It seems to me that when people join the BDSM or Kink scene they expect it to be free of rules and restrictions. A Fet bubble where they can do what they want, to whom they want, freely.
That perception couldn’t be further from reality!
In order to keep ourselves and our partners and the community safe within the extremes of what we practice, it is vital that the community members follow certain rules, protocols and etiquette. The core of these concepts is consent.
Consent must be (FRIES) Freely given, Reversible, Informed, Enthusiastic and Specific.
Consent starts at the very beginning, with the very first interactions between people. “Do you hug?” It’s a simple phrase, and yet seems, so often, so hard to say. In my experience, it needs to be practiced, until it rolls off the tongue with ease. And it does become easy. Sure, there are variations like “Are you hugging today?”, “Would you like a hug?”.
Why is this important? Because it asks for consent. Because it shows you take consent seriously. Because if you take consent seriously with hugging, you probably take consent seriously with more extreme activities. Because it’s appropriate to ask before making physical contact with another human being. And they have a right to refuse. Without negative consequence. “Thanks, but no thanks” or “Actually, not today” or “Perhaps another time” or “Lets fist bump instead” are all appropriate responses.
Why? Because they didn’t want to. They don’t have to have a reason, they don’t have to share their reason with you … they just didn’t want to. And that’s OK. Reasons could include they don’t want close physical contact right now, they’re feeling fragile, there’s someone else in the room making them feel uncomfortable, they have a physical injury… the list goes on.
The responsibility isn’t just up to the person initiating the hug either. If you’re not a hugger, or don’t want a hug today, don’t just stand there waiting for the person to move in for the hug. A small step back at the appropriate time, or proffering a hand for a handshake, or slightly lifting a hand in a polite ‘back away’ acknowledgement all help the situation along. If these moves don’t come naturally, practice them. Until they do.
There is certainly an argument that you shouldn’t have to ask close friends and family if they want to hug, and I’d suggest that if you feel that way you discuss it and gain blanket consent. Because if you value your close friends and family, shouldn’t you also value their right to consent?
There’s also an argument for non-verbal consent … the arms partly open and pause waiting for a positive response. Sure, that works … but is that because it’s the most appropriate option, or because you’re having trouble using your words. If it’s the latter, practice them, until it becomes easy. It may not be easy to start with. We run parties specifically designed to practice questions like “Would you like a hug” and “Thank you, but no thank you”. They are powerful phrases that should be easy to say and easy to use without negative consequences. If you want more details on these parties, message me.
In the meantime, I’m as big a hug, touch and cuddle slut as the next person. Hug away … just ask first.