Contact and Consent

To be able to give consent, in any context, we need to be making a choice freely, from a position of being properly informed about what we might or might not be consenting to. It needs to be as possible to say yes as it is to say no. I have a lot of issues around political consent, and the differences between what you’re told you’re voting for and what happens when people get into power. I think manifestoes should be legally binding.

For the last four years or so, learning to say ‘no’ when I want to has been a big part of my journey. I still have learning to do around how I manage other people’s needs, and learning to say ‘no’ when I’m exhausted and so forth – but  generally I’ve been getting better at all this. I avoid situations where I do not have the right to refuse, and I keep away from people who have dubious ideas about what consent even means. I am more well, and more at peace in myself as a direct consequence.

As I’ve commented before, I’m not a massively tactile person. Arty, folky, Pagan and Green communities can all be rather huggy places, and some days I manage that better than others. If it’s meant, and felt, then a hug is something I’m usually fine with. What I struggle with is hugging people I don’t really know, and faking what for me, would properly be a small emotional intimacy.

It occurs to me that I’m usually very passive around social gestures of affection. Even with the people I would be glad to hug, I wait to see what they do, more usually, and I don’t offer. The notable exceptions are the people with whom I have deep and well-established relationships anyway.

I could become someone who can comfortably offer and seek affection. It’s something I intend to explore a bit, picking people I trust and feel safe with, people who speak to my heart and with whom I would like to be more open. I will probably be painfully awkward and like a creature with far too many elbows, but I would like to be able to do this gracefully, and my only option is to learn.

The freedom to say ‘no’ is only a part of what consent means. Now I need to start working on the freedom to also say yes.

About Nimue Brown

Druid, author, dreamer, folk enthusiast, parent, wife to the most amazing artist -Tom Brown. Drinker of coffee, maker of puddings. Exploring life as a Pagan, seeking good and meaningful ways to be, struggling with mental health issues and worried about many things. View all posts by Nimue Brown

4 responses to “Contact and Consent

  • angharadlois

    What a wonderful consideration of a social situation which is extremely widespread and very rarely thought about.

    I don’t like hugs – I often struggle to say so, without feeling like an ogre! But of course what I really mean is: I don’t like casual hugs with relative strangers. With my close friends, and even sometimes with new acquaintances, a hug can be a heartfelt gesture of warmth and closeness. But without that context of close connection (and spontaneity), a hug can feel awkward and even stifling. I particularly struggle with the social media variety, when people offer “hugs” instead of discussion – they mean so well, and I am grateful that they even care enough to comment, but it often dampens any potential for discussion.

    Bring back the handshake!

  • locksley2010

    Hugs and handshakes? I do both. I’m a naturally huggy person (actors usually are) but for those who aren’t I either give a handshake or I pull the Vulcan hand posture and simply say “Peace and long life…” seriously, I do!

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