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consent culture needs you (and your art!)

Image © Scout and Max

Image © Scout and Max

Calling all Lipsters: want to work towards abolishing rape culture with the chance of having your creativity seen? Newcastle-based consent workshop instructor, Nissa Lee of Secret Strength Self Defence is spearheading a grassroots project which aims to do just that. The OK Danger community collaboration of consent inspired artworks is broadly themed around sexual agency and is looking for artworks, photographs and other printable media to ‘support the creation of consent culture’.

Being broadly themed, participants can express whatever emotional response may arise in asserting one’s sexual agency and the rights of all to this freedom, ranging from rage for having consent breached to joyous proclamations of the right to say yes, no and maybe. Nissa highlights that the OK Danger project therefore calls for little beyond an imagination of a world beyond rape culture and a passion for advocating sexual agency.

‘Using art allows people to dream and we can be freed up from some of the depressing realities of sexual violence in society,’ Nissa says. ‘Art allows us the permission to dream of better worlds.’

While OK Danger is open to everyone with the need to send a message about sexual violence, Nissa has a specific goal to encourage expression from those who have experienced it firsthand. Acknowledging thoughts on sexual assault can be hard to verbalise coherently – let alone to vocalise – the use of a visual medium to convey messages is something Nissa has thought hard about.

‘We want to encourage people to reclaim their skin and personal space,’ she says.

As such, the therapeutic capacity of the creative process is aimed to allow people to ‘love and grow and explore their own sexuality’.

Engaging with one’s sexuality hones back to the project’s namesake and Nissa’s profession which routinely provides people with options to assert their needs and heal to overcome past harms. The concept of “okay danger” refers to situations, particularly in intimacy, where there is safety when exploring something that puts any party on edge. This could be, for example, where someone who has had a negative experience with bondage tries it again when the conditions are thoroughly negotiated to ensure they can stop and have cues to indicate what they want during the process. As such, artworks should be sex positive as Nissa emphasises the right to say yes is as important as the right to say no.

‘We say yes to consent and good sex… healthy relationships and being brave and exploring what a fulfilling, risky but safe sexuality is to us,’ she says.

Artworks submitted in OK Danger will mainly be part of an online exhibition with a view to exhibit in community art galleries in Australia and elsewhere based on the scope of crowd-sourced funding. Currently, the project has received interest from people in New Zealand, Canada and the USA to both contribute and exhibit works via affiliated anti-violence groups. Collaborative works are also accepted, so feel free to get some friends round and ponder what consent means to you. Consent culture is something that needs promoting, so get your pencils, pens and photographic equipment and get working.

If you are interested in contributing to OK Danger, submissions close September 30. For more information, contact Nissa at secretstrength.newcastle@gmail.com, or via the Secret Strength Self Defence blog.

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