Consent: Making it Right for Everyone in BRC

Burning Man is committed to making our city safe. We are family in Black Rock City, and we always need to take care of our own. 

Consent is the cornerstone of a healthy community. It’s simple: whether it’s a potential sexual encounter, physical touch of any kind, something requiring permission that will radically alter the experience of another person, or involves the recording of someone’s image or voice, you are responsible for getting verbal consent before engaging. It is neither ethical nor acceptable to proceed without that person’s awareness and clear consent. An impaired person cannot give consent. As the Bureau of Erotic Discourse reminds us, “Silence is not consent.”

If you see someone who needs help, offer it. if you see someone being treated any way but wonderfully, step in and be an advocate or contact a Black Rock Ranger. We are all in this together.

As The 11th Principle: Consent! group says, consent extends beyond intimacy and encompasses many aspects of our interactions in Black Rock City, including:

  • Touch — Just because you hugged someone yesterday doesn’t mean you can surprise them with a hug today. “Surprise contact” isn’t always wanted, even if it’s affectionate.
  • Kink — Consent for one thing isn’t consent for another. If I said you can spank me, that doesn’t give you permission to grope me.
  • Sex — Consent can be revoked once it’s been given.
  • Gifts — Disclose what is in your gifts, even if it’s just essential oils. Some people have sensitivities or allergies.
  • Foods — Disclose the ingredients, as one person’s innocuous ingredient can be someone else’s allergy.
  • Photography — Ask before taking pictures. Remember consent to take a picture is not consent to post it on your blog. And it’s never consent to sell the photo or use it for any commercial purpose.

Sexual Misconduct Awareness, Education and Prevention

Sexual misconduct, while uncommon and unconscionable, can happen in Black Rock City. Black Rock City is built by its citizens — a community that strives to live by a set of Principles. Our Principles of Civic Responsibility and Communal Effort suggest we all have a stake in the safety and security of our fellow Burners.

We encourage anyone who experiences or witnesses sexual misconduct in Black Rock City to report it immediately to law enforcement, our Emergency Services Department staff, or a Black Rock Ranger.

If you experience any non-consensual contact, we have a team of survivor advocates who will support you. They will maintain confidentiality, and  they’ll help you decide whether you want law enforcement involved or you just need someone with whom to talk it through. NEW* for 2019- we will have a special room staffed with  survivor advocates behind the medical station at 5:15 and Esplanade. Look for the red cross, then ask one of the medical staff there for directions to the room.  You may also go to any Ranger or ESD location and they will help get you connected with our advocacy resources.

We need everyone’s help to foster an educated, empowered and safe community.

Read more on the website

Your Well Being

BRC is not immune to the potential dangers of drug and alcohol use and misuse. Burning Man and its partners in health and safety, including law enforcement, believe in the importance of harm reduction. Here are some things to remember:

  • Always be hydrating. Bring your own water wherever you go and be sure to get enough electrolytes.
  • Get enough sleep.
  • Eat healthy, nourishing food.
  • If you don’t know what’s in something, it’s best not to drink or eat it. 

There have been isolated incidents of intentional dosing with intent to assault sometimes referred to as “date rape.” Participants should be aware of this and exercise appropriate caution. If you feel like you’ve been dosed, seek help immediately. If you see someone who appears to be overly intoxicated, ask them whether they need help.

If you or someone around you needs help, seek out a Black Rock Ranger, medical personnel, or law enforcement officer. They are there to ensure your safety and will assist you.

Volunteers from the Zendo Project and the Green Dot team of Black Rock Rangers are trained to help people going through challenging emotional processes. Both groups offer safe spaces in BRC. Seek them out.

Personal Boundaries

Black Rock City can be an erotically charged environment. You can help prevent sexual harassment and assault while ensuring sex-positive free expression thrives. Know and express your boundaries. Ask about and respect the boundaries of others. Look out for each other, including anyone you encounter who might be in distress. If you see behavior that concerns you, contact a Black Rock Ranger.

The Zendo Project for Psychedelic Harm Reduction

Things getting a little too weird… even for Burning Man? The Zendo Project is a place where you can find support during particularly challenging experiences, substance-related or otherwise. Trained peer support volunteers offer peer counseling to individuals having a difficult or overwhelming experience but who don’t require medical care. Zendo will be open 24/7 Monday through Monday of Burn week, located at the 3:00 and 9:00 portals behind ESD on D street.

This is important: You are responsible for your campmates. Don’t expect to dump your friend with these amazing volunteers and then go party. Taking care of your friends in need might be the most important thing that happens to you out there, and the Zendo Project is there to help.

NOTE: Zendo is an independently provided resource that is not affiliated with or provided by Burning Man Project. Questions about Zendo’s services should be directed to zendoatmapsdotorg  (zendoatmapsdotorg)  . Burning Man Project is grateful for the work that Zendo does for the community.