Burning Man organisers stress importance of sexual consent at festival, despite nudity and 'Orgy Dome'

Emails sent out reminding ticket-holders that the spirit of free love does not mean basic rules around sexual activity no longer apply

Colin Drury@colin__drury
Sunday 26 August 2018 14:47
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It is a counter-culture extravaganza long-known for attractions including the 'Orgy Dome' and its tradition of attendees getting naked.

But organisers of the Burning Man festival in the Nevada desert have been reminding the 80,000 people turning up for the eight-day event on Sunday that it's central spirit of free love does not mean basic rules around sexual activity no longer apply

In a post #MeToo age, emails have been sent out reminding ticket-holders that appropriate behaviour is expected at all times. the Reno Gazette Journal reports.

"Scandalous costumes and nudity might be considered inviting. (Others) automatically think consent is implied, but implied consent doesn't exist," said Donna Rae Watson, director of the festival’s Bureau of Erotic Discourse camp.

"Just because we aim to be sexually liberated doesn’t mean we are. In the Burn community, you run into this attitude where we welcome the stranger but sometimes that translates into: we have to accept their behaviour. That's not how it should be."

The festival's on-site Sexual Assault Services department receives up to 20 reports of alleged sexual harassments or assault each year, said Burning Man spokesman Jim Graham.

Many of those involve leering or grabbing, which are not considered sexual assault under Nevada law. Last year, two people were arrested on suspicion of sexual assault.

Ms Watson said her group was founded in 2005 after a woman was sexually assault at the festival the previous year.

It tapes posters around site that define expected standards of behaviour and give out badges with slogans such as "consent is sexy".

"Our purpose is to bring consent front and centre and incorporate it into the ethos of the culture, where boundaries and our bodies are respected," Ms Watson said.

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