"Reclaiming Touch" | A Response
Body sovereignty covers reproductive rights, required consent, ableism and so many more subtle areas of concern for empowerment. As a way to test the concept, Troost set out on a mission to only touch people when given permission and to expect the same, and this became very problematic for people when it came to a simple social gesture, the hug.
Expressed Verbal Consent (EVC)
Troost asks the question,
What do we have to be asked permission for?
When we ask permission for touch, one of the hardest things is being willing to accept No for an answer. Graciously accepting No means respecting the other person's boundaries. Graciously accepting No is respectful. Graciously accepting No means you do not take it personally.
I know I still offend people from time to time by putting out a hand when they expect a hug. I am especially sensitive to men "bear hugging" me without warning or permission and will push men off of me even if it causes social pain or awkwardness to those around me.
Troost believes asking for consent subverts rape culture because
[...] straight culture asks initiators (men) to know when their partners (women) will be willing, and to never ask but merely wait until they "know."
Silly rabbit, consent is for strangers
It's often the people we're around most who feel they don't have to ask to touch. There is an assumption that once you've achieved a touch or intimacy level, it stays there. If we've hugged once, we'll hug again without asking, without investigating. But how far can you take that line of reasoning?
[...] making touch a gauge of intimacy, rather than a pleasure in and of itself, results in objectification
If someone denies a hug, are they thereby denying the relationship? Why else would people get so bent out of shape about it? Touching is one way of proving a relationship and a level of trust and intimacy. Perhaps that's just not the right way to perceive it. People who love each other very much and value a relationship deeply can still have differing physical comfort levels from day to day.
Practicing EVC is a method to achieve body sovereignty and to combat assumptive touch.
Yes Means Yes! Visions of Female Sexual Power & a World Without Rape edited by Jaclyn Friedman & Jessica Valenti, Foreword by Margaret Cho, Essay 14, "Reclaiming Touch: Rape Culture, Explicit Verbal Consent, and Body Sovereignty", by Hazel/Cedar Troost, Pages 171-176