Agreements are the currency of safe and healthy relationships.* The Agreements for Radical Inclusion provide potential agreements for community that are useful to maintain emotional safety for everyone in a brave space, whether online or in the real world. This is one of the ways that we can choose intention and attention to guide the community experience rather than gather people in a room/space and hope for the best.
These suggested agreements are based on my research, experience, and five years of practicing radical inclusion with The Impropriety Society™. An all volunteer, sex positive community was the perfect crucible for wrestling with how radical inclusion could work, as well as how it fails if there are participants unwilling to be accountable for their personal behavior and the ways they can cause hurt and harm. I learned that agreements make violation of the shared commitment impersonal, so that when someone violates an agreement the violation that can be addressed rather than qualities of the person. People are not disposable, but they can self exclude if they are unwilling to be accountable and agree to make themselves safe to be with.
Sovereignty: Know Ourselves & Our Boundaries
To be sovereign over one’s self is to be free of the control or coercion of others – to truly direct one’s own body and life. We agree to respect our own sovereignty and the sovereignty of others. We agree to respect self awareness and determination. We do not try to fix, save, advise, or correct others. We value collaboration, cooperation, interdependence, and mutual aid.
Confidentiality & Consent Culture: Ask for What We Need & Give What We are Able**
In respect for one another’s sovereignty we practice consent. Consent includes practicing confidentiality. We agree not to share private communications with those outside of the conversation. We agree not to share what is seen, heard, and experienced inside the shared space with those outside with details that identify the participants involved.
We understand that navigating shared space means acknowledging our needs/desires and negotiating getting them met. We agree to ask for what we need/desire and we do not expect others to fulfill our request. We accept no as an answer. And we agree to give what we are able. We know and express our boundaries for engagement with others. We do not give what we do not want to give or more than we are resourced to give.
Diversity: Respect for the Complexity of Self & Others
We agree to recognize, acknowledge, affirm, accept, and even celebrate diversity, both within ourselves and in others. We honor intersectionality. We acknowledge that humans are complex beings with layers of identity, experience, and belief that may be difficult to understand, paradoxical, and/or contradictory. We do not create an “other” by excluding, dehumanizing, or treating others as if they are one-dimensional.
Radical Acceptance: Accept Ourselves & Others with All of Our/Their Gifts, Abilities & Differences
We agree to accept all of who we are – everything about our human bodies, brains, hearts, and souls. We accept where we come from; what we look like; how we work and play; the ways we name and feel our identity; our abilities, gifts, and talents; our illnesses, disabilities, brain differences, and addictions; and how we cope with the hardness of life. We accept all of the ways we do relationship, our kinks and fetishes, our gender expression or lack thereof, and our love for whomever or whatever brings us alive. We accept our failures, our regrets, and the pieces of ourselves we’d rather forget. We agree that we are capable of causing hurt or harm and we are willing to make amends when we do.
Equality: No One is Superior or Inferior to Another
We agree to equalize when we relate. We recognize that no human is superior or inferior to another. We will not seek to establish ourselves as superior to others due to our differing identities, values, morals/ethics, thoughts, feelings, opinions, beliefs, actions, etc.
Accessibility: We Work to be Accessible to All
We agree to work to make our space accessible to all. We consider physical accessibility in the spaces we gather, both in person and online. We consider accessibility for those who are neurodiverse and those who have mental health and/or behavioral challenges. We consider financial accessibility and public transportation accessibility. We consider accessibility for all ethnic, gender, racial, religious, and sexual identities.
Witness/Listening: Actively See & Listen to Others
Human beings as social creatures have a deep desire to be witnessed – to be seen and heard in fullness. We agree to hold space for all voices and perspectives to be heard. We listen deeply. We ask honest, open questions.
Express Vulnerability: Be Seen & Heard by Telling Our Story
Human beings connect through story. The antidote to dehumanizing others is knowing their story. We agree to express vulnerability with the intent of connecting by sharing the stories of where we come from, who we are, what experiences we’ve had, and what we believe about the world.
Safe to be Brave Space: Allow for Conflict & Uncomfortable Emotions
We recognize that we are smarter together. We agree to listen to everyone’s perspective in order to gain the broadest view of our issues and challenges before we make decisions that impact the collective.
We agree to invite constructive criticism. We are willing to receive feedback, be accountable for our impact, and challenge our own biases. We are willing to to learn in public and to change. We do not conflate safety with comfort. We do not conflate conflict with abuse.***
Nor do we allow violence. We do not give in to the defensive tendency to discount, deflect, or retreat. We do not violate the dignity of others by dismissing, blaming, shaming, last wording, bullying, etc. We agree to have respectful and courageous conversations that can challenge our ingrained biases and ideas. We agree to accept and sit with our uncomfortable emotions. We agree take a breath when we are hurt and we express our painful emotions with vulnerability rather than hostility.
Transformative Justice: We Work to Heal & Repair When Hurt & Harm Occur
We recognize that no matter what agreements we make or our intentions for healthy relating, we will fail. We are imperfect humans who will cause hurt and harm to one another, usually because we are in pain/crisis ourselves. When hurt and harm occur, we agree to come back to the table to heal and repair the collective relationship. If necessary, we agree to have discussion of the issues facilitated/mediated by a third side, non-impacted community members or an outside resource.
*Adapted from Haimish Sinclair and the Human Alive Harm Reduction and Intimacy Nurturing Program
**Adapted from The Circle Way by Christina Baldwin and Anne Linnea
***Conflict is Not Abuse by Sarah Schulmann
* * *
This is a draft of the Agreements for Radical Inclusion. I am open to feedback and constrcutive criticism of my ideas.
If you have something to offer, please contact me at aprilcherimagic at gmail dot com.