Book Review: “Ask: Building Consent Culture” by Kitty Stryker

Consent is a vital point to leading a healthy life, not just sexually, but emotionally, physically, and mentally as well. In a world where rape culture is so prevalent, where young men get off with little to no punishment because it will ruin their future (see: Brock Turner, for example), we need to make these changes and start to learn and understand consent culture. Consent culture isn’t sex positive or sex negative, but instead it has become sex critical and is incredibly important to improving everyone’s lives in amazing ways.

Kitty Stryker is aiming to start a conversation we should already be having and to push the idea of consent forward with her book, “Ask: Building Consent Culture.” Covering the idea of consent everywhere from in the bedroom to out in the community and places in between, Ms. Stryker’s book is a striking anthology of consent and how it should ideally function throughout today’s society.

Everything from dealing with how to manage consent when you have a mental illness, to teaching children (and adults) consent in ways that engage them and empower them, to the idea that men need to be able to teach other men the concept of honor and how not to abuse any power they may feel that they have over people, and much more is covered in this book. I wish I could list every single instance and story that is told because in their own ways I found them all moving, learned something from them all, and deepened my own view of consent and consent culture.

“Ask: Building Consent Culture” teaches us that consent should start at home, within the family, and that children should be taught that they do have bodily autonomy and hugging a family member or friend is not required of them. And in chosen families rather than blood families that consent is equally important though perhaps infinitely more difficult to navigate even as adults. It goes on to demonstrate that consent culture should begin at a young age in order to help children understand that consent is necessary for asserting dominion over their own bodies or feelings. Akilah S. Richards’ article “Bodily Autonomy for Kids”, is a fantastic example of just how consent and intuition work together to keep a person safe and aware of their own personal boundaries which leads to a more well-adjusted view on consent culture as an adult.

Ms. Stryker’s book also touches on the idea of implied consent in sexual spaces and how that can lead to people mirroring those same behaviors in a society that is already heavily skewed towards implied consent. Getting an enthusiastic, informed consent is far better than assuming that “yes means yes.” To foster consent culture it must be brought out of those sexual situations and into our everyday lives and “Ask: Building Consent Culture” illustrates the point nicely. In order to have fully informed, enthusiastic consent, the sexual culture itself must change and that is something that “Ask” proposes to have happen. But in the year 2017, changing the culture around sex and sexuality is only the tip of the iceberg, because what really must change is the fabric of society itself. This book has done an excellent job of promoting this throughout the articles and stories written in these pages and is a must read for anyone who wishes to learn more about consent, to be more active in getting or giving consent, or just people who are interested in the modern sexual revolution.

You can pre-order “Ask: Building Consent Culture” on www.amazon.com for $14.95.

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