Consent: Making it Right for Everyone in BRC
We are 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 recording 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. Children (anyone under 18) cannot give sexual consent. As the Bureau of Erotic Discourse (BED) 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 or video. Remember consent to take a picture or video is not consent to post it on your blog. And it’s never consent to sell the photo or video or use it for any commercial purpose.
Sexual Misconduct Awareness, Education, and Prevention
Sexual misconduct, while uncommon and unconscionable, can and does happen in Black Rock City. Black Rock City is built by its citizens — a community that strives to live by a set of Principles. And our Principles of Civic Responsibility and Communal Effort suggest we all have a stake in the safety and security of our fellow Burners.
If you experience any non-consensual contact, we have a team of survivor advocates who will support you. They will help you understand your rights, and the resources available to you. We have a Survivor Advocacy Center staffed with certified survivor advocates next to 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 Black Rock 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.
BRC is not immune to the potential dangers of drug and alcohol use and misuse. Burning Man Project 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 incidents of intentional dosing with intent to assault — also known as giving someone “roofies.” Participants should be aware of this and exercise appropriate caution.
It is a felony to give drugs to a person without their knowledge or consent with intent to get them to loosen up and have sex with you. Don’t do it. Ever.
Protect yourself by not accepting drinks, food or anything else from somebody unless you know for certain it is safe.
- If you suddenly feel like you’re becoming extremely intoxicated, announce loudly that you think you’ve been roofied and ask people to help you by calling for a Black Rock Ranger and medical help. Do not go off alone with anyone. Stay in or get to a group area if possible.
- If you see someone who appears to be overly intoxicated, ask them if they need help. Particularly if they are being led away by someone who doesn’t appear intoxicated, the Bureau of Erotic Discourse recommends checking in. Simply walking up and saying “Hey! How’s it going?” gives you a chance to offer help if you think it’s needed.
- 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.
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
Are things getting a little too weird… even for Burning Man? The Zendo Project is a place where you can receive support with challenging experiences, drug-related or otherwise, from trained volunteers who offer specialized peer-to-peer counseling.
Zendo locations are 3:00 and 9:00 keyholes just past C next to Rangers and Medical. Zendo is open around the clock from Monday 8/29 through Monday 9/5.
Being prepared for Burning Man includes knowing that life can be emotionally difficult on the playa. As we often say, “Burning Man is hard!” There may be times where you or your friends need support from one another, and offering this kind of care to a friend can be an immensely rewarding experience. Other times, you might need some extra help. That is what the Zendo Project is here for! Come say hello.