I am a daughter, sister, friend, lover, student, teacher, and more. I enjoy playing many roles and have collected several names. In addition to Asha Lerae, you may also call me Ash.
On my father’s side, I am descended from African people enslaved in the south of the so-called United States. On my mother’s side, I am descended from European settlers of so-called Canada. Currently, I reside on occupied Duwamish land, also known as Seattle.
Teacher of Human Skills; Student of Life, Death, and the Infinite
As a sex and consent educator and coach, I consider myself a teacher of human skills. Human skills are capabilities all human beings need to access in order to thrive together. They are as diverse as humans are. We all need teachers to develop our specific skillsets. We all have something to teach one another. And we are all continually being taught various lessons by Life, Death, and the Infinite, whether we are consciously aware of what we absorb or not.
In this dual role of student and teacher, in addition to continuous learning and development in traditional and non-traditional spaces, I maintain a spiritual practice to gratefully receive and digest the lessons the spirits of Life, Death, and the Infinite are imparting. You could call this practice “Yoga”. You could call it “mindfulness”. You could call it a somatic practice, or animist practice. It includes elements of all these. I sometimes call it ritual, sometimes study, or “the work,” or play, but most often, if I call it anything at all, I call it “doing my thing”. The words are not so important. The daily practice is what’s important. I am becoming a more skilled teacher because I maintain this spiritual practice, but I do it primarily because it is erotic.
I prefer to define the erotic as the satisfying feeling of being fully alive, a feeling that cannot be confined only to the sexual. This definition comes from the essay “The Uses of the Erotic: The Erotic as Power”, published by Audre Lorde in 1978. I highly recommend reading this essay (and I’m always happy to discuss it!).
I teach and learn and dialogue because it is erotic for me to do so.
I maintain a connection to spirit because it is erotic for me to do so.
Rather than being a human skill, I believe eroticism is an essential way of being, one that humanity has much to learn from nature/spirit about. I often mourn the countless erotic initiation rites and rituals that humans evolved symbiotically with nature/spirit over the span of our existence that were lost over time due to colonization, enslavement, and capitalism. Many people are suffering and longing for eroticism without even the words to explain their lack.
Sometimes people violate consent in their search for eroticism.
Sometimes people accept violations of consent in pursuit of eroticism.
I have learned and aim to teach about consent praxis as a kind of ritual we can use to find eroticism without undue suffering.
Paolo Freire defines praxis as “action + reflection ” in his book The Pedagogy of the Oppressed, first published in 1968 (another text I am always happy to discuss!).
Inspired by his work, I define praxis as “theory + practice”.
Theory is the “who, what, where, when, and why.” Practice is the “how.”
Praxis is the combination, resulting in a unique way of being, your own particular style of acting, reflecting, learning, and changing.
There is a theory of consent, one that is far more complex than “yes means yes” and “no means no”. Consent theory considers concepts, ideology, language, thought, behavior, emotion, sensation, and how they all come together to create the feeling of consent between parties.
Consent is also a practice. You learn how to put consent in action through communication, negotiation, self-reflection and intuition of desires and limits, using and interpreting body language, and more.
You take the theory and practice it, by and within yourself, with others, and within systems. What you learn from practice informs theory. Consent theory and practice work together to make consent praxis.
Consent praxis is trauma-informed, meaning it considers human neurology, physiology, and psychology, or how our nervous systems are wired and how they influence bodily functions, thoughts, feelings, sensations, and behavior in times of stress and trauma. In this way, consent praxis is a somatic praxis – somatic meaning “of the body”. How we practice consent is through the body. How we learn and theorize about consent is through the body. The mind is not cut off from the body or the rest of the nervous system. A dualistic view of mind/body is an impediment to consent praxis, which is inherently non-dual.