A friend and I were out with our kids when another family’s two-year-old came up. She began hugging my friend’s 18-month-old, following her around and smiling at her. My friend’s little girl looked like she wasn’t so sure she liked this, and at that moment the other little girl’s mom came up and got down on her little girl’s level to talk to her.
“Honey, can you listen to me for a moment? I’m glad you’ve found a new friend, but you need to make sure to look at her face to see if she likes it when you hug her. And if she doesn’t like it, you need to give her space. Okay?”
Two years old, and already her mother was teaching her about consent.
My daughter Sally likes to color on herself with markers. I tell her it’s her body, so it’s her choice. Sometimes she writes her name, sometimes she draws flowers or patterns. The other day I heard her talking to her brother, a marker in her hand.
“Bobby, do you mind if I color on your leg?”
Bobby smiled and moved himself closer to his sister. She began drawing a pattern on his leg with a marker while he watched, fascinated. Later, she began coloring on the sole of his foot. After each stoke, he pulled his foot back, laughing. I looked over to see what was causing the commotion, and Sally turned to me.
“He doesn’t mind if I do this,” she explained, “he is only moving his foot because it tickles. He thinks its funny.” And she was right. Already Bobby had extended his foot to her again, smiling as he did so.
What I find really fascinating about these two anecdotes is that they both deal with the consent of children not yet old enough to communicate verbally. In both stories, the older child must read the consent of the younger child through nonverbal cues. And even then, consent is not this ambiguous thing that is difficult to understand.
Teaching consent is ongoing, but it starts when children are very young. It involves both teaching children to pay attention to and respect others’ consent (or lack thereof) and teaching children that they should expect their own bodies and their own space to be respected—even by their parents and other relatives.
And if children of two or four can be expected to read the nonverbal cues and expressions of children not yet old enough to talk in order to assess whether there is consent, what excuse do full grown adults have?
if you’re voting for that white oatmeal lizard dork instead of a black transgendered actor who overcame just about every oppressive hurdle possible for a professional for time’s person of the year then I have no words for you. please disassociate yourself from every aspect of my life
“Because we don’t speak about sex, there is no socially acceptable language surrounding it. So the language of porn has jumped in to fill that space, and that’s an issue, because in a male-dominated industry the language of porn is all too often male-generated. The person who coined the term “finger blasting” didn’t have a vagina. The person who coined the term, “getting your ass railed” never got their ass railed. Pounding, hammering, banging… And language matters, because when the only language you have available is abusive and one-directional, in terms of having things done to you, it creates a very weird view of how sex works.”—Porn Is Dead, Long Live Sex | VICE United States (via femmewitch)
This is how to run a stick of Chapstick
down the black boxes on your scantron
so the grading machine skips the wrong
answers. This is how to honor roll. Hell,
this is how to National Honor Society.
This is being voted “Most Likely to Marry
for Money” or “Talks the Most, Says the
Least” for senior superlatives. This is
stepping around the kids having panic
attacks in the hallway. This is being the
kid having a panic attack in the hallway.
This is making the A with purple moons
stamped under both eyes. We had to try.
This is telling the ACT supervisor you have
ADHD to get extra time. Today, the average
high school student has the same anxiety
levels as the average 1950’s psychiatric
patient. We know the Pythagorean theorem
by heart, but short-circuit when asked
“How are you?” We don’t know. We don’t
know. That wasn’t on the study guide.
We usually know the answer, but rarely