This is the third part in #theCONSENTconvo series, an ongoing public conversation campaign on consent. has teamed up with international award winning journalist and host of The Spin, Esther A. Armah to bring you these on air and online conversations with Black women and men. They share how they learned about consent. Find the entire convo here.

“I had to unlearn that consent dampens the primal, pleasurable aspect of courtship, seduction, romance,” says Sofia Quintero, a young adult novelist, television screenwriter and television producer.

Quintero is responding to my question about what she had to unlearn about consent in order to create healthier, more loving relationships.

Quintero is a contributor to this week’s #theCONSENTconvo, my public conversation campaign on consent via The Spin, my weekly international podcast that airs across the United States and internationally in Ghana and Nigeria of West Africa. Sofia is joined by Shani Jamila, an artist and the Managing Director of New York’s Urban Justice Centre.

#theCONSENTconvo is a conversation I am holding with Black women and men. We explore the personal, cultural, familial, societal and political notions of consent and how those notions shaped our relationships to ourselves, to our bodies, to sex, women, men and power.

This week I ask, how do you make consent sexy? What did you have to unlearn about it?

Bringing sexy back – actually, it really hasn’t ever been there – to consent means we have to reframe and reimagine consent. Doing that requires some unlearning.

It’s a challenge. But, it means unlearning a fundamental element of our current toxic masculinity. The part that makes pursuit after hearing no, desirable – and specifically a crucial element of what it means to be a man; to pursue, to continue to pursue, to pursue at all costs.

Quintero agrees: “We’ve eroticized and popularized pursuit without permission.”

New York Times best-selling author, activist scholar, and television host of VH1 Live, Marc Lamont Hill, agrees. Hill joins me in this week’s focus on brothers talking consent for #theCONSENTconvo.

Hill says: “I think so much of masculinity is inherently unhealthy. I’m not looking at healthy masculinities. I’m not looking at getting rid of toxic masculinity; I’m trying to destroy the very notion of masculinity. It’s born of unhealthy ideas around dominance and power and violence and hatred – similar to whiteness”.

In reframing consent, one specific theme is the idea of seeking and finding pleasure in permission. Jamila argues: “One of the things we need to consider is the presence of an enthusiastic yes, versus the absence of a no.”

Indeed. So often consent has adopted and focused on the “no means no” approach. #theCONSENTconvo invites us to explore all the ways and reasons we say yes. When you have said yes, what prompted you to say that? What informs our yes?

Hill explains: “I’ve never thought about my yes. I’ve never thought I had a choice. There were times I engaged in sexual encounters because that’s what I thought I had to do.”

#theCONSENTconvo is calling for a consent-positive environment alongside a sex-positive environment.

Quintero concludes: “That continual yes – that is powerful to eroticize.”

Hill agrees: “We need a world where consent isn’t just normalized, it’s popularized.”

Listen to the full conversation with Sofia Quintero & Shani Jamila here:

Listen to the full conversation with Marc Lamont Hill here:

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