Today, Tandia & Tara are speaking with Jenna Boucher. Jenna is a great resource when talking about the importance of everyday consent. In this episode we define informed consent, talk about how consent is being demonstrated during the pandemic, the impacts of the porn industry and consent in the workplace.
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The Harmony Project’s diverse stakeholders through expertise and experience are working together to end sexualized violence in the Bow Valley. The Harmony Project is funded by the Ministry of Community and Social Services on behalf of the Government of Alberta.
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These are the sources referenced or used as research for this episode:
Ethical Porn referenced in podcast
Thanks for tuning in to our first season of let the truth talk. My name is Tara,
and my name is Tandia. We are recording from Banff, Alberta, Canada. Before we get started, I would like to honor and acknowledge the traditional lands of Treaty Seven upon which Banff is located. With this land acknowledgement, we recognize that we have a responsibility to understand our history and the spirit and intent of Treaty Seven, so we can honor the past, be aware of the present, and build a future on peace, friendship and understanding. We would like to give thanks to the sacred grounds that were shared by the Stoney-Nakoda First Nations of the Chiniki, Bearspaw, and Wesley, the Blackfoot Confederacy, comprising of the Siksika, Piikani, Kainai First Nations, and the Tsuu T’ina of the Dene people. We also give our thanks to the Metis Nation of Alberta, Region 3
Our first season follows along with Sexual Violence Awareness Month. This year our theme is consent through the ages. We believe that anyone at any age can practice and teach consent in everyday life. Follow along with us as we bring in local experts to discuss how we can create cultures of consent. Before we get started, we just wanted to give a listeners note, while we are talking about everyday consent, the topic of sex, sexual assault, and other forms of violence are brought up in our conversations. listener discretion is advised.
Welcome, this is episode number three. Today we have Jenna Boucher Talking about consent with the young adult population. Now something with young adults is the age range has changed throughout the years, used to be under 20s. And then kind of the 25 year olds. Now I know with the Canmore young adult network, we've defined it under 35s. So essentially people who are just starting to maybe like finish up high school University kind of first or second jobs. So this kind of younger adult population. to get started, Jenna, why don't you tell us a bit about yourself?
Yeah, so my name is Jenna. I use she her pronouns. Originally, I am from Ottawa. There I was a child and youth counselor for two different organizations, I ran and worked a queer youth space for queer and trans youth to access out kind of in the more conservative rural areas. And then I also worked with youth who were either gang involved or involved in human trafficking, that sort of thing. Then I moved out here about two years ago and started my career out here with the YWCA as the anti violence counselor, and educator and then moved on from you guys, but still very much like in contact with you and doing different contracts. And that so I'm very thankful to be back out here again, and talking about this stuff with you.
Fantastic. Thanks for joining us.
Yeah, of course, happy to be here.
So right off the bat, I just wanted to know how have you seen young adults practice everyday consent,
just mainly through interactions. Consent can be seen, I find a lot of times consent gets tied to any kind of sexual activity, which it's really important to because you have to have consent for that to happen. But even when you look towards social media, like how you hanging out how you communicate different kinds of friendships, whether they're more romantic or more platonic. Like all through dating, consent is practiced in pretty much everything we do, like whether anytime you kind of ask somebody to question or that kind of thing, or like asked to borrow something asked to hang out, Ask them how they're doing all of that involves consent
With that definition of consent, and what does informed consent mean to you and your everyday life?
Yeah, so when I'm thinking about informed consent, I like to think of the acronym fries, one because like potatoes are heaven on earth and the best thing to eat, but also when you think about fries and how it's spelt when you when we think about consent, we want to make sure that it's freely given. So you've got the F, you want it to be reversible. So if anything happens, or if like whatever you're doing, the person doesn't like feels like maybe that's not for them, they're able to reverse it. They want it to be informed. They get the eyes so this makes sure this makes Sure that person has all the information to make the best and healthiest decision for themselves. We wanted to be enthusiastic, we want to make sure that the person is willing and wanting to participate in the activity. And we want it to be specific as well, we want to be specific to what that activity is, and not just a generalized consent. So informed consent is having all the information so that each person with in that activity can make the best decision for themselves or for the group as a whole.
It's a great definition. Thanks, Jenna
I'm interested to hear on how this might be practiced in light of the pandemic, if you have any examples, or Yeah, if you just want to expand on that a little bit, I'd be really interested to hear.
Yeah, so when we think of how, you know, COVID has really kind of taken over and really changed how young people are social with each other, it's changed our dating, and it's changed how we're hanging out. I mean, even specifically, here in the bow Valley, it can be a rather hard place to live successfully alone, mainly when we think to finances, just different living situations, house cost, like the gas, even just like groceries, it's a higher expense out here. So a lot of the times it means folks who would generally see living alone do have roommates, or it's maybe it's two couples, that kind of thing living together. So it's really important that when it comes to the bubbles, and the like the way to keep each other safe, that people are communicating, and they are keeping each other informed. And they're making decisions that the both groups can like participate in. So I mean, even thinking for myself, I have a I have one roommate here, and she's partnered, and so when she sees her like her partner outside, or if he comes inside, it's best that like, we're always communicating, informing each other. If anything's happened at work, if we've seen anybody, specifically with the the restrictions in Alberta with having bubbles, and supposed to be staying in your own household, it's just important to keep each other informed, even though sometimes that means you have to have the hard conversation of, hey, you were just with somebody who now has some symptoms, that means you can't come over, we can't see each other for two weeks, that kind of thing. And I know that like that could be extremely difficult for somebody to be like, you know what we're supposed to hang out tonight, or you were supposed to come over, this has happened. And now we can because it's sometimes it might be really easy to kind of forget about that and and be like, no, I still want to see this person, I still want to hang out. I'm not gonna say anything. So it hasn't affected me yet. But that if you were to do that, the other person doesn't have all the information to make the best decision for themselves on what's safe for them.
Yeah, that's a good point, I know that something we noticed with the pandemic is just a lot more respect with regards to personal boundaries, something very comfortable with touch or being close together, or being in the car type of thing. Whereas other people, it's, it's not, not within their comfort, they're not consenting to that activity. And so the pandemic has kind of brought up this topic of Everyday Consent in a way that everyone is having to actively practice it daily.
Yeah. I mean, like, even, I've got a dog, I've got to walk my dog every day, a way that I still on social and hang out with my friends is walking the dog. And so there's times where, like, when all of this kind of first started, one of my friends came over, they came up with a partner, and they were both wearing masks, and I walked outside and I didn't have a mask on because in my mind was like, oh, we're outside should be fine. But then it was just checking in with them. And like, Hey, I'm noticing you, too are wearing masks. Would you like me to wear masks during this walk as well? And they said, Yeah, and I was like, cool. Yeah, go ahead and grab a mask. And it's as simple as that just checking in when you notice anything, because consent really comes down to communication and being able to have sometimes hard and uncomfortable conversations or even doing things that like I wasn't like, it wasn't a thought of mine to wear a mask outside. But it is also important to know that Yeah, when you're walking in, you're generally not walking like six feet apart from people you are outside. Which I mean from whatever research they've shown is like, different but it's still important that if you are within those two meters to be wearing a mask, and it was just something that, you know, I noticed and attract in a war mask and wearing a mask didn't affect me didn't harm me in any kind of way. And it made it easier for the three of us to hang out in what we all felt was a safer way.
That's such a good example because you didn't take them saying yes, I want you to wear a mask as a bad thing, you know, corrected their boundaries and they're like we feel more comfortable wearing masks together and to enjoy our time together. Can you wear a mask and you're not like So they think I'm dirty. That's not the point. That's just where their comfort level is. So, yeah, great example.
And that can be a very hard thing with consent as well, when we, when people put in boundaries, a lot of times well, insult, like in some situations, people can see somebody putting in a boundary is a bad thing. When really boundaries are there to protect relationships. Sometimes it might feel like that boundary is then a barrier, and it is uncomfortable. And it's not something that you fully understand. But generally, when people put in boundaries with good intentions, they're doing it to protect and to like to help foster the relationship and they're not doing it to hinder it, or break it down in any way. Yeah, it creates an honest foundation. So that may be going forward, they will feel comfortable going, Oh, not wearing a mask around you. Yeah, but they have to see that you're trustworthy and honest. And they can communicate with you first. And having those skills in everyday life makes it easier, when it really matters in those tougher situations. Like you said,
Yeah, for sure. Um, so switching gears a little bit. How have you seen consent being practiced or not being practiced in your workplace? Your not your workplace, specifically, but workplaces in general?
Um, I think it really just depends where you are working. I mean, I've switched over into hospitality now. And it's something that I do really enjoy. And I like and I thrive in I mean, being a previous, like, being previous involved in social work stuff, like it's, I am very much like a people person. So it's interesting to switch my skills over in that direction. But the biggest way I see it in hospitality is the in the language that hospitality workers have with each other. Like before you ask anyone to do something, or help you out in any way. Generally, the rules of hospitality is you say, like, may I before or so like candy? If we were on the same team together, say, I needed you to run food for you, for you. I'd say hey, Tandy, may I? And then you would either respond yes or no. And then I would let you know, like, what the question was, which is something that I've really appreciated. But I think it's even just like how, like, that shows a lot of respect amongst the team. And that's really helpful. And I think that would be like the biggest way I see it, specifically in hospitality. That's such a great practice.
Within that workplace, how is the relationship between the customers that are coming in and those in the workplace like more specifically, to the kind of like food and beverage establishments,
Um for the most part, like we've we've had really good, like, I've, I've had really good experience with customers. And I think we're living in a time now to where you can definitely see things start to change. Specifically, when you're serving just like I find, when I serve folks like around my own age, or within like this younger adult practice, to be mainly like, more respectful, like more aware of themselves, and like how they, like carry themselves within the restaurant. But serving as an interesting thing that is very much like you're going to enjoy food, you're going to enjoy drinks, and the service can really make or break that. And so it's interesting, because it's also interesting, because the whole idea of well, the whole like practice of tipping. So sometimes, you know, if you are looking to, like make extra money, like depending on how you serve can be can help you with that. But that also means that sometimes depending how you serve people might take how you're interacting with it like misconstrue what kind of like what's happening. And I know that it can be sometimes seen as flirting or other things like that which can be sometimes uncomfortable within the workplace. So it's really important that you do have a manager, or specifically HR practices and policies to speak to so that if that it does kind of happen to you within the hospitality, that you're able to kind of debrief it with the manager, at least know that your company has your back if anything gets like weird or uncomfortable, specifically because like, I mean, when you think about
certain, like certain restaurants in that I know they have to wear, like different uniforms, specific things. Like when I was in Ottawa, there was one restaurant where the woman always had to have their makeup done like hair on point they had to wear, like short black skirts and like a black fitted, revealing top with heels and then the men in the restaurant were trying to, you know, fight back I guess I didn't show like the hypocrisy behind it. So then the men started wearing the uniform as well or just working their whole shifts and heels just to show like the managers and the different people like how kind of ridiculous that was, you know, and that, you know, sometimes females within the service industry. Like things happen, it can be extremely uncomfortable for them. Or when you're serving somebody, even when you're just being your usual normal, regular self, you get hit on and it's uncomfortable and gross.
So knowing that, especially our community, hospitality type jobs are kind of very abundant. And for a lot of our young adults is kind of their first step into the workforce. What are some steps that a young adult could take just to ensure that they feel safe and protected within their workplace?
I think knowing your rights, like within your workplace of like how customers can treat you or how other people because it can, it can sometimes be the team and not just other customers. So I think it's important to go through all the manuals, speak with your managers, during your interview, be like, Hey has like any kind of assault or harassment or anything like that happened to you before, how was it handled. And I mean, I know from working at the Y with our creating cultures of consent, I think it's really important that different hospitality places within the bow Valley, take this training and able to enter and can put it into practice. Because a lot of the times people don't know their rights when it comes to working. And I mean, people are here to make money, and it is an expensive place to live. So sometimes they don't want to lose their job or step up or to say anything. So I think it's important from the get go just to speak with your managers see what the policies are, make sure that they align with your values. And if you have any questions about them, maybe talk about the creating cultures consent and seeing if there's a way that the Y can either bring that in or train some of the folks who manage the places that
Yeah, that's a great answer. I think that knowing your rights within like what your workplace policies are, and then even Alberta, occupational health and safety, or other workplace standards, and could be really helpful. I remember when I was starting, I was just a young, little fledgling, I was like 17, going into the restaurant industry, and at the restaurant I worked at and you had to wear that uniform. And part of it was you had to wear heels, and you'd be on in these heels for eight hours. And if your feet started to hurt, even if they were bleeding, you always had to ask permission to take your shoes off and switch into flats. And I don't know if that's against any standards, but like looking back, I should know if that was okay or not.
Yeah, that's interesting.
Yeah. And to have that them have that power over you. It was really interesting. So yeah, I just, I appreciate that answer of knowing your rights.
Yeah, understanding them before you start. And I mean, at every place I've worked so far, my manager has kind of like, always had my back. And I know, like, I've had just kind of one uncomfortable situation, the hard thing is, like, I very much identify as a queer woman. So sometimes what I'm serving, like different things can happen. And a lot of times it is like men who will kind of misconstrue what's going on.
And yeah, like, this dude totally made me feel uncomfortable, didn't feel great about what was happening during the service, talk to my manager about it, and she was able to, like, come out and have my back. And that was a really good opportunity for me. But I think that the big difference in that situation is, I've been in the field, I know social work, I try to stay educated on these topics. And I also like know, my rights and like, know, what makes me feel uncomfortable. So it's easy for me to kind of step up, and have that trust in my manager to know that, like me speaking out, about a customer know, like, I wasn't going to get in trouble for that. So it can be really hard, though, kind of like back to what you're saying. tandia when you're 17 just starting out, you know, you have this job you want to do so well you want to impress so it can be really hard to speak up for yourself when you are just starting out and wanting to like do so. Well.
Yeah, I think that's one of the the key points we're trying to reinforce during Sexual Violence Awareness Month is that consent can be practiced at any age. So whether you are 14 and starting to apprentice or your first job or 48, and in your fifth job, like this topic of knowing your workers rights is so so important and being a part of a team that you know, has your back and is able to step in and guide you. And then even just aware of the resources within your community.
Yeah, and like say something were to happen and you like the manager didn't back you up in a way that you that that made you feel comfortable, like there are different resources within the community that you can go to like I know firsthand, you can go to the Y And they would be able to support you in different ways to access other resources to, you know, kind of get something going or either get education training or get, like other people to understand, like what's been happening.
Yeah, exactly. All right, let's talk nudes. We know that being online social media, especially in this age of tempo and the pandemic, where we're not necessarily going out and meeting people, but we're doing so online, how can people practice everyday consent online?
Again, it's a lot, it seems tricky, and kind of weird and fumbling and strange specifically, or no one here, like maybe meeting somebody new and trying to be like, a little bit sexy. But it's just really important to outright ask the questions and to have the conversations around it. And I know like, yeah, with a pandemic switching, so many people have to switch over to FaceTime or switch over to phone calls, or, like, switch over to more online things and less in person. And, and so sometimes having that kind of like you're not in person, so sometimes it's easier to send a text and be like, hey, what are your thoughts on nudes? Or hey, like, when was the last time you were tested? Or just to speak about those things? Because sometimes, you know, it's easier typing than having eye contact, like in person. This is an awkward, strange conversation. But like, a lot of it just comes down to straight up asking and be like, how do you feel about receiving a note or
anything along those lines, or just making sure that if that is something that the like you two are practicing within a relationship, that you're both aware that you know, the picture stay within, like, just they're just for you to and they're not to go anywhere else? And if they were to go anyone else, like when there are laws against that, I think is really just checking in and communicating and ask him.
Yeah, I think like, within our PSA, one of the comments was, I practice everyday consent by asking before I tagged someone on social media, because you don't know that person, comfort level with having their posts their picture posted and just by like, it's your your photo, yes. But by tagging them, they're now a part of that. So I think always checking in with that is hugely important.
Oh, yeah. And like, even, like even taking pictures of somebody was like, Hey, can I take your picture? Or if there's like a group shot of you all together, and be like, Hey, I'm gonna post this picture. Does anyone like, is anyone uncomfortable? If I post it? Would you like not like me not to tag you? Would you like me to cut you out? Would you like me to like, post something else instead. And consent is really just like in those kinds of ways. It's just making sure that the people feel comfortable and safe and heard, and that you're not accidentally harming them by not knowing what they are comfortable or uncomfortable with.
going a bit back to the online dating. relationships can look can look a bunch of different ways. So in one of those might be polyamory How might someone practice consent in a polyamorous relationship or starting a polyamorous relationship?
I think what like with that, it comes to being open. And so if you are starting a new relationship with somebody being like, Hey, this is something I practice, is that something you're comfortable with, and giving the person the, like the chance to make that decision for themselves. And there's actually a pretty good book around, you know, staying open, or like, if like, not staying open. But if you're looking to practice polyamory, and it's called the ethical slut, and it's by Janet W. Hardy, and Aussie Easton.
Unknown Speaker 24:03 CHECK SPEAKER
And that has a really good way of breaking down the communication styles and a lot of that has to do with you know, having uncomfortable conversations, being okay with somebody making a decision that might that you might not agree with. But it is what's best for them and what's best for you. And it's just really, truly being so open and honest and vulnerable. And being able to communicate your feelings and how you're feeling and why. And being able to talk with your partner partners about that. So that like the everyone within the relationships that you're practicing, feel safe and feel heard, and feel good. Yeah, it's that informed piece. Like if you're new, and you're about to get intimate and they don't know that you're not monogamous. Yeah. The you kind of want to have that conversation with them before you become intimate so that they know exactly what they're getting into how many people you're with. If you've been tested.
Unknown Speaker 25:00
Unknown Speaker 25:02
yeah, cuz it doesn't give them maybe you're on a first date. And this person's like, Oh, this person's really great. I'm really liking this. But maybe the person you're on a first date with does practice monogamy and the other person practices polyamory if you're not open about what you practice and how you practice, that the person like each person doesn't get to make the most informed decision for themselves moving forward. Because say the monogamous person, like didn't know that that person was practicing polyamory and wanted to move forward, like towards another date. But if they had known that they were polyamory they would change that, like, how are they we're moving forward with the relationship. It just doesn't give everyone the tools to make the best decision for themselves. Yeah, yeah, setting those boundaries can be hard, but it feels good. Once you get that skill.
Yes, dating online. I started telling people after a couple of dates, and they'd ask you what you're looking for, I'd say I'm looking for a relationship, but it doesn't mean with you. Because then they knew that that's what I wanted. And they're gonna try and get a casual relationship with me. But they also know that I'm not going to try and like, lock them in right away? Yeah, like your mine, you're never leaving. And it's hard. So I know that, like, I think sometimes people can have trouble communicating those things or setting those boundaries. Because by setting that boundary, a person is going to respond in a way and you're not quite sure. But sometimes it might mean they respond in a way that means they see you less, or maybe they like you differently, or the relationship changes. But just because that relationship changes, it has nothing to do about who you are as a person. It's about how you two are able to meet each other's needs or wants.
Totally. And yeah, they might not be the right person. But hopefully, it just means in the future, you're gonna have more quality relationships. Yeah, because you're saying what you want. And hopefully they're saying what they want, for sure. And that's what I think consent and like open communication, specifically informed consent, where you have to have some harder conversations. That's what it comes down to.
Alright, so the last thing we wanted to touch on was porn.We touched on porn a little bit talking about how children will have access to porn. It's just on the internet, it's easier to find than a parent might think. However, it currently is being used as a source of sex education for a lot of young adults. Do you have any suggestions or thoughts on making this a safer platform?
Unknown Speaker 27:54
Yeah, there's I think there can be a lot of harm reduction work done through porn, specifically the way people consume it. I mean, there's all different kinds of porn and people access porn for different reasons. Sometimes, you know, especially specifically as teens, they hear a some kind of like sexual act, and they're like, What is that, so you might turn to porn to learn about it. But as we get older and like, change how we consume porn, I think it's really important as a person to look at how they're accessing it, and what they can do, that might reduce the harm with it. Because, you know, we don't know how the actors or actresses are being paid. We don't know the conditions if they're being safe. But there are a few ethical porn sites that I know of, that might be good for folks to access if they are looking to
like explore this or use this as like a like more of an education tool.
JB 28:45 Check names of pornsites
There's different things like pink label, there's, there's Elsa. If you're looking to be like more on the audio side, or just like kind of let it listen to more like erotic, things like that. There's Dipsy. There's Quinn, I know there sounds a pleasure, I think it's just really important that you are aware of the porn you're consuming. And like if it is safe, or not specifically, just based off of whatever your own kind of like moral or value compass is. But there's definitely research that you can do out there. So that you can still that you can find porn that is more ethical, and that you can still enjoy it without it bringing harm to another human.
Um, yeah, thank you for that. And I also just want to know, what are your thoughts on only fans?
Oh, yeah. So only fans is from my understanding of it. It's a way for folks who, like are in sex work, it's a way for them to get a lot more well, not a lot more but like get all the money from what they're producing. And from my understanding, there are really good like regulations and guidelines from it so that the performers on it are getting paid. They're consenting to what they want to do. You They can block different people from following them. But it makes sure it like it makes it so that like, they are getting the money for the work that they are doing. And it's not kind of going to other places, whether it's a pimp, or somebody else along those lines. And then that what a healthy platform, I think we're like, we're always gonna have sex, everyone's gonna have porn.
Yeah. I mean,
By having these platforms and knowing that the person wants to be there, they're enjoying it. If it's a video of two people, both of them want to be there. It sets up a healthier example, for consumers and not the mass produced porn where the female often just looks like she's crying. Yeah, that time. Yeah.
That's very true. All right. Well, thank you so much for your time. Jenna, we really appreciate you coming out talking to us, and sharing all your expertise, expertise. Yeah, of course. I'm happy to be here. And thanks for thanking me for this. Hopefully, something within this conversation is maybe you know, struck a chord with somebody and they're able to learn something new. before we sign off, we just wanted to ask you, how do you practice everyday consent,
communication, asking questions, having hard conversations, checking in with friends, all those great kind of things.
That is wonderful. Thanks for your time. Jenna, it was great chatting with you.
And well, yeah, of course.
Yeah, I will talk to you next week.
Sounds good. Looking forward to it.
TK 31:39 ( Copied and pasted other outro- so the times will be wrong below)
Thank you for listening to let the truth talk.
Tandia WH 20:29
For more information on the harmony project support services, links to other resources or to check out the show transcript please visit harmony project.ca.
Tara K 20:39
Our Intro Music is by Scott Holmes.
Tandia WH 20:41
And of course this whole production was made possible by the support from the harmony project committee and the marketing team at the YWCA Banff.
Tara K 20:49
Please be sure to subscribe and like our show to be notified when future episodes are released.
Tandia WH 20:55
creating a culture of consent starts with each and every one of us. Let us know how you're taking part. We'll talk to you next week.
Transcribed by https://otter.ai