you did [something] last night, doesn’t mean [you will] tonight.”