Positive organizing: midwest consent fest

June 1st, 2010  |  Published in Performances  |  1 Comment

Consent Fest sign

Photo by Lauri Apple/Chicago Reader

This photo showed up this week in the Chicago Reader.  Out of context, the sign seems a little strange, but perhaps that strangeness speaks to how consent isn’t always a part of the way we talk about sexuality.

The lonely, hand rendered sign doesn’t really reveal the work and consideration that fest organizers Otter Irene and Ben put into Midwest Consent Fest.  They both said it was the most involved event they had helped organize.

The event went down on May 21 and consisted of an afternoon of workshops, a  a pitch-in meal and a show featuring punk and hardcore bands, solo acoustic performers and poets.

In the week before the fest, I talked with Ben and Otter Irene about what motivated them to organize the fest and the consciousness they hoped the event would forefront.  I also stopped by the fest for some of the workshops and part of the show.

Watch an audio slideshow of the interview and photos of the fest:

Additional audio:

  • Otter Irene talks about sexism in the DIY/radical scene 

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  • Ben talks about how sex education doesn’t usually address consent

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I didn’t take any photos of the workshops because the ones I attended involved people speaking really directly about very intimate and often painful parts of their life.  There aren’t a lot of places where people can speak candidly about mental health or substance abuse and I got the strong feeling that, even if people consented to be photographed, it would still mediate the discussions.  The ability for people to get something helpful or meaningful from the event was more important than me documenting it.