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A round-up of essential consent zines

Consent education is an important part of combatting rape culture. A fun way to learn about consent is through zines. Here are three consent zines that we think are 100% essential, with links to download PDFs. For an even more extensive list of free zines and resources on consent, see Support Boston’s reading list.

“Support” [Download PDF]

Cindy Crabb opens her Support zine with a personal perspective on healing and community, and an idea that reflects the trajectory of the zine: “In my ideal world, people who weren’t abused would talk to each other and learn from each other ways to support and understand us; their friends + lovers who have particularly complicated bodies and thoughts. and us - we would not have to be so afraid to talk to each other about ways we’ve survived, ways we’ve grown.”

This zine is contributor-based and includes a very wide variety of perspectives from the lens of both supporters of survivors, and of survivors themselves. There is a distinct feeling of community intrinsic to the zine, since so many points-of-view are included and held together by the common themes of support and healing. Another helpful part of the zine is a consent checklist that provides the reader with a framework for reading while connecting ideas about consent and support to personal behaviors. Crabb is successful at making the concept of consent something that the reader actively engages with while reading the zine.

The consent checklist is also a bit in your face and it seems like Crabb is also speaking to normative society as a hole, asking blunt questions like, “Do you think hesitancy is a form of flirting? Are you aware that in some instances it is not?” and “Do you think that if someone dresses in a certain way it makes it ok to objectify them?” So it seems like the author’s voice is coming out in a way that is challenging.  

The zine includes personal anecdotes as well as advice for people dealing with assault. Support includes lots of firsthand accounts from partners and friends of survivors and many of them are extremely honest about the often confusing and sometimes difficult position of being a supporter.

Support is an extremely helpful resource in that it also provides actual tips and advice for supporters and survivors, and this is a major strength of the zine. For instance, Crabb writes of ways to be a good active listener without crossing boundaries of the person who is doing the confiding, and includes multiple essays about the various types of support a survivor may need, and the ways in which a survivor can receive healthy support from friends and family.

“The Revolution Starts At Home” [Download PDF]

Based on a popular zine and republished as a book by South End Press, The Revolution Starts at Home provides essays and accounts addressing interpersonal abuse while offering strategies for healing and accountability. Recognizing foremost that confronting abuse necessitates multiple nodes of analysis, this anthology collects a variety of testimonials and resources, mirrored in its diversity of media, from Q&A-based fact sheets to poetry and critical essays. The strength of this anthology resides in this exhaustive approach, touching on the many intersections between intimate violence and the broad and unwieldy issues of gender politics, criminal justice, race, and ableism.

Contributors to The Revolution Starts at Home represent an equally impressive range of communities and identities, many of them active in social justice movements and their respective radical ‘scenes’; a running theme among personal accounts is the acknowledgement that abuse continues to occur deep within radical circles, and is just as likely (despite those networks) to go underreported, swept away, or silenced. A number of authors admit to being retroactively surprised or disappointed that their experiences with abuse could both be perpetrated by self-proclaimed queers or feminists and continue to be dismissed or undervalued within their own radical communities.

While The Revolution Starts at Home wisely makes no claims of comprehensive relevance, the stories and strategies coming out of this anthology cover a lot of ground, notable focusing on queer, trans, and POC experiences—accounts which might otherwise be omitted or minimized in other literature about abuse. Peggy Mooner’s “Seeking Asylum” notably addresses one of the systematic omissions in intimate partner violence (IPV) education by describing how people with disabilities can become reliant on their abusers. The Revolution Starts at Home is rife with these kinds of stories, revealing how much work is left to do in terms of understanding and confronting abuse, and initiating a powerful and thoughtful response to the ways it is popularly conceived.

“Learning Good Consent” [Download PDF]

Learning Good Consent a 46-page collection compiled by Cindy Crabb, author of Support. The wide-ranging zine includes personal and first-person essays, practical articles and worksheets, and a comprehensive outline for a consent workshop. “Hearing people talk about their own experiences with consent helps me feel less crazy and alone,” writes the author in the introduction. “It gives me hope that we will be able to change the world we live in - that we will be able to change what gets take for granted, and how we see and understand each other.” The introduction closes with an important point: “Talking about our experiences with consent, our struggles, our mistakes and how we've learned, these are part of a much larger revolutionary struggle.” The rest of the zine includes reprinted pages of Consent Questions from Support, essays on topics like “Queers, Kissing, and Accountability”, worksheets on topics like “ways to ask in the heat of the moment”, excerpts from Survivors Guide to Sex, an article by Philly Stands Up, and more

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