Let’s talk about a more round meaning to a new buzz word: Consent
Disclaimer: Absolutely all of this post is about adults. I am not even going to venture into the world of children with this post; not parent/child, child/ child, adult/child. This post is about adult/adult behaviors, and more specifically about violence against women.
I hear consent being used a lot these days, and for good reason.
Consent is agreement or permission to do something, for something to happen or be done or to allow something to happen.
But it’s becoming a very squared off version of a much rounder word. I’m finding that consent is being squared off into a meaning that solely relates to sex. And it’s being narrowed down more and more into that, as we try to define what is and is not considered consensual sex.
Giving / receiving consent for sex is SUPER MEGA AMAZINGLY IMPORTANT CRUCIAL and UNDENIABLE. I am not saying it isn’t.
What I am saying is that isn’t *all* consent means.
Consent over what happens to my body should not stop at my lady parts. My WHOLE body needs consent to be touched in any way, at all times.
It’s my body.
Sexual Assault is a part of Physical Assault. You can’t touch me sexually without touching me physically.
Any means in which someone continues to touch you sexually, without your consent is sexual assault. All sexual assault is horrible. Rape is the end all worst thing that can happen in a sexual assault.
Non-consensual sex is rape. End of story. It is. And it is a crime.
But, what about the rest of my body? What about the rest of Physical Assault? If I’m not getting raped, does that mean they don’t need consent to touch me?
ARE YOU KIDDING ME?
What’s the end all for physical violence against women that doesn’t involve sex? Death
Again, let me state that I am NOT trivializing rape, –rape is a form of death. I know. I’ve been raped. I know the shroud and have spoken with the reaper. But I am trying to complete the whole here.
Consent does not stop at sex. Consent means any way you touch me needs to have my approval.
If I reach out my hand to shake yours, that’s consent. Feel free to grab hold and shake my hand. If I reach out to hug you, and you want to hug me back, that’s consent. Hug away. If you come up behind me and put your hand on my shoulder, I turn, see who you are, smile and say something nice, then shaking my hand or hugging or other forms of nonsexual touch will probably be ok.
If I see who you are and pull away, then you no longer have consent to touch any part of me. Not even my fingernail. You don’t get to reach out and try to pull me in. You don’t get to grab my arm. I don’t care how much you want to talk to me.
If I want to leave the room, there is NO way that you can stop me that is not abuse.
It’s a very general but important concept.
No one can make another person do something. You can’t control anyone.
No matter how high ranking you are, the other person still has their own ability to decide.
The only way to MAKE someone do what you want is through coercion, manipulation, deception, and physical means. Each of these is a form of abuse. No one can make you do anything without being an abuser. ( *this does not include those incarcerated by the law)
You can’t make people do anything.
Each of us has the right to choose what we do.
Sexual or not, you don’t get to touch me without my consent.
So here are a FEW things that I don’t consent to have happen to my body that don’t involve sex:
Having your face in my personal face space. Don’t crowd me. It’s a threat, it’s meant to be a threat, and it’s not ok.
My hands squeezed to a point that my fingers and knuckles press together painfully.
My shoulders or neck squeezed or grabbed with intent to hurt or stop me.
My chin pinched to turn my head or hold my head still.
My hand/ wrist/ arm yanked in order to turn me or stop me from going somewhere I choose to go.
You probably shouldn’t flick me either. I will probably not see that as an acceptable way to touch me.
And some real for sure definite no ways:
Getting pushed up or down stairs, through a hall, over a chair or table, or down into anything.
Being shoved up against a wall or door.
Being picked up and thrown down.
Having my arms wrenched behind me and pulled up.
Being hit, open-handed or closed-fist. Neither one is acceptable.
Having my throat closed by squeezing.
What are the little physical clues? The things that abusers start with? They ways they test the waters? No one starts out the way the man who assaulted me did. The level of violence he went to the first time he chose to assault me went far past testing the waters.
My ex husband started with small things; things I didn’t notice because I was already used to them. But even at his worst, he never reached the level this guy did the first and only time. Yes, this guy knew I’d been abused in my marriage. Because of that knowledge, he felt safe to jump in right where he left off with his last victim.
The thing is abusers start small and subtle. How much power can they take? It’s a rush. It’s about control and power. And abusers use control and power like a drug. They have to have more to keep the rush. They need to see loss of power in the other in order to feel the rush. It’s not a Snap! There’s no moment when all of a sudden a normal guy goes all abuser on someone.
I want to open this discussion up to you. Let’s help each other. What are the physical clues that a man is an abuser? What are the subtle ways they test the waters to see what they can get away with? What physical touch do you not consent to?
I’m going to write about emotional abuse soon, because that is a predecessor to physical abuse. It may not always lead up to, but physical abuse is never without emotional abuse. But this post is about the physical.