At Chicago Rope, we believe that teachers, presenters, and other community leaders should not only teach technique, but should also strive to model responsible communication and interaction with students. In order to create a positive learning environment, we have established guidelines for attendees and policies for our presenters, volunteers, and staff. Collectively, this code of conduct is designed to provide guidance for dealing with situations where power dynamics may complicate communication about consent. It is not intended to police people’s private lives but to set standards of behavior that we seek to uphold as an organization.
In crafting this statement, Chicago Rope affirms our commitment to education about consent and communication and acknowledges that there are systemic issues within both the larger rope community and our society as a whole that are beyond the scope of policies like this. We view this code of conduct not as a complete solution, but as a starting point in a much larger effort to create the community we want to be part of. We are sharing it with the public to make our values clear and demonstrate our commitment to upholding them.
Ask permission before touching anyone, their ropes, or their other personal belongings for the first time. Although consent granted at one point does not necessarily extend to all later situations, we know that it can be awkward to ask permission each time you interact with the same person or group. Therefore, we leave it to our presenters, staff, and attendees discretion to determine when to verbally re-establish consent after it has been previously granted at the same event. When in doubt, ask again.
When receiving permission to touch, stay within the scope of the situation for which consent was granted. For example, if a presenter asks for and receives permission to show a particular friction, this does not necessarily constitute permission to continue on to further stages of the tie on different body parts. Similarly, permission to touch or tie someone in an educational context is not consent to play.
We understand that it might not be possible or practical to request explicit consent prior to engaging with someone in an emergency situation. We request that all individuals use their best judgement in these situations and operate within what would be considered reasonable caution for the situation at hand. As emergencies are difficult to predict, we will deal with any issues that arise during these situations on a case-by-case basis.
Respect the identities of our attendees. Avoid language that is racist, sexist, or transphobic. We offer name tags with preprinted pronouns and request you use the pronoun specified by each attendee’s nametag, or ask if you are unsure. Whenever possible, avoid using gendered language to refer to other people’s bodies. When in doubt, ask attendees the terms they would like to use to describe themselves and their bodies. Please refrain from making generalizations about gender that might not apply universally. If you have any questions about this policy, please reach out to a Chicago Rope Staff Member for clarification.
We ask for feedback from attendees after every one of our events, and encourage our attendees to approach us in person or contact us online via email at [email protected] or through our website contact form. We take criticisms and concerns seriously and expect our presenters to be open and responsive to the feedback they receive.
Chicago Rope has developed internal policies for our staff, presenters, and volunteers that address specific issues relevant to how we want to conduct ourselves as an organization. These rules only apply to our presenters and staff and do not contain any enforcement mechanisms outside of our own organizational structure.
We consider presenting to be a service to the community, not a way to find new play partners. In order to establish a clear separation between teaching and personal relationships, we have established certain periods of time during which we ask our presenters, staff, and volunteers not to play or engage in sexual conduct with students who they meet for the first time at our educational events or related teaching engagements, including private lessons. Existing relationships are exempt from this policy, as are social events that do not include a formal educational component.
The amount of time we ask our representatives to wait before playing with new people depends on their role. For volunteers, we ask that they wait until at least 24 hours after the event, and only if they are on staff at that event. For our teaching staff, including staff instructors, TAs, and guest presenters, we recognize that there is a greater power dynamic and responsibility. We ask our organizational leadership and all other staff with teaching responsibility to observe a 14 day waiting period before engaging in play or sexual relationships with any students they meet for the first time at our educational events. This applies regardless of whether they are teaching at that event.
Chicago Rope may also choose to establish longer waiting periods for other situations, such as ongoing courses. When such alternative waiting periods exist, they will be clearly communicated to all Staff Members involved.
After the waiting period, we expect our Instructors and Staff Members to use their best judgement when engaging in sexual or play relationships with people they meet at our events. We do not believe that a relationship should not start simply because the initial meeting occurred during a situation in which one person was in a position of unequal power over the other, but we do ask our presenters and staff to be cognizant of the influence of power dynamics when choosing to engage in play, sexual contact, or ongoing relationships with people they meet at our events.
Consequences for Instructors and Staff Members whose behavior does not uphold our standards, as listed above, can range from a request to change their behavior to being uninvited from presenting at or volunteering for our event in the future. While Chicago Rope policies only apply to our own events, we may take into account information from other venues about behavior that runs counter to our code of conduct in making staffing decisions. Further, if we become aware of serious ethical violations, such as sexual assault, by a presenter scheduled for Chicago Rope prior to or during their scheduled appearance, we reserve the right to cancel the event and/or book another presenter in their place.
Chicago Rope has additional policies that apply only to our presenters, including staff instructors and visiting guest presenters. In the interest of transparency, we are sharing these policies with the public.
For all Chicago Rope classes, presenters should arrange and negotiate with co-presenters, demo tops, or demo bottoms ahead of time. We expect that our presenters will serve as exemplars of good consent practices throughout their interactions with their co-presenters or demo partners, including follow-up and aftercare.
While we do not want to dictate how a presenter teaches, we advise against asking attendees to volunteer for demonstrations meant for the entire class to see. Presenters who wish to ask workshop participants to volunteer for demonstration must announce their intent to do so in advance and only work with people who have explicitly opted-in to serving as demonstration partners.
Presenters should never ask someone to participate in a demonstration intended for the entire class unless that person has previously indicated a willingness to do so in a context where they have not been singled out for this purpose. Additionally, we ask that our presenters demonstrate consent in an explicit manner for educational purposes, including negotiating whenever possible, contextualizing the consent of co-presenters, and establishing what debriefing will take place with co-presenters.
We give our presenters a wide degree of latitude to teach what they want, as long as it fits within the overall format of our event. The material that a presenter teaches should match the class description that they submit. Presenters should be able to clearly articulate the learning objectives of their class and explain both the merits and downsides of the approach that they are teaching. Intensive presenters should provide detailed descriptions of what they will be teaching for each day and time period so that prospective students can assess whether the intensive is right for them.
Please arrive 30 minutes prior to your class to work with our set-up staff to prepare your classroom. You are welcome to bring materials to distribute to the class if you wish. If you require any special equipment or setup please let us know several days in advance of your event.
Chicago Rope is always happy when our policies, statements, and other written materials serve as a model for other groups. We grant permission to any group who wishes to use any of our organizational materials, in whole or in part, or to substantially paraphrase material that we have written, on the condition that Chicago Rope is credited and that a link to the relevant page on our website is included. Please contact us if you have any questions about using our material for your group.