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This is not harmless. Even if the touch is non-sexual, it underlines the fact that random people can touch our bodies without our permission.
A couple of days ago, a video circulated on Twitter.
The video showed a young lady being repeatedly touched on the arm by a senior minister, while he explained the evacuation process. It was a group of people, and yet, the minister touched only the girl. Apart from touching her arm, he also squeezed it, and when shaking hands, covered her hand with both his hands.
Ever since I saw this video, the word consent has been whirling around in my head.
So, why the word consent, for this seemingly innocent video?, a reader might ask. Isn’t the word consent used about sexual activities, where the consent of both the partners is necessary?
Absolutely! But that is not the only place where consent matters. When someone is touched (even innocently), by a stranger who holds a powerful position, then it is time that people were made aware of what consent actually means.
Consent is a simple two-syllable word, but a word that carries depth and responsibility. Consent means taking permission before touching someone. To NOT automatically assume that a person is comfortable being touched, unasked. I am not. I hate being touched by other people unless they are dear and important to me.
But, coming once again to why that video was so triggering? Because, seeing that video brought back memories of when I was touched, unasked. I have been on the brunt of these casual brushes on arms, the random squeezes on shoulders.
It happened in parties when a friend’s husband would clasp your hand and try to pull you to get to dance despite your protests (because of course, he “knows” you are just acting coy).
When a male acquaintance casually puts his arm around me for a group picture.
When a senior manager would touch me on my shoulder, under the garb of motivating and mentoring me.
And what do I do in such situations? My heart would clench with fear, there would be an itch of discomfort between my shoulder blades, my palms would get sweaty. And yet, a smile would be pasted on my face, masking my turbulent emotions.
Why do I do that? Why don’t I let them know that I am uncomfortable?
Because that’s what I am conditioned to do. To keep quiet, to not create a scene. Their argument will always be that it is me who is over-imagining. For them, these touches are all harmless fun, no?
This is not harmless. Even if the touch is non-sexual, it underlines the fact that random people can touch our bodies without our permission. It underlines the fact that women get groped, harassed and molested. On streets, in houses, in buses, in cars, in parks, in theatres. It underlines the fact that domestic violence is still rampant. It underlines the fact that marital rape is still not a punishable offence.
When women keep quiet, when they are uncomfortable being touched by men, it tells the men that they can touch us and get away with it. So, the next time a man touches you, even casually, and you are not ok with it, object! It doesn’t matter what kind of touch it was, call it out!
The bottom line is it is your body. No one should be able to touch you without your CONSENT.
Image source: Twitter
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