What is consent? We define consent as a conscious, voluntary decision, with clearly stated boundaries and without coercion, or intimidation.
In the special flow space of Hyre, consent is not a box to check, an agreement to get notarized, or something set in stone. Consent means you have full agency over your body, regardless of what you wear, what you’re consuming, or who you are spending time with. Consent means you have the right to change your mind, at any time, for any reason. Below are some basics for giving and asking for consent while at Hyre.
General culture of consent at Hyre
Consent is sexy and required. Festival spaces can alter your sense of reality, especially one with Hyre passion and radical expression. Hyre is committed to personal freedom. These principals can only exist with safe space to do so. Respect everyone’s right to freely express themselves, and remember that their expression is NEVER an invitation for your advances, touches, or comments.
Consent is a community effort. This means, even as a participant it is your job to look out for your fellow flowmates. If you see someone who appears to be uncomfortable or in need of a basic need; offer support. If you see something that doesn’t feel “right” or makes you uncomfortabl ue as a spectator; speak up. You can approach the situation and check in on those involved, or come get a Hyre Manager immediately. No situation is too small, making Managers aware of potentially dangerous situations is always a good idea.
We’re here to help! Our Consent Managers and Volunteers are here to help you navigate the important conversations around consent within the magical space of Hyre. We can help you literally find the words to ask for consent, deny consent, give consent enthusiastically, and everything in between. If you need more support; we are available for peer supported conversations as well as mediation. Any situation above this level may be brought to appropriate municipal authorities if necessary.
On asking for consent
Asking for consent can feel funny at first. Asking someone you have known for years if you can have a hug, may seem strange at first, we get it. But regularly asking for consent of touch, helps all of us feel more comfortable and gives someone the opportunity to tell you how they actually feel, without judgement.
Normalize asking before touching. The more we normalize asking, “Can I…” before initiating physical touch, the safer our spaces become.
Consent is not inclusive of all time and space. Just because you touched someone last night, last Hyre, or last year does not automatically give you consent today, in this moment, in this space. Just because someone gave you consent to spank them on the dance floor doesn’t mean they are OK with a spanking while eating, or at Von’s after the weekend is over.
Each moment and each space requires new consent. We cannot possibly know what someone is feeling each moment without asking. It is your job to confirm that touch is desired before making the assumption that they want it now.
Be aware of body language. Before you consider asking to touch someone, consider their body language. If someone looks generally uncomfortable, a hug can help for sure, but it can also put them in a position where they don’t feel like it’s OK to say no. Vice versa: just because someone’s body language is open, playful or even provocative it never gives you the right to bypass asking for consent.
Consent for one thing isn’t consent for another. This applies to kink spaces too. If someone said you can spank them, that doesn’t give you permission to kiss them.
The absence of no is not a yes. This should be self-explanatory. Be an adult, and be aware when someone is CLEARLY unable to give consent due to their physical, psychological, or emotional state. If someone says “maybe later,” it equally does not mean you can touch later without confirmation.
Consent is not coercion. Consent should be given freely, without coercion or reciprocation. For example if you have a cookie, and someone is brave enough to use their words and ask you for one, your answer should not be dependent upon whether or not they are willing to touch you. I’ve seen this example too many times. “Can I have a cookie?” Followed by “Can I have a kiss?” This is coercion. Either freely give the cookie as a gift without expectation, or say no. If you are looking to trade the cookie for energy, money, or time; explain that, but physical touch is NOT a bartering tool at Hyre.
On granting and denying consent
Advocate for yourself. No one knows how you are feeling in your body and mind but YOU. So you are in charge of your body and mind. If you clearly do not want someone to touch you; it is your job to clearly state it.
No one can give consent for you. Your partner, friend, community, etc cannot give consent. Only you can give consent. Having your friend tell someone you would accept sexual advances or touches from them is confusing, immature, and creates triangular communication.
*Ask for help.* The above does not come easily for everyone. In fact, learning how to turn someone down with non-aggressive communication is a skill that takes time to cultivate. This is why we have a team of Consent Advocates and Managers to help you in ANY sticky situation.
Saying no is not rude, it’s an act of self-love. Hopefully you have learned this in your adulthood, but many of us carry around the ideas instilled in us as people-pleasing children or subservient humans to work relationships and so forth. Unlearn this now. You are not bad or wrong for not wanting something. You are perfect just as you are and your ability to say no makes you even more amazing.
If you are unsure, say so! It is equally OK to respond to an inquiry of touch with uncertainty. Maybe you haven’t had enough sleep, or food, or water, or space alone to be certain. That’s ok. Don’t agree to something you might not feel great about later. It’s your job to let others know where you’re at. No one can read your mind, so tell them it's “maybe later,” “let me think about it,” “ask me again after I have put some food in my belly,” and so on.
You don’t owe anyone anything, really! Including a reason. No is a complete sentence. Of course it’s nicer when followed by thank you, but it stands on its own. If someone is pressing you for a reason or explanation and you are not comfortable, please report the incident to Hyre Managers immediately. Your privacy and boundaries will always be respected in this space.
You reserve the right to change your mind. Maybe initially you thought you might be interested in physical touch with someone and throughout the course of a conversation or any amount of time; you’ve changed your mind. That’s OK! Your job is to explicitly convey that your feelings and boundaries have changed. Don’t feel bad. Better to be radically honest, than allow someone to engage in physical touch with you when it’s not fully wanted.