Richard M. Wright, MA is a Jamaican New Yorker who lives in Florida. He facilitates art-based workshops, and does speaking engagements that focus on building consent culture, honoring personal boundaries, bystander intervention & healthy, accountable masculinities. He is also available for consulting on these issues.
Richard also provides counsel for
1.people in romantic situations who are navigating issues of patriarchy,
2. boys, men and masculine folks who want to explore healthy masculinity, and
3. people who need support and guidance going through chemotherapy and radiation treatments.
He studied Expressive Arts Therapy at the California Institute of Integral Studies, where he received his Masters degree. He also completed the Healthy Masculinity/ Bystander Intervention training with Men Can Stop Rape. With these skills, Richard harnessed the arts to create workshops that use movement, drama and play to develop empathy, integrity, accountability, and a value for our own and each other’s boundaries and humanity. He brings these skills into his counseling as well.
Richard was recently published in the very timely, groundbreaking anthology “Ask: Building Consent Culture,” edited by Kitty Stryker. He also writes self-published pieces that critique current events from an intersectional perspective.
While Richard focuses on empowering boys, men and masculine folks to unlearn toxicity that we have absorbed through institutional sexism and patriarchy, he also works with all genders and populations in schools, community centers, workplaces, conferences & more.
As a cisgendered straight man, he strongly believes it is important for him to be accountable & represent by doing this important culture shifting work towards a paradigm that respects the boundaries and humanity of women, girls, femmes, and everyone else too.
He identifies as an “intersectional afrofuturist;” and also likes to paint, dj & work on his novel. Welcome!
WHAT IS CONSENT? What is consent culture?
While consent is not a concept that only resides in the realm of sexual bodies, this definition will specifically address consent and sexuality.
Consent is when permission is clearly given by an individual to engage in sexual activities with others. If verbal consent is not able to be given because of the nature of the sex play, then other codes of giving consent must be agreed upon beforehand (ie, vigorous nodding, safe words, other signals). An important factor of consent, is that in order for it to be valid, it must also be able to be revoked at any time. A person may really be enjoying themselves, but if their partner(s) ask them to stop because they are no longer comfortable for whatever reason, then they must stop. Also, if a person gives consent to an activity, but then passes out, or for any reason is not able to convey or revoke consent, then the act is no longer consensual.
Consent Culture aims to transcend the structures of shame that devalue autonomy over our own bodies, and to promote sexual and bodily liberation. It is the pleasure, intimacy, sexuality, and humanity-exalting antithesis to Rape Culture. While anyone of any gender can be a survivor of sexual assault, rape culture in the context of patriarchy is the normalization of the objectification, devaluation, harassment, abuse, and sexual assault of women and femmes. It is also the complicity of silence amongst men and masculine folks when these harms are occurring, and/or the kneejerk reaction to defend men accused of sexual assault, and doubt the testimony of survivors. Again, while people of all genders can experience the trauma and toxicity of rape culture, it’s main target is overwhelmingly women and LGBTQ people. Since rape culture is a function of patriarchy, consent culture can be seen as an intersectional feminist liberation movement.
While we say “no means no” in opposition to rape culture, consent culture affirms that “yes means yes.” The concept of Enthusiastic Consent takes this even further, advocating for a clear and passionate “yes please!!” as opposed to a lukewarm “sure, I guess so.” Enthusiastic consent empowers individuals to only do what they really want to do, and for their partners to help them navigate this territory.
what is bystander intervention?
Bystander Intervention is an essential part of Consent Culture. It creates a radically loving dynamic where we are all accountable for each other. This includes people of all genders, while emphasizing working with men, boys, and masculine folks as we are the population who perpetrates sexual assault the most.
Traditional rape prevention programs used in schools tend to not work. The approach feels like telling boys they are innate rapists waiting to happen. The boys sense this, and tune out. Bystander Intervention approaches from another place altogether. It assumes that if they saw something not cool going down, they would want to intervene. The training would give them tools, and empower them to do so in a creative, and non-violent manner. In my experience, boys and youth of all genders jump into this work wholeheartedly. The arts make it very engaging and fun too. Statistically, the overwhelming majority of people of any age who go through Bystander Intervention trainings not only go on to intervene when harmful dynamics are emerging, they also go on to not be perpetrators of harm themselves.
Bystander Intervention can also be mapped onto any oppressive dynamic, and interrupting it. That includes cyber/bullying, street harassment, trans/homophobic name calling and assaults, and much more.
What is Healthy masculinity?
In today's world, there is a dominant story of what a "real man" should be. They should be cisgendered, straight and "have" a lot of women. They should not be "soft." They do not cry. They earn respect by making a lot of money and being in control. They should be able-bodied, and be able to perform acts of strength and sports abilities. This strength and control can be used to intimidate others if they feel disrespected in any way. Among many others, the image of the CEO, the swaggerific rapper and the action movie star come to mind. We are saturated with images of what this "real man" is. We are told that there is only one way to be masculine.
Meanwhile, there is a counter story of masculinity, one that does not get the fanfare and air time that the "real man" does. When one is asked to think of a strong man or masculine person in their life, very often people cite a very supportive and loving person. Perhaps a pastor, teacher, mentor, father or father-figure. They may cite someone who used their strength to help others. Someone who was not ashamed of their own humanity, or their feelings. Someone responsible and accountable. Someone dependable. Someone trying to grow from old ways. Someone who made a positive impact whether they were rich, poor, gay, straight, able-bodied or not. Healthy Masculinity explores the counter-stories that don't get the props they deserve, and allows us to liberate ourselves from tiny boxes of gendered expectations so we can live our fullest, healthiest, most authentic lives.
For more on this, please see my article: Healthy Masculinity & Toxic Masculinity in Wakanda: An Intersectional Afrofuturist Perspective.