Tuesday, June 21, 2011

A small request.

An open letter to everyone I've engaged in BDSM with:

Please do not, in social situations or even vanilla sex, just come out and whomp me.

Don't hit me because I said something "bratty" and it would be funny. Don't hit me because we're joking about what a totally kinky kinkster I am. Don't hit me to show that you're the UberDom and you don't take sass. Don't hit me because my butt is just sticking out there, like right out there, and it's just too tempting.

And for the love of God don't hit me because you think I'd like it.

There are people who are okay with this sort of thing, who really are in bottom mode all the time, and I've got no problem with that. And there are other people who aren't physically enjoying it, but are in D/s relationships where they've agreed to take it. But neither of these covers everyone in BDSM. There are a lot more people--and I'm one of them--whose reaction being casually whomped is "well, it didn't hurt that bad, and I don't want to bring everyone down by making a big deal out of it, and I don't want people to be afraid to play with me because I'm too touchy, and I guess it was kinda funny... but ugh."

Hitting's kind of a big deal, you know? We're aware of that in BDSM-land, so we talk real big about consent and negotiation--we know that consent is the difference between What It Is That We Do and kidnapping, assault, and rape. The problem is, then we get comfy with it. Once you've crossed the social boundaries and gotten used to the feeling of striking another person who does not hit back, you can get to feeling a little too casual about it.

Please don't. I like to be hit--when I'm in bottom mode, when I'm ready for it. Enjoying being hit is a psychological and physical challenge. It's not something you can just toss at me. When I get hit in the context of casual conversation or horsing around or making out, I feel exactly the same as a normal person who just got hit. Scared, pissed off, and just plain hurt.

I'm not talking here about strangers in the community; that really would be straight up assault. I'm talking about people that I like, people that I've played with or slept with, people that I did give my consent to some BDSM activities with. I've gotten in habits like sitting with my back to the wall so I can't be grabbed from behind, or not wanting to walk up stairs ahead of certain people. It's a little bit of a playful "ha ha, gotta keep 'em from gettin' to me, I'm so wily!"... and a little bit of a "I'm quite seriously trying to protect myself from unwanted pain." There are moments when I've really felt like I was in a situation where I couldn't avoid being hurt or predict when it was going to happen. Not in the fun way.

It's easy to understand why you can't do a full scene with someone without negotiating--obviously you can't tie someone to a chair or beat them bloody without a little "you're sure you're cool with this?" first. But just because a playful slap isn't Big Important Deal BDSM doesn't mean that it's not BDSM. Even a playful slap requires consent.

If you want to hit someone in a terrifying, edge-of-real-danger, intensely sensual and perverse way, negotiate it and get their consent. If you want to casually dope-slap someone for being a totally goofy little dingus.... negotiate it and get their consent.


  1. <3 thank you for this post.

  2. i guess it's because i grew up in a very conservative environment, but when i started dating i'd somehow gotten into the habit of casually hitting men, now men i was dating, because i'd internalized this message that women were weak, physically, and a slap from a woman is just something you can laugh off because it doesn't mean anything, and also guys can't be abused or won't be hurt by you physically abusing them. i probably wouldn't have articulated it precisely that way if asked, but i did have a habit, if guys were like uh, hey, what the fuck, could you please not do that, of being like WHAT? that didn't even hurt, you baby, i'm just a girl, laugh it off for chrissakes.

    um. *profound embarrassment*

    luckily i have grown up quite a bit and learned and i don't do that anymore.

  3. see, stuff like that is what has basically scared me off the public bdsm scene, which makes me sad. i'm not trying to be a whiner, and i've got plenty of kink in my professional and personal life, but i haven't been to a play party in years, haven't been to a workshop or munch in months, because every time i do, i find i'm on my toes the whole time about my consent being respected, which a) is no fun and b) when something does happen, i end up feeling all angry and stupid and annoyed at myself for trusting people to, you know, respect me as a person even though i have a vagina and sometimes like to bottom. it's really frustrating, because i really miss that sense of community, that freedom to talk about kink without being the one "who keeps talking about sex" in a crowd, that wealth of people who were just as delighted to nerd-out over pervertables and rope-ties as I am, and you know, the potential availability of loads of playpartners.i think that there is the perception among kinksters that we can't be fighting for kink on too many fronts at once--that we're too busy trying to get respect from the vanilla mainstream to talk openly about our internal problems, that we should cut ourselves some slack since there's probably *less* trouble around consent than in the rest of the world (though i've yet to see the studies supporting that assumption). but you know what? that's not good enough. people on the public scene are a big crowd of nerds, and *as* nerds, we totally have the brainpower to multitask. if/when i go back to kinky socializing, it will be with the understanding that i'm not going to hesitate to be the buzzkill at the party (ie: "no, sorry, mister top, i did NOT give you permission to smack me there, at this moment, that is NOT funny") and with a sense of responsibility towards FIXING this problem (even if that just means throwing my own parties and not inviting dicks).

  4. Yes. I am one of those people in a D/s relationship who has agreed to take it...from the person I'm in a D/s relationship with. But there's a really big difference between my girlfriend hitting me whenever and random friends who I've maybe played with once hitting me whenever. I'm still furious at the guy who wound his hand in my hair and pulled really, really hard out of nowhere while we were in a deli waiting for our food. That shit is not okay.

  5. I'm curious about how much is supposed to be negotiated in public BDSM, and how politeness and social norms work for the rest. I've only been a few times, but there were times when I got creeped out. On the other hand, as a noob I had no idea how people were expected to behave, so I couldn't tell if I had just blundered into a space that I was uncomfortable in, rather than that person being weird. At one event a guy kept coming up to my and my bf and starting pretty explicit conversations right off the bat, like did I like to pee on people's faces. It seemed intrusive to me, but on the other hand, we were standing right next to a naked guy covered in clothespins. Maybe that implied that we were all already on the topic of pervy sex? And it's not like you can negotiate that ahead of time. "Is it okay if I talk to you about peeing on my face?" seems unnecessary.

    I guess what I'm trying to ask is, when you are out of scene, you're still participating in BDSM in a way (watching scenes, checking out toys, eating M&Ms). You are obviously not following conventional on-the-street ideas of what is and isn't rude, and it isn't just acknowledging kink - pee on the face guy weirded me out because he just started talking about sex right away. If someone came up to me, introduced themselves, and then asked if I liked hetero vanilla sex I would also be uncomfortable. How do you know what parts of your expectations for how people should behave to leave at the door? Obviously "don't randomly hit people" should come in, but what about things that don't get explicitly negotiated, like conversation?

  6. THANK YOU. I put up with shit like that for months because I loved the shit-giver. But it was not ever okay, and I was never okay with it. It made me feel continuously disrespected and on edge. I've finally realized that this was not a person who liked me, or who liked hitting people who want to be hit. This was a person who liked hitting people, PERIOD, and that was a Very Big Problem.

  7. This is a great post. I'm really annoyed by the expectation for doms (especially men who top women) to play a little fast and loose with consent, as a weird form of flirting. The fact that I don't start randomly topping you doesn't mean I'm not interested, it means that I respect your consent.

    @Emma: I would have been weirded out by that too. I've definitely had "zero to kink in ten seconds" conversations, but they had some direct relevance to what was going on and were phrased in a way that made it pretty easy to escape the conversation or keep it at the level of euphemism if I was uncomfortable. (Like: "Hey, I liked that scene you did earlier, I was wondering if you'd be at all interested in topping me later?" or "What do you think of _that_? [gesturing to the intense scene across the room]") Bringing up explicit fetishes and asking intrusive questions is definitely still weird.

  8. Thank you for writing this, because fuck yes.

  9. I comprehend this. I have had several friends who did not respect my boundaries and have actually taken to making rules with people that "you do not lay hands on me unless you have distinct permission, because the first reaction I have at this point is to take a swing at you. Neither of us want that."
    The grey area is that my boy and I spar, and often it starts randomly from one of us poking, or smacking the other. So a little of the receiving end and comprehending your post, and a little of the "but dude, you're allowed to hit back if i hit you!" Which makes me feel bad but there it is.

  10. This, so much.


    I get where you're coming from, because I have a few relationships where playful sparring is totally fine. The thing is, this is something that everybody involved knows is okay beforehand. It is, in that sense, consented to.

    I've punched people back for getting grabby or hitty when I wasn't asking for it, and while that usually communicates the point effectively it's kind of a social buzzkill.

  11. heh. normally I'd prefer not to, but the local nightclub I go to, the rules for physical contact are different than everyday
    Example: girl friend of mine (completely wasted out of her mind) comes up and hugs me. This is fine, I hug her back. She bites down (hard!) on tendon. I tell her "No, stop." She continues, biting harder. I repeat myself, more firmly and a little irritated "NO. Stop." She still doesn't stop and finally I reach up and yank her hair to the point her head is bent back. Now-I really, strongly dislike having to do that. I really truly do. It makes me uncomfortable and upset, but she was hurting me, and she was NOT listening. When she has been sober, when she has been drunk, we have discussed my personal space issues. While I prefer to avoid said situation-it's happened more than once, and unfortunately "NO. I said STOP" Doesn't get the point across no matter how angry or irritated, or serious I sound. :/

  12. This is as applicable to vanilla people.

    I had this boyfriend once who, after we became intimate, would touch me all the damn time. You know, come up behind me and grab my ass or reach around and grab a breast.

    I didn't like it.

    I liked him touching me during sex. I liked hugging him and holding hands with him. I did not- NOT- like to be randomly grabbed. And I could not communicate to him that just because we had a sexual relationship it didn't make me all the damn time sexual and totally okay with being touched unawares.

    At the time, I put up with it, but looking back, that should have been my first clue that he just didn't get boundaries or respect.

  13. Honestly, my point isn't so much that you shouldn't physically defend your personal boundaries (as far as I'm concerned, if you hurt me I'm allowed to hit right back) as that you shouldn't have to.

  14. quite...oh well. no such thing as a perfect world. best we can do is keep fighting the good fight til folks get it

  15. Emma - That is not appropriate, even in BDSM circles. (At least any of the ones I've been in.) You're still supposed to make some attempt to get to know people before whipping out your conversational cock.

    I think the "Foot Fetish Guys Need To Learn To Not Be Creepy" video is appropriate here:


  16. YES THIS.

    One of things I liked most about hanging out with kinky people is that the assumption of casual physical contact is not there as much. When we have acquired new friends, I've often had to engage in the social buzzkill moment of "No, YOU do not have my permission to touch me like that." And that has made me get serious about asking for permission for contact: "Can I smack your ass?" is a very common question, and the yes or no is always respected.

    And with good friends I'll often give out a (more or less) open season pass, but just because one person can do something to me does not mean anyone else can.

    too much blathering. But yes: this is a problem that I would like to see addressed.

  17. It shames me to admit it, but I used to be one of those people... until a close friend yelled at me and gave me a steely death-glare after I encroached on hir personal space. I don't know why I ever thought it was okay to touch or hit people without their consent, but I'm fucking glad I learned it's not.

    I have limited experience in the kink scene, but so far I haven't really experienced overt, touch-based breaches of consent. On the other hand, I have noticed a lot of doms encroaching on people's personal bubbles. For example, when I'm sitting next to a dom, they might put their arm on the back of my chair, or turn toward me and lean forward as we converse. I don't consider myself a sub, but doms seem to automatically think I am (granted, I have social anxiety, so I'm often silent or softspoken, which could be read as submissive. My feminine clothing might also play a part).

  18. Wow, ugh -- i feel like i need to send flowers to, like, my entire local kink-scene. Although not-being-assholes really *should* be the default!


  19. I used to hold exactly your position on this topic, Holly, but since then I've--tempered it? I think that's the right word. Absolutely, nobody has the right to hit you out of nowhere, just like nobody has the right to grab your ass out of nowhere. But "a casual dope-slap for being a goofy little dingus" happens all the time outside of the context of the BDSM community, in the general social world, and nobody bats an eyelash. (To be fair, we may be operating on different ideas of what a "dope-slap" is. I always saw the term as implying extreme lightness.) To further extend the analogy to touching, people poke each other all the time and it's not seen as invasive or a violation of consent. The polite thing to do when someone taps or pokes you casually is to ask them not to do it again. (And if they do, then YES it is ABSOLUTELY a violation of your rights and they are creepy and wrong and you should make them go away. But the point is that you have as little right to respond to something small with overwhelming force as they do to initiate such force.)

    That being said, there IS a line. Somewhere between poke and ass-grab, touching without asking becomes seriously not-ok, just like hitting does somewhere between "dope-slap" and "leave handprints." I don't know exactly where that line *is*, and I will be the first to admit that that is a failing in this model of things, but I am confident that it exists and has those boundaries around it. (Line is, of course, subject to alteration by social context. If your boyfriend grabs your ass outside of a sexual encounter, as PersonalFailure's did, that's probably on the good side of the line prior to discussion about it--but when she asked him not to it put that right back on the bad side of the line. That's an important point--that line only exists before you talk about boundaries. Once you say something is unacceptable, it becomes so.)

    tl;dr It would be nice is everything could be contractual, but it can't, so common law re: tort has to be reasonable and context-dependent.

  20. You hit the nail right on the head: it's all about consent.

    I will say that there are many kinds of subspace, and different people have different ways of getting there. Some subs love getting a surprise smack in the face in social situations and get woozy right away... If it's the right person doing the smacking, which is where consent comes in.

  21. I'm not talking here about strangers in the community; that really would be straight up assault.

    If someone intentionally hits you without your consent, it is battery, regardless of whether they are a stranger or not.

  22. I've only gone to the one meeting, and everyone was quite respectful of my space there, thank god.

    But I've had this issue in vanilla contexts. Not only am I generally a no-touchy guy, I'm a rape survivor. Just about everyone who knows me decently is aware of this. As a result, I do not like people coming up behind me and grabbing me, or really doing any physical contact besides handshakes without my express permission.

    Most of the people I know respect this, thank god. But sometimes, I get those people who think it's funny to dart up behind me and grab me by the shoulders just to watch me jump and freak out. And of course, these are the people who get defensive and bitchy when I call them out on it, because god, I am taking it way too seriously.

    I can only IMAGINE how I would react if people were to just randomly smack me out of the blue.

    I mean, shit. Mac usually needs to be begged and pleaded and outright ORDERED to even scratch up my back, but I would rather that to the reverse.


  23. Hershele OstropolerJune 22, 2011 at 12:15 AM

    "You've let me hit you before so it's okay now" is exactly equivalent to "we've had consensual sex before so it couldn't possibly be rape."

  24. Totally. This very thing happened to me, by a guy who was/is very respected in our local scene, and he was really shitty about being called out on it. We don't really speak anymore, and it soured my relationship with that particular social group considerably.


  25. @Gabrielle: Lighter version of the same upbringing here. Hi!

    Yeah, when I was a little girl, my brother hit me in front of my parents once and got in trouble. Not because "people shouldn't hit each other" but because "BOYS shouldn't hit GIRLS." For several years after that, I would hit him whenever he annoyed me, on the assumptions that a) it was OK and b) he couldn't hit back.

    I did eventually realize that hitting outside kink contexts is a Bad Thing, but I do give in to the urge to give a playful shove once in a while. I feel incredibly guilty about it every time, and i'm working on cutting that shit out.

  26. I was at a play party and had a nice scene with a guy. We started up again, and I was not interested in where he was taking it, so I asked for something else to happen, and it did; it ended up as a very nice time. The rest of the evening he continued being very playful with lots of other people, and they seemed to be grooving on it. I didn't expressly say "I don't want to go further with you," and the scene did involve a lot of nipple-grabbing, which was on the edge of what I was okay with from him, but was okay.

    Considerably later, after I wasn't flirting with him at all, I was leaving. Had the coat and everything, but it was a long drive so I went upstairs to use the restroom. He was coming down them, blocking my way from above. He grabbed my nipples and squeezed, and it was definitely unwelcome.

    I don't remember what I said but I don't think I used a safeword. He was definitely in a threatening position, and I was definitely not experiencing it as a kink scene where a safeword applied. He either noticed that I was unhappy or hadn't meant more than a brief interaction and let me by.

    I've never spoken to him about it. His intentions were clearly playful, he was high on the play, and I'd been a partner earlier in the evening. I felt very uncomfortable, in the moment, and after in the car as I spoke to my partner about it. I'm surprised at myself for not saying something assertive at the moment, or for not talking about it with him after. It's been months now, and if he reads this I'm not even sure he'd recognize himself. I think the moment was unremarkable to him.

    I've been in other play party situations where my boundaries with partners have been fluid after formal play. I often like it a lot when the evening isn't about Formal Scenes but a general haze of fun. It was just this guy, or the night, or something about the ambush on the stairs...

    But everyone needs to remember that consent for a scene and during a scene is *ONLY* for that scene!

    It's even more true when it's a different day, in a different context.

    I'm not scarred or anything, but I'm wary, and I'll never play with him again.

  27. Thanks Semiel & Holly - that was sort of what I thought. He was pretty harmless, and I think a lot of my discomfort was from being unfamiliar with the scene and not knowing if that was what everyone was supposed to be doing. That video is hilarious! And probably good advice for everyone, foot fetish or not.

    I'm kind of depressed about the number of commenters who've had this kind of non-negotiated hitting happen. I thought kinksters were usually better at talking about boundaries than vanilla folks.

  28. Emma:

    I'm not familiar with kink scenes, but my first association on reading your story was a sci-fi convention.

    If you go to a sci-fi convention, it's obviously because you like sci-fi and probably enjoy talking about it. And yet, someone coming up to you at random and saying, "So do you like ?" may come across as... at least random, and possibly creepy, depending on hir body language and other factors.

    As was said before, the way to initiate a conversation is by context: Express awe at relevant toys (die-jewelery or floggers) (but no touching! obviously), talk about shared experiences ("What did you think about that panel/scene?") and such things.

    Continuing that metaphor - granted, if that happens to be your favorite book, it may spark a fun conversation; but the same may happen if the person just happens to ask you about a fetish activity you've been dying to do. Going by context is safer anyway.

  29. The anonymous at 6:22 said something about how pokes and other types of touch are totally normal in vanilla contexts and no one thinks twice about them, etc.

    Well, I disagree. MANY people don't think twice about them, but I go into full-fledged, heart-racing, adrenaline rush, fight-or-flight mode when someone pokes me unexpectedly. Or in ANY way touches me or invades my personal space if I'm uncomfortable with them. Or touches me lightly when I'm upset, even if I love and trust them. I have abnormal sensory processing and am hypersensitive to tactile input (touch, especially light touch, as sensed through the skin) - but so are lots of people.

    But I don't want to make trouble, and life involves a lot of contact. So I put up with handshakes and hugs and pokes from a lot of people, whenever I can manage to tolerate it, and the invasion isn't too egregious. But it would sure be nice if I didn't have to do that. And I -really- appreciate it when there are people in my life who are comfortable with being told or cued that I'm not okay with certain kinds of touching, at least under certain circumstances.

    Ultimately - the crossing of a boundary doesn't necessarily mean that the person doing the crossing is doing something inherently wrong; it's simply something that doesn't work for someone, at least with that person, at that time, in that mood, etc. That doesn't make boundaries any less important though. And just because certain types of touch are common doesn't mean they don't cross boundaries - rather, it means that those boundaries are just less likely to be clearly expressed.

  30. Ava,

    I'm on the same page with you there. I am a rape/abuse survivor and have issues with PTSD & anxiety, plus s major startle reflex. If someone touches or grabs me by surprise or without my consent, my first reactions are to hit them and/or freak the fuck out.

    My mom has a good friend whose husband has never had a sense of respect for other people's boundaries, and he set off a major panic attack by grabbing my foot from behind while I was going up stairs. I started and fell down a 2-story metal staircase, then my mom got made because I yelled at the guy over it (which led to a convo with he I did not want to have about why I wasn't comfortable with being grabbed). Not surprisingly, I found out later this same guy had also grabbed my sister's boobs.

    So yeah, it happens in vanilla context, but it's still not something that should be acceptable. There are many people not open to or comfortable with being randomly touched, and it's ridiculous that we're expected to just ignore our own boundaries and comfort levels because it might offend some grabby asshat to be told to keep their hands to themselves.

  31. This is the anon from 6:22.

    I apologize if I misconstrued my point; I don't mean to say that because a touch is small it's okay even if it freaks you out. You are sovereign over your body, and if you ask someone not to touch you even in a small way like poking, then in future they are really *really* in the wrong if they do so. I also didn't mean to imply that such touch was okay with strangers or only casual acquaintances; I do see a lot of casual poking that nobody bats an eye over, but only among fairly close friends.

    I have absolutely no issue with you setting your boundaries wherever you need/want to set them. I have an issue with expecting everyone to step lightly around everyone else, in all contexts, ever, for fear of violating boundaries whose location is completely unknown to them. If someone does something that makes you uncomfortable or worse-than-uncomfortable, tell them!

    Trust me, I used to have extreme tactile issues too. I know what it's like to freak out over a small touch. And I have gotten around it by asking the people I know not to touch me when I'm upset unless I solicit it, and they all respect that.

  32. When I read this post, I thought about ... paintball.

    Within the context of a paintball game, which has an explicit start, explicit stop, explicit rules, well-defined safety equipment, and a well-defined field of play, I am consenting to be shot with a paintball - something that may result in a big, ugly, painful welt.

    If any of those conditions were not in force - if the game were not expressly active, if I were outside of the field, if I weren't wearing the equipment, or if the rules weren't being followed ... that's assault. And I don't think anyone would have trouble seeing the difference, so I don't know why this is apparently difficult for some people in other contexts.

    Except - there's this one guy with whom I play paintball, and he always runs his gun "hot" - too high of a muzzle velocity. It's not enough to make the game more dangerous, but it's enough to give him a distance advantage, and it's enough that his hits hurt worse than other people's. It's really annoying, and he just shrugs and says that it's hard for him to reset because he needs a special tool or something. Whatever. I guess people can act like jerks in any setting. We've tried "policing" it by everyone making pointed comments about it and "teasing" him, but it hasn't gotten the message across. He's not really a guy who understands subtle messages and nuance, so I guess maybe he genuinely doesn't get it. If I play with that crew again, I guess maybe I'll need to be explicit.

  33. Amen Sister!
    My sweetie and I have long had a routine where, when she needs punishment, she drops her pants for the ritualised caress of her bottom. She knows she is being punished and why she is being punished but this is far more effective than beating the crap out of her.
    She knows who is boss and I don’t need to prove it by damaging her.

  34. Anon@3:12: I do not consent to being part of your D/s play by reading you describe your intimate sex life to everyone on this comment thread IN ORDER to make the comment part of your sex life. Observer consent: it's also a thing.

    I don't care what you and your significant other do or don't do. I don't like your implication that spanking/hittysex/impact play is damaging, but I'll let that slide. I DO care that you are obviously posting that comment on this thread because it gets you off, and as a reader of that blog that's not what I'm here for. Safeword, dude.

  35. what Personal Failure said about "vanilla" issues - waaaaaaaay too many people think that having sex with a person allows you unlimited access to their body just *whenever*

    back when i was still setting people on fire, i had to make an explicit NO ONE TOUCH ME IN ANY WAY WITHOUT ASKING ME FIRST - because A) why the hell do so many guys assume any woman is a sub/bottom? i'm NOT B) MOST touch [normal-people touch - the aformentioned poke, for instance] HURTS. a lot. and people don't Get It [except PF :) i mean i know many people DO get it, but MANY more do not] and C) i have PTSD. you run up behind me and smack me, chance are good i'm gonna turn around and lay you out.

    i will say - other than a few assholes, most people i know who are part of the local BDSM community are a LOT better about not touching me than other people who AREN'T into the BDSM community. i have one friend i can't let near me, because he ALWAYS tries to give me a "shoulder rub", won't LISTEN when i say no, hurts me [he's made me cry in pain multiple times] and then stands there confused when other people yell at him.

    huh. now that i think of it, he's a guy i used to have sex with. but he did this BEFORE we ever had sex. so... he's cool otherwise, it's just this ONE THING [really only this one thing. sigh]

  36. charthemagicdragonJune 23, 2011 at 5:28 PM

    Hi. This is Charlotte. Been creeping your blog for a couple of weeks, but haven't posted anything. This, though, this matters to me. As that weird vanilla chick who hangs out with kinksters a lot, there have been several times when people I barely know have taken it upon themselves to give me a playful smack in the ass. Sometimes they think they're getting in on/adding to something sexy I'm doing with someone else. But not only are they touching me in ways they were not invited to do so, they're hurting me! And I don't like hurt, at all! I get that there are not many vanilla allies hanging around most of the time, but even within the community there are a good many people who do not receive pain, from anyone.

    As a side note, something tells me that if I were/presented as a guy, those people would not be so quick to assume I'm a masochist/submissive. Just sayin'.

  37. I hate being smacked/sneaked up on/etc. But what I hate most out of any casual touch in the world is being tickled. Yeah, that's right, tickling: the harmless, fun thing people will even do to babies.

    Unfortunately, even though tickling feels awful to me and immediately makes me want to kill the person doing it...it also reflexively makes me laugh. Therefore, most people assume I must be enjoying myself and keep going even though I'm cringing/flailing/screaming "STOP."

    I have this tremendous fear that one of these days, someone will playfully tickle me and I'll just start pounding their fucking face until they're dead. Maybe I have PTSD, I dunno...anyway I picture myself having to tell the police (or a jury) "...but that person was tickling me!" and I dread how stupid that will sound.

    Anyway. My point is that even touches that seem harmless to one person can be a big fucking deal to another, and that's why this post about consent is so completely important and true.

  38. If you're body reacts to touch, that's not consent. It's especially not consent if you're crying/flailing/screaming "STOP." Some people are assholes.

  39. I agree, Anon - although I understand how a person might not realize they're traumatizing me since I'm laughing (and since shrieking "NO!" at the Tickle Monster is pretty standard practice even when everyone's having fun).

    It seems even more assholey to me when people have started creeping toward me going, "are you ticklish?" and I said "being tickled feels awful and gives me panic attacks. DO NOT TOUCH ME" and they did it anyway. Which has happened many times.

  40. Perversecowgirl - I feel much the same about tickling. And I've found that it's very effective to, whenever tickling comes up in conversation, very seriously tell people that I hate being tickled, and I will reflexively kick them in the face if they try it. They usually believe me. The trick is getting out "I will kick you in the face" while giggling uncontrollably, when they haven't been forewarned....before the face-kicking starts. Yes, really, I do actually involuntarily kick people when tickled. Sometimes in the face. Very Serious Face when explaining/threatening usually helps, as long you can catch them before they start and the laughter sets in.

  41. Perversecowgirl;

    like the latest Anon and Ava, i HATE being tickled [in my case, like most touch, it HURTS]

    it DOESN'T make me laugh - i stand there going "ow fuck STOP" and the person tickling me INVARIABLY says "that doesn't hurt!"

    yes. it fucking does. but so would hitting that person. except - this is just about the only GOOD part of the wheelchair [it's harder to tickle me] and the cane [something to BEAT people with when they don't STOP]

    :( i wish i had specific advice, other than the pre-emptive "i hate this and WILL hurt anyone who does it"
    wait - maybe i do - does your group have a word that is the generic "stop" word? [our local group uses green - yellow - red] if you shout that word anytime someone starts, that should get it across.

    sigh. WHY is "don't touch me without my consent" so HARD to get across?

  42. Ava and Denelian: I suppose I haven't actually told people "If you tickle me I will hurt you" but I've said "If you tickle me I will want to kill you" and most of the time that doesn't even slow people down. Maybe that particular phrasing doesn't make it clear enough that I'll inflict pain.

    And I don't really hang out in kink circles per se so there's no "safeword"...I'm talking about, like, random friends (or even people at work!) who'd get that gleam in their eye and ask if I'm ticklish.

    I really think that people don't take us seriously about tickling simply because for most people, being tickled is harmless and fun. People are monumentally self-centred; we tend to assume everyone else's body and brain works just like ours.

  43. Perversecowgirl;

    first - apologies for my assumption. i could list reasons why i assumed you were complaining about kink people, but it's irrelevant. i'm sorry.

    second... I... ok, so ONE reason i made that assumption is that, IME, it's not common for non-kink people to be that touchy-feely. it's only MY experience, and yours is obviously much different, but that sort of baffles me - ESPECIALLY people with whom you work. there are *laws* against that [and that may be a thing to say to people with whom you work who can't seem to refrain from assulting you - and it is assult, even if THEY don't get that.]

    contrawise, instead of offering PHYSICAL harm, maybe threaten "social harm". as in, something like "you may think being tickled is fun, but i hate it. if you ever tickle me again, we won't be friends anymore - because you will have shown that you can't respect me and my boundries".
    i think you're right, threating to kill someone s [generally] perceived as more of a "joke" than a real thing.

    i just... i wish i had something really helpful that wasn't going to punish you as much as the offender(s). that's awful. people SHOULD understand that you don't want to be tickled. hell, even back when being tickled didn't hurt me, i hated it - and there were several people, who i adored otherwise, that i quit being friends with because they just wouldn't fucking STOP.
    and if you say "don't DO that, i don't like it and it's disrespectful", of COURSE the conversation is then about how you are "over reacting" to something so "innocent and harmless"

    it's NEITHER innocent nor harmless - it's a direct violation of your bodily integrity.
    but it's also one of those areas where if you give a flat "I DO NOT LIKE THIS AND WILL NOT TOLERATE IT" people are going to think the problem is YOU, and not the assholes who can't respect your boundries :(

    but seriously, your coworkers, at least, should effing know better.

    i'm so sorry. i wish i had something better :(

  44. Ah yes, the gleam. I know that gleam. If they're really determined, I death-glare at them and say something along the lines of "If you tickle me I will kick you in the fucking face." Since I'm flexible enough to actually kick people in the face, and I say it seriously, it usually gives people pause - because it could actually happen. Whereas hyperbole (which people usually presume death threats to be) isn't quite as ominous.

    And, yeah, going all serious about it does throw people off sometimes, but...that's their problem. This isn't really something I'm willing to compromise on. I'll tolerate a lot of touching that I don't really like or want, because it's not THAT bad and it's generally socially accepted and it would cause awkwardness or difficulty if I objected or avoided too thoroughly....but this is one of those places I'm willing to draw hard and fast lines. And sometimes kick faces.

    (For the record, I'm not normally a violent person. I kick when tickled, and I occasionally wrassle drunk people to get things away from them so they can't hurt their silly selves.)

    Handshakes and casual hugs from acquaintances I don't know well? I'd really rather avoid those things too, but the social discomfort of doing so would, for me, weigh more heavily than the sensory discomfort of tolerating, and avoiding when possible. Tickling is in a different place on that spectrum. And, of course, I can see the slippery slope of the spectrum...but what're ya gonna do?

  45. As someone who's at best ambivalent about most of the "isms" (despite my life as a kink/fetish positive lower class black male), I've never been the type of person to approve of or even tolerate violation of peoples' personal bubbles. I don't like to be touched by strangers (up to and including shaking hands) and I've gotten very good results against touchers by explicitly telling them to not touch me at all unless I know that they're there. When people have violated my personal space (and when I've seen obviously lecherous/obnoxious people of either sex violating the space of others against their will) I've never felt any shame in voicing my displeasure as loudly as possible. I'd rather be temporarily embarrassed than permanently inconvenienced.

  46. So much YES to this post.

    I love to play, and I will play casually and sometimes at the drop of a hat. But there are very few people I want to just start hurting me out of the damn blue without checking in first. My boyfriend is allowed to do it because he owns me. A small handful of other people can do it too. And everyone I allow to do that absolutely must understand that it is never okay to interrupt me to do it -- anyone who comes up and smacks me on the ass mid-sentence can pretty much say goodbye to that ass.

    Casually inflicting pain on bottoms in non-sexual situations, especially with the "Oh-ho, you naughty girl!" attitude it often comes along with, is often just straight-up undermining as well as disrespectful of boundaries. It just kind of screams "whatever you were trying to do a moment ago, it doesn't matter, because I wanted to hit you and that was more important!"

    There are few things that make me feel as socially undervalued as being in the middle of a great conversation about, I dunno, superhero movies, and then someone comes up and bites me and I have completely lost the thread of what I was trying to say in the midst of sudden nonconsensual pain, and it's just not supposed to matter.

  47. I have to say:

    First of all, this post and most the other commentators are made of win.

    Secondly, I've noticed that when living in Britain, people didn't assume that I was more touchy-feely (I am, but only to certain people in strictly defined contexts. Otherwise, I absolutely hate touch and my body reacts to it like it's a physical threat), but moving back to the USA, there was a lot more. Granted, not everyone was an asshole about it, but a lot of people were surprised and confused when I said things like 'do not touch me without asking first'.

    I have always admired my parents for teaching me and my siblings that the only people ever allowed to touch you without consent are parents and doctors in the context of trying to stop you from doing something immediately dangerous or doing something for your medical care, and they really ought to ask as well. I remember refusing to let my relatives get near me until I knew them, and my parents respecting my boundaries. Contrary to what some asshole relatives snidely commented would happen, I'm actually rather cuddly with friends and family, but there are times when I do NOT want to be touched at all and it is not okay to do so. They were awesome people who always told me that I had no obligation to let people touch me just out of social convention or whatthefuckever.

    My sister dislikes touch more, and I had to learn to ask before things like hugs and pats on the shoulders, so asshats who tried to touch her/me/my younger sibling were firmly told off. One boy in middle school refused to believe my warnings that my immediate reaction to touch I don't want is KILL IT WITH FIRE, so he randomly ran his hands through my hair and I reflexively stabbed his hand with my mechanical pencil. Not a happy day.

    Thank you, Holly, because this needs to be said and you say it better (and more eloquently) than I mostly can.