Elements of Embodiment Part 7: Learning About Consent

Yes and No painted on the ground with feet straddling both

We are taught, from a very young age, that we don’t have complete control over our bodies. And if we grew up with families that wanted to police our gender, we might have felt that we had to be dressed, and act, in ways that we didn’t want. If we were socialized as female, we learned that we didn’t always have control over access to our bodies. And even now, as adults, for physical safety, we sometimes have to dress or act in ways that we don’t want.

In most situations, as adults, we get to really define what we want, and how we want our bodies to be interacted with. But because of this early training, we don’t always know what we want, or our limits are.

I’ve already mentioned the Wheel of Consent, which is a practice and modality I am training in at the moment. The Wheel is a great framework for understanding consent, and our yesses and noes.

First, let’s talk about boundaries and limits. The Wheel has a clarification of this language that I really love. We usually talk about our boundaries as a kind of rigid, fixed borderline. But in this framework, our boundaries are what we are responsible for: our bodies, our actions, our emotions, etc. And our limits, that is, the things we are willing and not willing to do, can flux and change. At some moments, our limits might be quite open, and at other times, our limits are very closed – we aren’t willing to do much. And that’s normal and OK to have those fluctuations. What we might be willing to do today, or at this moment, we may not be willing to do later.

And how do we learn our limits, and, more importantly, what we want? That’s a practice, and it’s helpful to learn in an embodied way, how our yesses and noes feel. One way to get at this is what’s called the “Three Minute Game.” The game is about experimenting with touching someone else for our own pleasure, and being touched both for our own pleasure, as well allowing touch for someone else’s pleasure.

Like much of what I talk about here, it is a practice to learn our authentic yesses and noes, and what we want – because for most of us, truly living into and owning these are a new thing.

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