The "island" model is unsustainable.
In working against oppression, boundary-crossing, and sexual violence, communities often arrive at a narrative that creates an expectation of flawless behavior: namely, that when someone acts badly, they are "kicked off the island," which is reserved only for people who have never hurt anyone and never fucked up. But everyone fucks up to some degree, and so the island will eventually be empty.
Meanwhile, the island’s population must constantly debate whether so-and-so’s behavior is bad enough to warrant being exiled. When "victim," "not-abuser," and "abuser" are fixed, unchangeable identities, responses to violative behavior, especially sexual violence, are not sustainable.
Restorative Justice is a system that centers the idea that when violence occurs, it affects everyone, and the entire community must heal. In a system of Restorative Justice, everyone has a responsibility to hold accountable the person who caused harm, and to help them change into someone worthy of rebuilt trust. The "island" narrative goes away — we all have the potential to cause harm, and people who have caused harm should not be shunted off as pariahs, but recognized as complex and connected members of our community who are worth keeping around.
Transformative Justice is a system that emphasizes preventative action on a community level, rather than focusing on assigning culpability to the person who caused harm. Transformative Justice asks what the community must do to create and support safer spaces, and to ensure widespread cultural competency in communicating needs and boundaries.
Neither Restorative Justice nor Transformative Justice rely on the state, the courts, the police, or the prison industrial complex — entities that respond to crises with further violence. Instead, Restorative Justice and Transformative Justice respond to a crisis by working to dismantle oppression and strengthen the community.
"No Means No" and "Yes Means Yes" are not enough.
"No Means No" presumes that consent exists unless someone actively revokes it. This approach puts the burden on the object of aggression to halt the aggression, rather than putting the burden on the aggressor to determine whether their behavior is wanted.
"Yes Means Yes" is better than "No Means No", but it’s an oversimplification of a process that`s too important to oversimplify. Consent is complex, and it must be an active process for all parties.
There are relationships where we genuinely don’t need to ask explicit permission before every physical touch — where our relationship is such that we feel confident that a kiss or a butt-grab is generally welcome, or where we feel confident that if our partner is not in the mood, they’ll communicate that.
To try to deny the existence of relationships with that level of nonverbal communication would be to exclude a large portion of reality from our discussion.
But how do you know if you’re in that kind of relationship? Meta-communication — communication about how all parties want to approach communication with each other — facilitates negotiation about play, and it allows that negotiation to be as effective as possible. Meta-communication can include questions and statements like:
It’s easy to think that expressing and asserting boundaries in social contexts is rude, and that doing so might be "making a big fuss over nothing." That fear is often the result of rape culture having a sturdy cultural foothold. Let’s normalize positive communication and consent beyond sexual relationships and spaces.
Social consent often relates to touch. Different cultures and communities have varying concepts of what kinds of social touch are understood to be acceptable and non-invasive. For example, hobbits might often touch conversation-partners on the arm as they chat, while elves might touch this way very rarely, and so an elf might perceive a chatting hobbit as very rude and physically invasive.
It’s important that we be mindful when we decide how to touch — sticking to the lowest level of touch is often best in an unfamiliar situation or with a new person. Feeling safe feels good and feeling unwelcome pressure against physical boundaries is a turnoff, so it is in everyone’s best interest that all touch in these spaces be consensual.
Common fallacies that make people think it’s okay to touch someone without asking:
Figuring out what you want and communicating that to your partner(s) is a two-step process.
Answering a "What do you want?" question right away often results in answering out of instinct. You might pressure yourself to give the "right" answer, or the answer you want to be true, without considering all of the relevant factors. Build an opportunity for self-check-in into your negotiation process, and it will make your communication with your partner(s) more effective.
You deserve a moment to check in with yourself and make a decision consciously, thoughtfully, and genuinely. You might ask yourself:
Once you’ve asked yourself these questions (or similar ones), you are in a better position to communicate with your partner(s) about what you want.
Over time, you can get more and more comfortable with saying and accepting answers of "no," "yes," and "I don’t know" and with making a safe space for any of those answers. As you experience discomfort with this process, it’s helpful to identify what stands between you and feeling comfortable, and troubleshooting ways to make that easier.
Keep in mind that developing this process, while it may seem small and self-indulgent, is a revolutionary and healing act. It works against rape culture, trauma, and the dominant cultural paradigm, and that results in comfort (and pleasure!) for you and others. How does that feel?
The following behavior is grounds for Futurefuck staff to intervene:
Futurefuck uses the Buddy System to foster an environment of mutual support and mutual accountability.
If you feel that someone has crossed your boundary, or if you are concerned before the event about someone’s presence in the space, we encourage you to let a staff member know. We are committed to:
If someone tells you that you have crossed their boundary, we also encourage you to let a staff member know, keeping in mind that:
Possible solutions may include:
We may seek the help of buddies — buddies of complainants (with consent) and the subjects of complaints — in order to strategize and facilitate a response. For example: If someone makes a complaint that Gimli is talking loudly and disturbing other attendees, we may ask Gimli’s buddy, Legolas, to help Gimli be aware of his own volume.
We have no time-limit for you to make a complaint. If you realize three hours later (or three weeks after the event) that you feel bad about something that happened and want to talk to us about it and seek our support, you still can, and we will listen.