Accepting Others’ Boundaries… And Our Own

Human interaction is so fraught with peril.  I can think of nowhere that this is more obvious than when it comes to intimacy and sex. It doesn’t matter who we are, we seem to either have a hard time respecting other people’s’ boundaries or asserting our own. Some people even go so far as to not respect the fact that other people have boundaries at all. I know I haven’t been perfect in that regard. Indeed I have often been embarrassingly stupid and selfish about it. That’s why I was so grateful that my friend posted this on Tumblr.

Consent is something that has not been on our radar for very long. We still have people making the serious argument that if a woman dresses a certain way, if she is drunk, if she is high, if she is walking alone in the wrong neighborhood, is too friendly with the guys or if she has ever said “yes” that she somehow is deserving of rape. Too often it is women making these arguments.

Not that women are the only victims. Men can be pressured into sex. Not all coercion has to be physical (not that men are immune to physical threats.) We guilt trip, we whine, we argue, we wear down the other until they relent, and too much of our culture still says that it’s okay.

Too much of our culture is still based on sex being some sort of conquest or a need so great that those whose urges are strong enough are excused for their behavior. We admire sexual aggressive men, from athletes, to movie stars to politicians. We laugh off such behavior as part of human nature, ignorant to the damage being done.

We even condition our children to behave this way. It doesn’t always have to be about sex. If someone wants you out of their space, whether it is physical, virtual or emotional, respect that. It isn’t hard to do. All it requires is asking yourself how you would feel if they tables were turned. That, and maybe reading the page I linked at the beginning of the post.

I know a lot of people don’t mean to be schmucks about this issue. As I’ve said, we are influenced by so much that we watch and read. I have been bad about this in the past. I have touched people without asking and I still carry guilt about that. I don’t deserve or even expect absolution for that, but if I can get over myself, own my bad behavior,  and correct it, there is no reason that anyone else can’t.

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2 thoughts on “Accepting Others’ Boundaries… And Our Own

  1. What a difficult topic to address, yet you have managed to do so with great grace. I should like more discussions around boundaries and intimacy. I’m very fortunate to live in Portland where sex is not looked upon with shame and boundaries are respected, for the most part.

  2. Rochester is a pretty open, and usually thoughtful, city as well. Still, info is always a good thing. I thought that booklet on consent was a good one, and I hope plenty of my friends share it (I linked it on Facebook.) I am always amazed at how many people think the conversation on consent is over once you are married.

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