We can (and have and will) talk about sex and consent and everything on this blog, but today, I’m talking about consent in a way that has nothing to do with sex. Will you talk about this with me? 🙂
Not all that long ago, I was watching a television show in which a woman was giving birth. And she’s yelling at people not to touch her. And someone goes in all “sweetly” grabbing her hand. ‘I’ve got you. I’ve got you.’ ‘Let me GO!’ The pregnant woman is making it so clear she does NOT want someone holding her hands, but even with two rounds of that, the person very “sweetly” insists, ‘I will not let you go.’
And it is played as a very “sweet” moment. There’s no talk about it afterward. There’s no embarrassment or shame on the part of the person who didn’t listen. No. They’re a saint, it seems.
And as I was watching the show, I was screaming in my head, “STOP TOUCHING HER! DON’T TOUCH HER! SHE’S MAKING IT SO CLEAR SHE DOESN’T WANT TO BE TOUCHED. (AAAAAAAGGGGGGHHHH)”
But I also realized that I have seen so many scenes along these lines growing up, and I never even batted an eyelash. As far as I could tell, that behavior was sweet. That’s what I grew up thinking.
You know? I think a lot of us are taught to think that someone in distress like that is being “crazy” or “too emotional” or whatever. Whereas really, a woman giving birth is going through something incredibly tough and needs actual support – in getting what she actually asks for.
Yes, I’m sure there are some – very, very, very few – scenarios where you must go against someone’s immediate wishes in order to help them. If someone is in a horrific car accident and they’re brought into the hospital and they don’t know what’s going on, and they try to swat a hand away from someone in the midst of saving their life, then yeah, that doctor should probably keep touching them (while explaining what’s going on), because, you know… Life hanging in the balance and all.
But if a pregnant person doesn’t want to be touched, a scared person, a crying person… It doesn’t matter how “sweet” we’re trying to be or how much we think that person might “need” to be touched. Don’t touch them!
I feel like society has been talking a lot-ish about rom-coms and how we are starting to indeed see the bad messages those are sending. But what about these messages of consent in completely non-sexual situations like these?
I feel like a generally preeeeeetty empathetic or even slightly “woke”-ish person if you will, and if I never saw even a spec of a problem in scenes like these, how can I expect other people to? How can I expect the world to change?
Why didn’t I noticed this before? Did this affect how I treated people, or if I made them uncomfortable? I hope to goodness not. But if my brain has been in the wrong place for twenty-something years, how can I know? (I do know I’ve never held the hand of a pregnant person. So, at least I have that, I suppose.)
I am just bewildered in how I used to see the world vs. how I see it now. And I dunno what else to say to end this. So, bye ’til tomorrow!