This blog discusses what consent looks like. Located within the asterisks, I talk about my personal experiences with sexual assault.
I spent Valentine’s Day with the dentist. There is no romanticizing the metal instrument, which pulled out a tooth on the numb left side of my face. I spent my Friday evening watching Star Trek (TOS) and being bummed out over missing the first part of Take Root. I told myself that if I didn’t talk very much or laugh or smile, I could take my chipmunk face to Take Root Saturday morning. I am incredibly stubborn and unashamed to bust out pain meds in public, so I attended Take Root that Saturday.
“You have the right to a safe, consensual sex life”
I mouthed these words on the whiteboard over and over to myself, because it seems so simple, right? Why wouldn’t we want everyone to enjoy safe sex on a consensual basis with whomever they want?
The Consent Workshop hosted by Jen and Jordan challenged my perception of how I analyze the term “consent” and how I can apply this to my life even though I am in a long-term relationship. I can usually point out when someone is being a privileged douche, but sometimes I forget to ask, “What behavior or language used by this person indicates douchiness?”
We were split into four groups and given four scenarios to read and analyze. We were asked to explain what made the scenarios questionable or consensual.
Was there communication prior to intimacy?
Were there assumptions made about what both people were comfortable doing?
Was there coercion in language to get someone to do something they were not comfortable with?
Saying nothing doesn’t mean consent. Kissing someone does not indicate consent for other forms of intimacy. Being passed out does not mean consent. Underlying assumptions of what is “deserved” is not a consensual mechanism. No one has an obligation to anyone else’s bodily autonomy.
At the age of fifteen, I was forced into a room with three white males who told me that they were playing a game with me. This was the chosen vocabulary. Me equating to a game, not a person, never a person, because that would mean they might have to consider empathy. They physically picked me up and carried me into this room to try and get me to take off my clothes for them. I froze. I did nothing. I was unable to mutter a word. I was unable to think about anything other than creating a bubble for myself. I was in a bubble and I was not in the room. They laughed as the leader of the three tugged at my shirt and lifted it from me. I went back to being seven years old. I was told to be quiet, never say a word. I would get in trouble. I would only cause shame. I was flooded with these memories again.
I have held onto this pain for a very long time.
After the workshop, I wondered what differences in behavior and language these boys would have internalized if they were made to confront their privileged ignorance. I run into one of them often and by the confusion on his face when he sees my anger at him, I know he doesn’t remember. It’s a blip in his memory. There are aspects of Oklahoman culture which cater to this (White Supremacist Capitalist Patriarchy, I’m looking at you) privilege of skipping in harmony with the flow of things and wondering why everyone else is feeling unhappy about the way these oppressive states are.
I bring this to your attention as a form of catharsis and to magnify the importance of analyzing what forms of privilege we have. Part of analyzing how we view consent is realizing that no one owes you shit. No one owes anyone sex. No one owes anyone a kiss, a smile, no, no, no.
We all deserve the right to safe and consensual sex life; this I know for sure and the workshop created a space to be introspective and challenge myself to reconsider what my own privileges have allowed me to ignore.
Rios tweets (@Riosdelaluz) and it is mostly about Spock, Sherlock, The Doctor and queefing.
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