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In Light Of #MeToo, Burning Man Festival Reconsiders Sex Workshops

Good move.

In light of the #MeToo anti-sexual harassment movement, and amidst changing times for gender, sexism, and feminism, the Burning Man festival, which takes place every year deep in the Nevada desert, is re-evaluating some key events that take place on the Playa (or at least, helping them come into the #MeToo era).

The Reno Gazette-Journal reports that the temporary, anarchic city of 80,000 people, which springs up for one week every summer, is taking a fresh look at what constitutes consent, and whether the free-wheeling, everything-goes atmosphere of Burning Man, where clothes are optional and art is everywhere, should have a few more rules and regulations.

The first agenda item for consideration is consent.

The camps are littered with sexual "workshops," sexual artwork, and nudity (and there's even a "Bureau of Erotic Discourse" (or B.E.D.)), most of which aren't affiliated with Burning Man, but which host events where Burners engage in sexual activities.

Freedom and exploring boundaries are key elements of the Burning Man culture, but in recent years, "newbies" have shown up to the playa without a clear idea of what's off limits and how to handle interpersonal relationships. Not every nude person is looking for a hookup, and not everyone who gives you a hug wants to take you to bed (or, er, B.E.D.). As a result, local police receive "between five and 20 reports of alleged sexual assault each year."

People are rarely arrested.

This year, Burning Man is bringing consent "front and center," and B.E.D. will do its best to lecture Burners on how to engage with their fellow campers, anarchists, hula-hoopers, and huggers safely.

"Our purpose is to bring consent front and center and incorporate it into the ethos of the culture, where boundaries are respected and our bodies are respected," B.E.D.'s spokeswoman told the Reno Gazette.

If you're planning on Burning this year with the 80,000 of your closest friends, you should know that, according to the rules, consent is "never implied," and that people are free to wear what they want (or not wear what they want) without fear. Always ask before you touch, kiss, or bed someone, and use good judgment (something some of the regular Burners lament).

Ed note: The original article listed the "Orgy Dome" as a target of the consent regulations. This was incorrect and we unfairly maligned the Orgy Dome, which is not officially affiliated with Burning Man and requires "informed, enthusiastic consent to participate." We regret and retract the error and have made the appropriate corrections.

 
 
 

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