On a good day, at our most stable mentally, emotionally, and physically, consent is a complex topic. And when we add in the realities of the stress of our day to day lives, the impact of trauma, and the truth of living in a misogynist patriarchal culture… well the topic of consent can become mind boggling to say the least.
Often we think of consent in very dualistic terms: either it is yes or no, it is given or not given. Yet life isn’t so simplistic as that neither is our consent. Our consent is a living entity that can shift and morph and change given any variety of circumstances. Add to this parts of us can give consent while other parts of us may not. This is often the case, for example, when we choose to have surgery, a surgery that may even be necessary for our survival. Our mind consents to this surgery and perhaps even our spirit, and yet all our body knows is that it is frozen (thanks to anesthesia) being cut open and likely having metal implements stuck inside it and pieces of it, our body, being torn away and taken out. And so, even after having given consent with our mind and spirit, our body may have a trauma reaction post surgery, as a response to what it just went through and doesn’t understand was okay.
For these reasons, the very complexity of consent, it can be challenging to fully understand it. When we add to this that we are raised in a culture that tells women our consent isn’t relevant, it is no wonder that we are often left wondering if we didn’t indeed ask for it or feeling like it doesn’t matter if we say no so why bother?
The truth is that our bodies, our beings, our minds, our spirits are OURS, and ours alone. These bodies we each walk around it, these bodies we live and love and grieve and rejoice in, are our birthright. And as such it is our right to say yes or no or maybe or to change our minds a million times in the process.
Yet often we are so disconnected from what we want, from our boundaries, from our bodies that we don’t fully understand what consent even means on any given day.
This disconnection isn’t by accident or any sort of indication of our own character. This disconnection is by design. It is intentional. It is the way our culture controls us, keeps us obedient, compliant and complicit. It is how the patriarchy gets away with treating us as less than human, as objects.
And so. I deeply believe that part of our own journey to understanding our consent is coming home to our body. To moving from a place of disassociation to a place of embodiment. To learn to sit in the discomfort and pleasure of being present in our body, in each moment.
To learn how to be in our body so that then we can actually choose if we want to be in it or not. So we can have the power of decision. So we can be fully informed and take back our consent instead of having it taken from us.
I talk about consent even more in this 18-minute video below. I hope you enjoy it.
This essay and video series is in part to share with you the topics we’ll be unearthing, examining, dislodging and embracing in the six month circle Body of Consent. We begin on March 1 (the video says February, we changed the start date to March). If you are interested, you can learn more and register right over here. xoxo
Or if you enjoyed this and would like to read more of my essays, you can subscribe for my weekly love letter right over here.