Consent Culture and Intentional Relationships with Dr Meg-John Barker

This week, Hannah chats to author Dr Meg-John Barker about consent cultural, and the difficulties of being consensual in our sex lives and relationships when the whole of cultural is non-consensual. MJ discusses the limited definition of what we see as sex, and the importance of solo sex and knowing our bodies and what we want. They also chat about the pressure we put on romantic love, and how we value this above all other kinds of love. Finally, they talk about communicating with your partner, and how there is no one relationship style that is easier or better than others.


What we chat about…

  • How culture perpetuates the idea that we owe people sex- even sex books can encourage you to have sex that you don’t want

  • The limited definition of what we see as sex, which typically involves a penis and a vagina, but this definition needs to be expanded

  • How we’re taught about consensual sex (sometimes!) but this often doesn’t translate into consensual relationships, and we instead are taught to mould our partners into who we want them to be

  • Shifting the script around consent - we can learn from marginalised communities, who have developed this script and approach sex, relationships and boundaries in much healthier ways

  • The script around a hookup - that not having sex is seen as a failure of a one-night-stand, but as long as consent happens, the night should be seen as a success

  • Looking at self-consent, and knowing our bodies and what we want

  • The danger of overriding our bodies, and how we’ll do things for others, to succeed, to be ‘normal’, but often won’t listen to our bodies and what we actually need

  • Not having compatible sex drives with your partner

  • The important of solo sex, which can include masturbation, reading erotica and watching porn.

  • The dangerous notion of someone being your everything, and how this can keep people in unhealthy relationships, or make people leave healthy ones

  • Putting pressure on romantic love and how this pressure increased as the popularity of religion decreased, and how we see love as another box to tick.

  • What is relationship anarchy? People understand monogamy in different ways, and MJ places value on equalising the different kinds of love we have in our lives

  • Learning how you and your partner best communicate - even if this is absence of communication (distance makes the heart grow fonder!)

Useful Links


Dr MJ Barker is the author of some popular books on sex, gender, and relationships, including Queer: A Graphic History, How To Understand Your Gender, Enjoy Sex (How, When, and IF You Want To), and Rewriting the Rules. They are also co-host of Meg-John and Justin podcast and website.

Find out more about MJ on their Twitter and website.




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Hannah Witton