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The "Language Of Consent" Curriculum and Falling In Love - Elf M. Sternberg
The "Language Of Consent" Curriculum and Falling In Love
Some school districts have implemented the nationally available FLASH (Family Life and Sexual Health) curriculum, and one part I really like about FLASH is a four-day segment on The Language of Consent. The four day class is meant to "Teach a student how to formulate an assertive request, manage the emotions that come with rejection, and appreciate that only in risking rejection does one stand a chance of getting acceptance or resolution."

At the core is a simple formula: "State a fact or emotion. Describe for the other person what you'd like. Make sure you have one (and only one) alternative suggestion. Accept rejection gracefully." Many of the fill-in-the-blank examples are negative: "That makes me uncomfortable. Could you please _____?" "I get into trouble when you ____. Would you mind not ____?" But you get the idea. By setting up a context first, you give the other person time to prepare, you create a mutual ground for discussion, and sometimes you put your desires up front first.

The other day, the New York Times posted 36 Questions That Will Make You Fall In Love. It's an exercise; spend an hour with someone you're interested in, and by the time you're done, if you're honest and open, you'll have created the foundation of a great love affair. In theory.

I'm fascinated by the way the questions all lead to languages of consent. The questions all lead to statements that let the other person say, "What can I do to make that experience better?" Or "name three things that you both have in common," which could easily lead to exploring questions about how you play with those three things.

Both of these tools are actually going in the same direction: they're creating places where intimacy can (not will or should, but can) thrive, if the participants give it a chance. And really, what we need more than anything else, is an admission that intimacy, and the requisite vulnerability that comes with it, are new essentials in our lives.

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