Saturday, December 20, 2014

Icy Consent

On First Friday I head out onto the street in disguise.  I want to be obvious and still remain somewhat anonymous.  I want people to be drawn and repelled by how I look.  

This past First Friday, December 5, it was very cold and dark here in Portland Maine.  So I layered my self in thick clothes and sewed lights on to the outside of my dress and in my white wig.  I lined my black bow with lights on the inside so that when it was opened it shone out brightly on the darkening street.

If folks who approach me and ask my permission to see what is in the box are able to do so. If they don't ask then they may not have my permission. There are treats in the box. If they ask for permission to have a treat the they are welcome to have it. But if they do not ask and try to take a treat I close the box. If they make snide comments I ignore them or glance at them sidelong. If they are rude and disrespectful I will walk away. 

It is interesting to see folks try to figure it out. Often people think that I am trying to deal with feelings but really I just want people to start using consent.  Although my feelings are important, they are mine.  Consent and permission is that intersectionality between people.  It is the way in which we create safety and trust.  It is more important perhaps sometimes than feelings.

Also during the whole thing I do not talk verbally. I make facial gestures, simple sign language and head shakes. So much of interaction between us is non verbal. But sometimes we get lazy with our words. We forget that some people "speak" in ways different than ourselves.  We forget that people are dragging around all those feelings behind them like chains.  We trip over them and see not the person standing before us but what we think we should see.  We forget to look at people as individuals.  We forget to look and see.

But sometimes we have to take a moment and figure it out. Sometimes we have to see that the person before us is entitled to their own space. But when we see the space between us- when we ask permission to share that space, we can begin a type of communication that involves trust and caring- without having to trip over all those feelings that may or may not be there. 

Then if we ask for consent, we might perhaps be rewarded.  Sometimes the asking is its own reward.

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