The Consent Guidebook: A Practical Approach to Consensual, Respectful, and Enthusiastic Interactions

The Consent Guidebook: A Practical Approach to Consensual, Respectful, and Enthusiastic Interactions

by Erin Tillman
The Consent Guidebook: A Practical Approach to Consensual, Respectful, and Enthusiastic Interactions

The Consent Guidebook: A Practical Approach to Consensual, Respectful, and Enthusiastic Interactions

by Erin Tillman


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With the fierce momentum of the #MeToo movement, it has become clear that the conversation around consent is in the process of major evolution. For the first time in modern history, consent is being brought to the forefront of social awareness, and society is outraged at what has been uncovered in regard to boundary crossing, sexual harassment, and sexual assault. We, as a society, need to start learning, teaching, and sharing fundamental ideas to encourage respectful behavior.
The Consent Guidebook provides a practical, easy-to-follow framework that offers practical advice for establishing boundaries and respecting the boundaries of others, complete with illustrations of consensual and nonconsensual scenarios. Over thirty sex educators, health professionals, HR managers, civil rights leaders, and thought leaders have contributed their own consent advice, stories, and aha moments to this book to offer a variety of perspectives. Topics covered include The Basics of Boundaries, Digital Consent, The Assumption of Consent and the Pop Culture Connection, How to Have Productive Consent Conversations, and Holding Others Accountable, Enthusiastic Consent with Sex, Survivor Support, and more.

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Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781546230960
Publisher: AuthorHouse
Publication date: 03/01/2018
Pages: 166
Product dimensions: 5.00(w) x 8.00(h) x 0.35(d)

About the Author

Erin Tillman, The Dating Advice Girl, is an inclusive Dating Empowerment Coach, Certified NLP Practitioner, Author, Speaker, and TV/Radio/Podcast Host based in Los Angeles, California. She is dedicated to empowering singles in all lifestyles to have happy and enjoyable dating lives that best suit their dating & relationship wants, needs, and objectives. For more than 10 years, Erin has helped singles successfully navigate through the early stages of dating through articles for various lifestyle and dating sites, TV, radio, and podcast appearances. Erin hosts and participates in dating, self-help, consent workshops on college campuses, conventions and beyond. She has been featured on Lifetime Network, Buzzfeed, ABC7 Los Angeles, and mentioned in The Guardian, Mens Health Magazine, The Washington Post, and The Chicago Tribune, just to name a few. Visit for more info.

Read an Excerpt


What Is Consent?



"Waiting to teach about consent to young adults is too late. Consent-related behaviors should begin when children begin to talk and communicate their needs. Children who are raised in an environment that demonstrates, teaches, encourages, reinforces, and expects respectful social/human interaction is key. Allowing children to beg until they get what they want may seem like the norm in many families, but as you may imagine, it can set them up to believe that it's normal to beg for what they want until the other person gives in. It boils down to allowing them to coerce a person. Coercion is never okay. When seeking to fulfill a desire or need it's imperative that children are taught to ask first. May I. ...? Will you. ...? Would you like to. ...? Do you mind if. ...? These questions should be regular parts of their repertoire as they are growing up. Respectfully accepting the response they receive is equally important. Let's not forget that it is also important for parents to respect their child's level of comfort with social interaction and expressing affection. Shaming a child for not hugging or kissing a relative is contrary to what we should be teaching. If we expect them to respect the feelings and comfort level of others, we must do the same for them."

- Molly J Wray, Health Teacher

Boundary-pushing is not specific to age or gender. Anyone can be a boundary-pusher just as anyone can be a victim of boundary-pushing. Having said that, it is important to be aware of systemic hierarchies that exist in our society that can derail accountability. Whether intentional or not, your behavior may affect others and set an example for those around you. Your actions make an impact not only on your life, but also on the lives of others.

Your desire to feel safe is just as important as someone else's need to feel safe. It is reasonable to expect to be able to go through the day without having to defend oneself from other human beings verbally or physically. We all have the right to walk in this world not having to be harassed, touched, or groped by anyone without our permission.

Associated Definitions

There are many interpretations of the word 'consent'. Let's look at a few different definitions of the word 'consent' and other associated consent-based words that are used throughout this book. A few sources are included for some of the words where definitions differed.

Affirmative Consent- Explicit, informed, and voluntary agreement to participate in a sexual act. Both parties must give affirmative consent before sex. (Oxford Dictionary)

Affirmative Consent- Affirmative consent (enthusiastic yes) is when both parties agree to sexual conduct, either through clear, verbal communication or nonverbal cues or gestures. It involves communication and the active participation of people involved. This is the approach endorsed by colleges and universities in the

U.S., who describe consent as an "affirmative, unambiguous, and conscious decision by each participant to engage in mutually agreed-upon sexual activity. By definition, affirmative consent cannot be given if a person is intoxicated, unconscious or asleep. (Wikipedia)

Cisgender- A term relating to, or being a person whose gender identity corresponds with the sex the person had or was identified as having at birth. (Merriam-Webster Dictionary)

Cisgender- Cisgender (often abbreviated to simply cis) is a term for people whose gender identity matches the sex that they were assigned at birth. Cisgender may also be defined as those who have a gender identity or perform a gender role society considers appropriate for one's sex. (Wikipedia)

Consent- Permission for something to happen or agreement to do something. No change may be made without the consent of all the partners. (Oxford Dictionary)

Consent- Getting permission for touching, kissing, or various sexual behaviors; Consent culture is becoming a wider-spread movement especially within feminist settings. If one does not have consent for a said act, the act is often considered sexual assault. (Urban Dictionary)

Consent- In common speech, consent occurs when one person voluntarily agrees to the proposal or desires of another. (Wikipedia)

Entitlement- Belief that one is deserving of or entitled to certain privileges. (Merriam-Webster Dictionary)

Entitlement-The belief that one is inherently deserving of privileges or special treatment. (Oxford Dictionary)

Informed Consent- Permission granted in full knowledge of the possible consequences, typically that which is given by a patient to a doctor for treatment with knowledge of the possible risks and benefits. (Oxford Dictionary)

Informed Consent- Informed consent can be said to have been given based upon a clear appreciation and understanding of the facts, implications, and consequences of an action. Adequate informed consent is rooted in respecting a person's dignity. To give informed consent, the individual concerned must have adequate reasoning faculties and be in possession of all relevant facts. Impairments to reasoning and judgment that may prevent informed consent include basic intellectual or emotional immaturity, high levels of stress such as post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) or a severe intellectual disability, severe mental disorder, intoxication, severe sleep deprivation, Alzheimer's disease, or being in a coma. (Wikipedia)

Intentional Community- A planned residential community designed from the start to have a high degree of social cohesion and teamwork. The members of an intentional community typically hold a common social, political, religious, or spiritual vision and often follow an alternative lifestyle. They typically share responsibilities and resources. Intentional communities include collective households, co-housing communities, co-living, ecovillages, monasteries, communes, survivalist retreats, kibbutzim, ashrams, and housing cooperatives. New members of an intentional community are generally selected by the community's existing membership, rather than by real-estate agents or land-owners (if the land is not owned collectively by the community). (Wikipedia)

The #MeToo Movement- "Me Too" (or "#MeToo", with local alternatives in other languages) spread virally in October 2017 as a hashtag used on social media to help demonstrate the widespread prevalence of sexual assault and harassment, especially in the workplace. It followed soon after the public revelations of sexual misconduct allegations against Harvey Weinstein. The phrase, long used by social activist Tarana Burke to help survivors realize they are not alone, was popularized by actress Alyssa Milano when she encouraged women to tweet it to "give people a sense of the magnitude of the problem". Since then, the phrase has been posted online millions of times, often with an accompanying personal story of sexual harassment or assault. The response on Twitter included high-profile posts from several celebrities, and many stories of sexual violence were shared. (Wikipedia)

Restorative Justice- An approach to justice that personalizes the crime by having the victims and the offenders mediate a restitution agreement to the satisfaction of each, as well as involving the community. This contrasts to other approaches such as retribution, deterrence, rehabilitation, or incapacitation. Victims take an active role in the process. Meanwhile, offenders take meaningful responsibility for their actions, seizing the opportunity to right their wrongs and redeem themselves, in their own eyes and in the eyes of the community. In addition, the restorative justice approach aims to help the offender to avoid future offenses. The approach is based on a theory of justice that considers crime and wrongdoing to be an offense against an individual or community, rather than the State. Restorative justice that fosters dialogue between victim and offender has shown the highest rates of victim satisfaction and offender accountability. (Wikipedia)

Sex-Positivity- Sex-positivity is an attitude towards human sexuality that regards all consensual sexual activities as fundamentally healthy and pleasurable, encouraging sexual pleasure and experimentation. The sex-positive movement advocates these attitudes. The sex-positive movement also advocates sex education and safer sex as part of its campaign. Part of its original use was in an effort to get rid of the frightening connotation that the term 'positive' had during the height of the AIDS epidemic. The movement generally makes no moral distinctions among types of sexual activities, regarding these choices as matters of personal preference. (Wikipedia)

Sexual Assault- Sexual assault is an act in which a person sexually touches another person without that person's consent, or coerces or physically forces a person to engage in a sexual act against their will. It is a form of sexual violence, which includes rape (forced vaginal, anal or oral penetration, or drug-facilitated sexual assault), groping, child sexual abuse, or the torture of the person in a sexual manner. (Wikipedia)

Sexual Assault- The action or an act of forcing an unconsenting person to engage in sexual activity; a rape; (Law) a crime involving forced sexual contact, variously defined as inclusive or exclusive of rape. (Oxford Dictionary)

Sexual Harassment- Sexual harassment is bullying or coercion of a sexual nature, or the unwelcome or inappropriate promise of rewards in exchange for sexual favors. In most modern legal contexts, sexual harassment is illegal. As defined by the United States Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), "It is unlawful to harass a person (an applicant or employee) because of that person's sex." Harassment can include sexual harassment or unwelcome sexual advances, requests for sexual favors, and other verbal or physical harassment of a sexual nature. (Wikipedia)

Sexual Harassment- Behavior characterized by the making of unwelcome and inappropriate sexual remarks or physical advances in a workplace or other professional or social situation. (Oxford Dictionary)

Sexually Transmitted Disease- Any of various diseases or infections that can be transmitted by direct sexual contact including some (as syphilis, gonorrhea, chlamydia, and genital herpes) chiefly spread by sexual means and others (as hepatitis B and AIDS) often contracted by nonsexual means — called also STD. (Merriam-Webster Dictionary)

Sexually Transmitted Infection- Sexually transmitted infections (STI), also referred to as sexually transmitted diseases (STD) and venereal diseases (VD), are infections that are commonly spread by sexual activity, especially vaginal intercourse, anal sex and oral sex. (Wikipedia)

Stealthing- The practice of one sex partner covertly removing a condom, when consent has only been given by the other sex partner for condom-protected safer sex. (Wikipedia)

"We start learning about consent as children. 'Is it OK if I give you a hug?' 'Do you still want to be tickled?' Silence, or laughter, is not an enthusiastic yes!"

- Lydia M Bowers, Sex Educator

Boundary Basics

For those of you who might still be trying to engage in and understand this conversation about consent and boundaries, it boils down to this basic level of respect: My body is not yours to touch without my permission, and your body is not mine to touch without your permission. At the fundamental level, it goes back to what we hopefully learned as kids ... do not touch or take what isn't yours. If it's not your property, whether that property is a tangible item or your body, you don't have permission to touch it or take it. If there's ever confusion, go back to that rule. "Do I have permission to touch that person's body?" If the answer is NO or even 'I don't know,' then don't go there, period.

Everyone's boundaries are different, which is why self-awareness is so important when interacting with each other. Maybe you know someone who might like it when you kiss them on the cheek to say hello. Consider that not everyone is going to feel comfortable with that. Even if you think this interaction is 'not a big deal,' to someone else, a kiss hello and being in close proximity could be very scary and possibly even cross a cultural boundary. It's about being adaptable and considering the other person's feelings. If you'd like to get to know someone better, practice asking for permission and waiting for their response, before proceeding with them.

As a general rule of thumb, you should not touch anyone who does not express an enthusiastic YES to being touched by you. It doesn't matter 'what you think they want' in regards to your interactions with them. Rather than assuming that someone is ok with you touching them, first get their consent to touch them or don't touch them at all. Your desire to touch someone should NEVER be more important than someone's level of comfort in regards to their own body being touched. You do not own any other individual's body and therefore it is not your place to touch them without permission. By putting yourself in the other person's shoes and stepping back from your own desires, you will better understand that not everyone's boundaries and feelings are the same as yours. In a consensual interaction, you are actively caring about how your actions are making someone feel.

Bottom line: Don't force anyone to interact with you, watch you, touch you, or be touched by you. Being overly aggressive or persistent in trying to get someone to say YES is not being respectful to their NO or MAYBE. Using someone's gender, sexual orientation, career, or lifestyle to push or make assumptions about someone's boundaries is not ok! We all deserve respect.


Consent In Everyday Life





"Enthusiastic, continued consent needs to be present in kink, sex and platonic interactions. Take 'the hugger' for example. You've met them, they generally come careening toward you, saying, 'Oh, I'm a hugger!' and before you know it, they have wrapped their arms around you, pressed their body against yours ... and squeezed. UGH!

It initially seems like a foreign concept; to ask, to check in, to state what you want, but weirdly, this typically leads to more enjoyable encounters in all realms of your life."

- Justine Cross, Professional Dominatrix

Verbal and non-verbal communication is the basis for all interactions with friends, family, and colleagues, not just romantic encounters. Hugs, hand-holding, a kiss on the hand, or even a kiss on the cheek can involve getting permission, too. When expressing interest in engaging with someone, asking May I/Can I questions AND paying attention to their verbal and non-verbal answers is important when determining someone's level of interest or engagement in an activity with you. Let's talk about hugging, for example. For some individuals, a hug from a stranger might not be a pleasant experience. Don't assume everyone wants to be touched or hugged. Don't force a hug. Get verbal consent for a hug when approaching someone by asking, "Could I give you a hug?" Wait for an answer before you proceed with a hug. A great way to initiate a hug non- verbally is to hold your arms out for a hug and let them meet you halfway, so they are able to make that decision of whether or not to engage in a hug with you. This protects you and the person you'd like to share a hug with ... the hugger and the huggee. Same with a handshake! Offer your hand and let that person meet your hand halfway if they'd like to shake it. It's very important to not assume that everyone wants a physical interaction, even if we think that it's 'not a big deal.' It's always important to ask.

Everyone's boundaries are different, which is why it's important to not make assumptions when interacting with new people or even people you know. What if someone had a broken arm you didn't know about and you just grabbed them and hugged them without asking? You'd probably feel terrible that you might have hurt them by hugging them before they had the chance to tell you that they had a physical injury. It shouldn't take a physical injury for us to have empathy and to proceed with caution in regards to someone's physical comfort and/ or boundaries. It's their body; therefore, they should have the ultimate say as to how others interact with them physically, just as you should be able to feel comfortable expressing your boundaries if you are not interested or not able to engage with someone physically.


Excerpted from "The Consent Guidebook"
by .
Copyright © 2018 Erin Tillman.
Excerpted by permission of AuthorHouse.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

Table of Contents

Foreword, ix,
Chapter 1: What Is Consent?, 1,
Chapter 2: Consent In Everyday Life, 12,
Chapter 3: Digital Consent, 21,
Chapter 4: The New Consent Standard, 32,
Chapter 5: Accountability, 54,
Chapter 6: Consent Green Lights & Red Flags, 64,
Chapter 7: Sexy Consent, 80,
Chapter 8: Survivor Support, 125,
Epilogue, 147,
Notes, 149,
Thank You, 153,

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