Sunday, December 7, 2014

Can't Touch This: Touching and Consent

This week I saw something that disgusted me. I came across it in my facebook feed, a link to a video of a fourteen year old girl being dragged unwillingly across a concrete floor by her P.E teacher who was trying to physically force her to get into a pool. She had apparently been in the pool at one point, but had gotten out to avoid getting her hair wet because she had gotten it done earlier that day for an event that night. So this teacher, who is an adult, decided the best course of action was to attempt to physically drag her into the pool. Unfortunately for him, this act of complete stupidity was caught on video by another student.

The news story of the incident and the video of it.

Even more disgusting was some of the people in the comments on the link I read, which I unfortunately can't get the link to because the server is down for the website, who were advocating for the teacher's behavior, calling it "discipline" and bemoaning the fact that we aren't allowed to properly discipline children these days. One of these insisted that the student was not manhandled, as other posters were mentioning in their outrage, and made the distressing statement of "no means no" only applies to sex.

Now, this should be bothersome to anyone, but I'd say this is especially abhorrent to those who live within the BDSM spectrum where consent is the basic foundation of all of our interactions. By this man's logic, we have no authority over our own bodies outside of touch within a sexual context. And when so much of this lifestyle/way of live/culture/community/pick-your-word is not sexual, that is a dangerous position to take. If it is acceptable for a grown man to drag a screaming girl across the floor because it's not sexual, this would suggest that any touch that is not sexual, including violence, is not subject to consent.

Perhaps I am hyperbolizing too much, but I'm simply horrified that anyone, let alone multiple people would find it okay to do that to another human being regardless of age. I don't care how you feel about why she didn't want to get into the pool. Laying hands on her and trying to throw her into the pool should have never been an option for discipline, and implying, as the same idiot who said consent only applies to sex, that those who were trying to help the girl should be disciplined as well.

To bring this back to a relevant place for the shit I'm actually supposed to be talking about, you know, M/s and BDSM and your respective flavor of alphabet soup, consent is one of those topics you get beaten over the head with repeatedly if you are part of any meatspace community or online forum. I mean, all of the spiffy alphabet mottos, SSC, RACK, and PRICK all have that C for consenual in them. It's our base point. If it's not consensual, it's not okay. If it's consensual, even if it grosses me the fuck out, it's okay, I'm just not gonna watch.

Of course, this has always been a bit of a murky subject for me. There is a big push for enthusiastic consent, where if it's not a yes (enthusiastic or otherwise), it's a no. This has never been the case for me. I am painfully passive and noncommittal, so, for me, if it's not a no, it's a yes. Or rather, I suppose, if it's not a no, it's not a no. It's part of the reason why I don't consider some of what my ex did to be abuse because I never said no.

However, I get really angry when people I don't know or don't like touch me without my consent. I guess that's part of the reason why I'm so completely appalled by that video. Had I been in her shoes, I would have probably ended up getting arrested because I tend to get violent when someone persists in touching me against my will. It especially pisses me off when they continue after I say stop, because I rarely do that.

Mistress Uli

I honestly don't understand people who just touch people they aren't close to or even really acquainted with. This older lady at work consistently makes me want to strangle her because when she wants my attention, instead of just saying my name, she'll poke me or tap me on the shoulder. One time she even grabbed my wrist as I was walking across the room. That is not fucking okay. I won't sit in the terminal next to her now because she does this and it makes me uncomfortable. It's not in a sexual context, but it bothers the hell out of me.

I have extremely long hair. When I wear it down, I get comments on it from strangers. Now, this doesn't bother me much, although compliments do make me a little self-conscious. But, I was in a used bookstore one day. You know the kind, the tiny hole in the wall in the historic part of town with more books than shelf space that's so crammed full the whole shop is a giant ball of claustrophobia and paper must. This complete stranger complimented my hair, asked how I got it so wavy. Okay, cool. But as I was leaving the store, she stuck her hand under my pony tail and kind of petted my hair. I was instantly creeped out.

I mean, I seriously feel bad for pregnant ladies who have strangers constantly rub their bellies. That shit is straight up creepy. Stop it.

Um, well, the text is appropriate, but I have no idea why it's
on a picture of a red duck...

I also can't tell you how much I hate the social convention of hand shaking, where I'm basically obligated to touch somebody against my will lest I be considered rude.

Trust me, consent is not just about sex.

But, I'm also a fan of consensual non-consent, both sexual encounters and relationships of that nature, where there is what I call an "original consent" to all future acts regardless of the consenting party's feelings at the time of the act. It has been one of my biggest fetishes not involving a specific activity. Probably one of the first fetishes I ever had. Even so, it's not something I want to engage in with anyone but my owner. The key part of consensual non-consent is the consensual part. What I don't have a fetish for is someone with whom I'm not in that kind of a relationship trying to impose themselves or their touch on me without my consent just because they know I have a force fetish. I have not had this problem personally, but one hears stories.

I...I couldn't resist this one. 

I suppose that would be another reason why I keep my distance from people and don't generally touch them, aside from the general physical paranoia that accompanies my social disorder. The fact that I am fairly open about my CNC inclinations as well as my tendency toward implicit rather than explicit consent coupled with my extreme difficulty with confrontation makes interaction a bit complicated for me. So, I just tend to keep a good distance from others and avoid so much as brushing people much of the time.

You know,  I had hoped this would have been a little more organized and a damn sight more articulate, but the point is, consent doesn't just apply to sexual touch. It doesn't only apply to touch either, but if I tried to go into all of it, this post would never end. I was just kind of horrified at the idea that an incident like the one mentioned at the beginning of this post would even occur in a school or at all, and I was bothered that anyone would think it okay or have any argument against No means no. If you actually made it through all my rambling, let me know what you think about the incident and the issue.