#MeToo cw: assault
I have felt the build up of unwanted touch stick to me and follow me for weeks, an infringement on my personhood. The texture of my body not being My Body, and pulling all resources I could find within myself to rebuild and defend my boundaries.
And in this acknowledgement, I also want to acknowledge that I have been on the other side of the coin. I have been the person to take advantage, to cross boundaries, to touch in ways that were not spoken about or agreed upon beforehand. I have felt the looming weight of understanding that I was the person to make someone else feel unsafe, and knowing that as much as I apologized and held myself accountable, I can’t take back that experience for the other person. Messages given to me by a culture I hadn’t had a chance to critically analyze, nor knew how to do so. Messages that because I was a small, female human, that I could touch in whatever ways I wanted to touch; that my touch could never be predatory.
I am now a person who has been professionally trained to touch people for a living. I can see how much information and education is missing from our culture, from our systems. How my assaulters were acting in accordance with the only examples of masculinity and touch interactions given to them. How even if they didn’t feel good about how they were acting, the actions for alternative engagement had not been provided to them. I see my acquiescence, my enduring, my tolerating, and not understanding how my voice in certain situations could be the pillar for personal autonomy as it is now. So often I didn’t even know my assault was happening until years later in reflection… and if I didn’t know it was happening, the chances are high my assaulter didn’t either.
This is not all interactions, this is not everyones experience. This is just a particular expression of this particular learning and noticing. I want to be accountable to myself, I want to showcase that these actions of my past allow me to be the person who chooses to facilitate consent workshops, who chooses to not let those experiences fade into the background as Mistakes I Made, but Grand Learnings that Ensure there will be Love in My Actions moving forward.
The most effective teaching of consent structures I have found is the Wheel of Consent by the eminent Betty Martin. Betty offers numerous free resources on her website, bettymartin.org — To those who are asking how they can do better, how they can be accountable, I would highly recommend checking out this diagram.