2020 is showing us that it is important to have the tough conversations. Consent is Rad is a skater-led initiative promoting the discussions around asking for consent. Rapper, K-May is the latest one to lead the charge.
Rapper and filmmaker Kayla Cosgrove aka K-May is no stranger to challenges and real talk. She takes her music and performs lives regularly busking in the streets of Fortitude Valley in Brisbane, Australia, where locals like to party hard. She also skates in a city scene that has long been dominated by boys and men. Despite most of the dudes being super chill, women can still stand out and it is not always easy to speak out when things become sketchy, especially on the issue of sexual harassment, assault and consent. But for a rapper, words are Kayla’s magical superpower. Her killer-smooth rapping, and a background in filmmaking have both been activated for her recently released new single “Don’t Touch” and a campaign series of short films under the same title, done in collaboration with Consent is Rad.
Consent is Rad was introduced to skateboarders and researchers at the Pushing Boarders skate conference last year in Malmo, Sweden and launched the website to celebrate its first anniversary. The campaign features men, women, non-binary and gender non-conforming skaters of all backgrounds promoting the message #ConsentisRad. Always on the look-out for collaborations that can positively share healthy messages about consent cultures (and countering negative and harmful forms of rape culture) individuals are welcome to DM Insta @consent_is_rad.
With an educational focus and DIY philosophy, the campaign aims to normalise the topic of consent and how to communicate and practice it, rather than naming, shaming or blaming. Fostering a global approach, it was co-founded by myself, Evie Ryder, Tora Waldren, Millie Miljevic and other crew in Brisbane, Australia joining up various overseas collectives and individuals. This includes Pushing Boarders, Girls Shred, Girl Skate India, The Skate Witches, Skate Like a Girl, Las ChicAZ, Girls are Awesome, Skateism, Lucy Adams, Ryan Lay, Rick McCrank, Bing Lui and Kiere Johnson, Peach Sorenson, Leyla G Leon, Annie Guglia and more.
Kayla is the first time music has been included and the result includes the online single Don’t Touch (search for K-May on Facebook for links to it on Spotify, Apple and Soundcloud) and four short videos featuring interviews she filmed with musicians and skaters (incl. Jaiden Lal, Tom aka Prof Paul, Georgia Inch, Jashka, Danny Vincent, Adele Pavlidis, myself and more). The theme of consent, skating and healthy communication is something close to Kayla’s heart. Asked what she loves about skateboarding, she states, “The clarity it gives me honestly…I finally got on the board and after I just couldn’t believe how clear my head was. It was like skating and being present in that time. Completely cleared my head full of all the anxieties and thoughts that were in it. I also just like being around like the girls and pushing barriers of fear too”.
“…You’re in this trusted space and you’ve started sending me like weird stuff. That, nand the general patterns to leading to intimacy. At some stage they have to ask what’s ok.”
Explaining some of the overlooked issues of consent she explains, “a lot of women that go skating with somebody and then that guy or person hits on them. They can sometimes feel really disappointed, like I thought they were a homie. Or like yeah, you’re in this trusted space and you’ve started sending me like weird stuff. That, and the general patterns to leading to intimacy. At some stage they have to ask what’s OK”. She points to how projection can also be a problem explaining, “it can be all made up in your mind as well, like these fantasies and then like, bringing them into reality needs mature conversations around attraction and knowing your own and other’s feelings, and also boundaries”.
Kayla also shared her thoughts on digital recordings and intimacy, and abuse of that. When permission is not sort on photos and videos or if they are done coercively, then that it is non-consensual and a form of abuse. Offering advice to others, she points to how “If someone is really like trying to guilt trip me, like if they are playing with my emotions, then that’s a huge red flag”. In terms of intimacy in general, she continues, “follow your intuition. Be absolutely OK with saying no, and even if you do feel awkard emotions, that’s normal. You might feel bad saying no but you are doing the right thing”. She also proposes we could all do with more practice just communicating the issue, “Like what does consent sound like? Things like would you like to go further? Would you like this? What would you like? I like that very much. Or, I would like just a hug. Or I’m totally fine with this, and making sure the person is all for it”.
Catch her 4 part video series at her Insta @pronouncedkaymay
Photographer for Kayla Cosgrove pic: Elliott Busch
Photographer for Kim Woozy, Rick McCrank and Attita Veghese : Indigo Willing