belenen: (Default)

June 2017


Expect to find curse words, nudity, (occasionally explicit) talk of sex, and angry ranting, but NEVER slurs or sexually violent language. I use TW when I am aware of the need and on request.

belenen: (analytical)
Why making it safe & comfortable to say 'no' is as necessary as respecting 'no'
icon: "analytical (a close-up photo of my eye in bright sunlight, showing the green and grey and roots-looking patterns)"

To be good at consent, you have to be able to take a 'no' without external displays of hurt or offense. Because the fact that you'd never do an act that someone said no to means NOTHING if they are too afraid to tell you no because your reaction is worse than enduring things they don't want. What good is saying no when it has worse consequences than the inner turmoil of not stating your desires? If I don't say no, I can at least tell myself that my suffering is my own fault, whereas if I say no and the person reacts badly, I have to face the fact that they're more invested in not being rejected than they are in helping me to feel safe.

Reactions that I or someone I know have endured unwanted touch rather than facing include:
  • withdrawing emotionally
  • expressing self-loathing
  • apologizing profusely as if they did something wrong
  • self-harming
  • sulking or pouting
  • acting resentful or angry or insulted
  • getting irritated at them over other things that are usually not a problem
  • ceasing to initiate
  • ceasing to play
  • ceasing to cuddle
  • ceasing to express romantic or sexual interest
  • expressing a wish to be dead or not exist
  • depreciation of self
  • acting afraid to touch the person who said no
  • making snarky comments at future similar moments like 'oh NOW you want me'
  • disbelieving in the continued romantic/sexual interest of the other person.

To summarize, negative reactions include self-directed negativity, emotional and sexual withdrawal, and emotional punishment. The first two things aren't necessarily damaging to others in general, but as a reaction to a no they very often create a dynamic where the other person can't say no, and that can be very damaging.

If someone can't say no to you without fear of fall-out, they can't say no freely. And if they can't say no freely, it's not full consent. It's the responsibility of each person to make it as easy as possible for the other person to say no. Which is difficult, because it is disappointing when people say no and if you're feeling fragile it can spark a lot of negative feelings about yourself. I'm not saying don't feel those feelings: I'm saying don't make them the other person's problem.

Do whatever you need to do to manage your reaction without forcing the other person to comfort or placate you. Maybe have a list of things to read that remind you that you are loved and wanted and worthy. Maybe do something distracting like playing a game or watching a show to get past the initial overwhelm. Maybe have a set of things your person can do for you (that are easy for them! Low-energy-cost things) that will reassure you; or a set of things you can do for them, even. Maybe have a mantra you can repeat in your head to block out the negative reaction until it is small enough to handle internally. Maybe figure out the best way for them to express a 'no' that doesn't spark your insecurities so hard. Maybe give them a sentence they can say to reassure you when they say no -- and then trust in them and believe it.

I won't pretend like it's easy: it can be VERY hard. But the alternative is that your person will sometimes be merely enduring your touch and wishing you would stop. Sometimes they will experience that as merely frustrating or annoying but other times they may experience it as sexual assault or even rape. So it is simply necessary to be able to handle being told no, without your reaction causing distress to the one who said no. Nobody is automatically good at this; it is a skill that everyone has to develop. At points in my past I have done several of these and I've had several done to me. I am certain that most people who have had significant sexual experience have reacted to a 'no' in at least one of these ways.

A really good support skill for this is focusing on noticing non-verbal 'no's and asking if they actually want to continue when there is a strong change in tone, breathing, facial expression, body tension, body position, noises, etc. It is a lot easier for the person to say no when you opened the door for it, and it feels better to get a no when you opened the door for it, too. Instead of it feeling like rejection, it feels more mutual. However, even the most observant person in the world won't notice every non-verbal signal, so this is not enough on its own: it's just a good support skill. Even if you're great at noticing non-verbals (or think you are) you still need to create a dynamic where your lovers feel not just able to say 'no' or 'stop' in a dire situation, but comfortable enough to say 'nah, I don't feel like it' or 'okay I'm done now' at any time.

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belenen: (honesty)
be careful w sexual consent: discuss meaning, risk, safeword, triggers, roles, acts, sobriety, needs
icon: "honesty (me, outdoors, gazing straight at the camera with a solemn expression)"

There are a lot of ways to to cause others pain and even damage despite the very best of intentions, especially with sex and kink. This is not a comprehensive list, but it includes the most common ways I see people making consent mistakes. Here's a more in-depth discussion of most of this list: how to be careful with consent. Quoting myself: "EVEN IF you follow ALL of these steps, you may STILL accidentally coerce or violate someone. We live in a rape culture that makes it very difficult for us to understand consent, to respect our own boundaries and the boundaries of others; so sex is dangerous. We need to go in knowing we can hurt each other, and being careful to minimize that risk."

I have never discussed all of these things before first having sex with someone. There's always something I didn't think of, but I work towards being the absolute best I can at consent with each person I have sex with. I treat consent as an ongoing process of becoming more and more in-tune with what the other person wants and needs in sex.

To be fully careful with consent you need to:
  1. discuss the meaning of sex/kink for each person involved.
    • is everyone involved aware of current relationship structures and additional partners (if any)?
    • do any of the people need a shared emotional/spiritual meaning for sex/kink?
    • do any of the people need shared attitudes toward bodies for sex/kink? (I do)
    • do any of the people have a need for future connection or particular kind of relationship after sex/scene?

  2. discuss STI/pregnancy risks & how to manage them.
    • disclose your STI status and your risk factors and ask about theirs.
    • if relevant, discuss birth control and what to do in the event of barrier-method fail or pregnancy.
    • ask what methods of protection they want, tell what you want, and then go with whichever is more cautious.

  3. choose safe words/signals.
    • at least choose a word/signal that means 'stop everything'.
    • describe what you want the other person to do when you use the safe word.
    • it's good to have a non-verbal signal as well as a word since some people can go non-verbal when triggered.

  4. discuss known triggers and what to do in the event of an unknown trigger.
    • tell them your triggers and how you need them to react if they accidentally trigger you.
    • ask what they need you to avoid or be cautious with and what to do if you accidentally trigger them.

  5. discuss roles (or lack thereof) and define terms.
    • roles must be consented to and you can't guess what someone else would like.
    • define terms: there are hundreds of definitions out there, don't assume.
    • describing a typical scene/sexperience in detail is a good way to find unconscious expectations.

  6. discuss specific acts & label as ask-each-time or whatever.
    • ask what parts are okay to touch, when.
    • ask what kinds of touch are okay, where.
    • ask about marks before making any.
    • ask about sensitivities.
    • ask about oral, manual, toys, penetration, etc.
    • ask if there is anything that is never okay.
    • ask about which parts/acts are ask-first every time, and when in doubt ask first.

  7. define acceptable sobriety emotionally and physically.
    • how much intoxication is too much for sex/kink between you?
    • what level of emotional instability is too much for sex/kink between you?
    • what level of physical weariness/sleepiness is too much for sex/kink between you?

  8. discuss related needs which sex can compete with or create.
    • Do any of you have a strict bedtime?
    • Do any of you need privacy (such as not being overheard, or not having your shared stories told)?
    • Do any of you need a certain amount of aftercare time?

And within each sexual experience you need to:
  1. check for sufficient emotional & physical sobriety.
  2. ask in a way that makes it easy to say no.
  3. assume no particular acts to be included and no particular length of time.
  4. check in: pay attention to reactions and non-verbals, ask questions.

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belenen: (intrigued)
date w Evelyn: meeting Demeter, intense emotional & philosophical discussions, many cuddles & kisses
icon: "intrigued (a photo of a snow leopard with ears flattened, peering intently over a log)"

So I had a date with Evelyn on Saturday that was surprising, nourishing, exciting, scary, and overall quite magical. Part of our time will be described in my my sextalk filter, but this whole experience is so long and complex that I decided it was fine to put it in two separate posts.

seeing their house, meeting their cat )

Evelyn asked me about my life and I talked about frustrations with biofamily, then asked about their life. They didn't know how to answer at first and said that they have been feeling a particular kind of anxious that means they are avoiding something but don't know what it is (I do the same thing) and as they talked around it, the thing that had been weighing on them came up. They looked really sad and I asked if I could lay next to them -- they said yes so I climbed next to them on the couch and pulled them into my arms.

They talked about the thing that was making them so sad and cried, and apologized and said they felt bad for imposing their vulnerability on me. That made me laugh because it is so the opposite of my experience, and they said "I know, I know" when I laughed because they know that I feel it as a gift and not an imposition but still have the guilty response. We cuddled that way and I listened while they talked about it until their housemate arrived home, and then we went upstairs to their room.

We talked a lot for a while, about all kinds of things. I talked about my philosophical stance as an idealist and how I see 'objective' reality as an illusion, that to me all minds contribute a nearly-invisible layer of reality and 'objective' reality is merely the conglomeration of all that, a sort of 'average.' That the more complex a thing is, the easier it is to change the reality of it through thought due to a domino effect. I mentioned my experience of my self as five parts and how my non-physical parts are capable of shapeshifting. I can't remember all we talked about but it was really interesting.

They wanted to be spooned several times, so I asked them what being spooned meant to them and they talked about it: being small, being held. As they talked about it I realized that I do like being spooned also, but I like spooning someone else more. I like that feeling of enveloping someone. They also talked about how they find themselves more and more attracted to traits commonly referred to as masculine. I listened and didn't say much as they seemed to be working out a self-perception, but I think in me they're attracted to my assertiveness and power (which I do not consider masculine, as nothing about me is gendered).

I asked for coffee so Evelyn made french press and we sat in the living room to drink it. Demeter came to sit with us and Evelyn scooped them up and cuddled them, telling me how Demeter had helped them through the emotionally difficult times they've had lately. Evelyn said they had never connected with a cat before (partly due to allergies) and had considered themself a dog person, but that Demeter had changed that. Evelyn blamed the effect on toxoplasmosis, which I like as a general theory but in this case I think it is more about Demeter's personality; they seem very nurturing and sensitive.

We talked about the fetishization of coercion/non-consent, and about my insecurities around the fact that people might like someone being careful with consent, but they don't fetishize it, they don't think of it as actually sexy, and how sometimes that really gets to me. I can't NOT be careful about consent but I don't want to be considered unsexy because I check in and don't do things without discussing it beforehand. They told me that they find it sexy. I think still, not in the way that I mean, but I appreciated them saying that.

kissing them is wonderful )

discussing future plans )

They are outrageously beautiful and sexy to me and I remarked on this several times, to which they responded with hiding their face and laughing in seeming disbelief (with maybe/hopefully some happiness to it). I told them that they will eventually get used to it because I will do it a lot! I feel very strongly about them and so I notice every gorgeous aspect, and they have several aspects that I find aesthetically pleasing as well.

One feature I find sooo aesthetically pleasing is their lower eyelid shape -- their lower lid comes part-way up the curve of the eye, enough that there is a crease under the eye. I don't know why I find this so beautiful but I do! (Angelina Jolie has lower eyelids like that, which is one of the reasons I find them so aesthetically pleasing) Evelyn also has very mobile eyebrows, lips that are very sharply defined, a full lower lip, and very pronounced smile lines as well as dimples! all of which I adore because it makes the face seem more expressive to me. And their face is very expressive overall, and their eye color is gorgeous, and their smile is so radiant! I am more than a little smitten.

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belenen: (snarling)
CN/TW: rape / rant on the 'unintentional' rape AKA the 'misunderstanding' victim-blame argument
icon: "snarling (a photo of a snow leopard snarling in profile with teeth bared, whiskers back, and ears flattened)"

TW: discussion of rape without malicious intent )

Further discussion of this kind of rape: the 'feigning ignorance' consent violation tactic: if they care, they change their behavior. TW: rape

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belenen: (garrulous)
what I am proud of about me: skills/knowledge about intimacy & consent
icon: "garrulous(a photo of my lips with the skin greyed out and the lips overlaid with a green and blue fractal pattern)"

prompt from [ profile] antuvschle: Describe the one thing about yourself that makes you most proud.

I am very skilled at creating and nurturing intimacy. I have been practicing one-on-one for 20 years (since my first intentional friendship) and practicing with the public for 13 years (through LJ) and practicing in groups for 4 years (through intimacy practice). I am always eager to learn, and quick to change my behavior when I come across a new concept, but it is rare that I come across someone who has a deeper understanding of intimacy.

I confess that I do feel pride about my level of skill, which can be very annoying because when someone I know re-posts something that is a simplified version of what I have been writing about I get miffed that they don't take me seriously but they'll take some random white dude with a Ph.D. seriously. If we dueled I'd win, and I'm very confident of this because it literally takes up the majority of my waking life. Some people with doctorates might know as much as me on how to create intimacy but I am certain that most of them don't. Frankly the literature available is mostly devoid of intersectional analysis (which means they miss even the basics), so if you're not learning from personal experience and/or justice-focused blogs you'll just not know much.

I also feel offended when people with less understanding of consent, power, and privilege get asked to talk/teach about sex or relationships. I keep this to myself because I don't think I have a legitimate cause for complaint, since I do not seek out platforms like others do, and I know that is a factor. But yeah, I can tell that I have pride there because I expect to be treated with more deference than most on the topics of intimacy, interpersonal power & privilege, and consent.

I don't think I should take pride like this -- it has no value and serves only to get me miffed over imagined slights -- but I do!
connecting: , ,

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belenen: (antagonistic)
Don't put sex jokes in my mouth without my consent. Do not.
icon: "antagonistic (a photo of me in cat-eye makeup with violet hair, snarling with bared teeth and staring intensely into the camera)"

There is this repetitive and predictable act which is passed off as 'humor' where people imply that what someone else said is meant in a sexual manner. Examples: saying 'giggity' or 'that's what she said' after someone says that an experience was really hard.

This always bothered me but I only just figured out why: it's a violation of consent (unless you know for sure that the person doesn't mind). A mild one, comparatively, but a violation nonetheless: you are symbolically forcing someone to talk about sex without checking to see if they would be okay with that. You are assigning meaning to someone else's words that you know they did not intend. You are not engaging in a mutual act of creating a funny moment: you are laughing at someone else's expense.

In fact, most of the people* I have seen do this only enjoy it if it makes the target uncomfortable. More often than not when it is done around me there is an attitude of attempted sexual dominance. If you do not laugh when someone does this to you, they will react as if you have taken something from them. People will react in ways that show this is not consensual and attempt to play it off as okay; they say "I walked right into that." Conversations should not have traps that one has to avoid.

I can't stand it when people do this, to the point that I never use the word hard when I mean difficult unless I trust the people around me not to do this. I will avoid ever talking to people who do this regularly. I will do verbal gymnastics to avoid someone shoving their empty, unfunny, worn-out joke into my mouth for their enjoyment. It's not cute and it's not funny.

From now on if someone steals my words and assigns sexual meaning to them, I will say, "please don't do that" and when they say "what?" I'll say "don't assign a different meaning to what I'm saying." or I may just say, "don't twist my words" depending on how annoyed/bold I am feeling.

*some people just love making people laugh and do this word-twisting in an attempt to be funny without realizing the effect it has. I can understand that. I have made such jokes before, feeling vaguely uncomfortable as I did so but dismissing it because I couldn't figure out what the problem was. Now that I have, I will not be doing it any more.

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belenen: (snarling)
the feigning ignorance consent violation tactic: if they care, they change their behavior. TW: rape
icon: "snarling (a photo of a snow leopard snarling in profile with teeth bared, whiskers back, and ears flattened)"

TW: discussion of boundary violation, manipulation, and lack of effort to avoid rape )

Emma Lindsay writes about this tactic (TW: link contains descriptions of rape) -- "...despite whatever lie he told me or told himself, he knew I didn’t want to have sex with him. He knew I didn’t usually lie there like a dead fish. He could tell when I was wincing in pain. When I told him I had been in pain afterwards, he showed no surprise. I had only articulated what he already knew but was pretending he didn’t."

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belenen: (powerful)
bioparent M thinks love is a desire for ownership / feeling worthlessness is a sign of bad patterns
icon: "powerful (Frazetta's "Sun Goddess": a person with large breasts and belly and thick muscular thighs, standing with arms out and head back, knife in one hand, sabertooth tiger snarling by their side)"

prompt from [ profile] ragnarok_08: What was the most sobering thing your parents have said to you?

What comes to mind most strongly is my parent M telling me that no one would ever love me as much as M did. This bothered me at the time but it took me a while to fully understand why. For one thing, it felt like a threat; "I am your greatest source of love so you better value me because if you don't, you just won't get love." For another, M has almost never made me feel loved, so it felt like they were simply telling me I was unlovable and I should expect that people who claimed to love me would try to control my every action, disallow me to show negative feelings and demand that I placate their negative feelings, devalue the parts of me that I most loved, seek me out only to get me to do work for them, show no appreciation beyond a temporary cessation of criticism, and give to others what I crave while pretending to treat me the same. I think this is why when these patterns crop up (in far milder ways), they feel so normal that I do not realize them for a while. I simply get more and more convinced of my own worthlessness. I think I need to note feeling worthless as a sign that I'm falling into these expectations again.

Honestly when I look at my childhood I'm amazed that I managed to learn how to love at all. I always thought that I was relatively well-off as far as escaping abuse goes, but I didn't realize 1) that I was physically abused and 2) that I was almost entirely emotionally neglected and was emotionally abused. M would tell me that they loved me at least every other day and would give me a hug before bed. From at least the age of 8, I never wanted this hug and never felt any truth in those words; it was part of a ritual I had to perform to keep my parents from being mean to me in response to perceived rejection. I would feel angry that they were saying "I love you" when they never showed any care for my feelings at all and literally told me on several occasions "I don't care how you feel." For years, I refused to say the words "I love you" unless I was currently overwhelmed by a feeling of love (thus, never saying it in response) in order that I would be sure to never say it meaninglessly like M did.

M mistakes a desire to own as love. M wants to own me, to have me care about their opinion and want to please them, to build up the qualities that M values and erase the ones M does not, to behave in a way that makes M feel good about themselves, to enjoy and desire M's company. M in fact thinks that being my progenitor means that they have the right to these things. M was physically and emotionally abused by their parents, so I understand why they don't know what love is. However, I think they have a responsibility to learn in order to reduce the harm they cause others, and I consider it reprehensible that they choose to protect their pride at the cost of hurting everyone around them.

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belenen: (Ma'at)
dealing with disappointment in a respectful, consensual way.
icon: "Ma'at (a photo of one side of a brass balance scale, with a feather inside the bowl. The background is sky blue. On the bottom of the image, below the photo, is the word "Ma'at")"

If you can't say no to someone without facing a negative reaction (such as pouting, begging, withdrawing, attacking, or response-blaming), they are not giving you the option of true consent. If someone can't say no to you without worrying about how they will deal with your reaction, you are not giving them the option of true consent. Coercion is the sneaky underpinning to this -- sometimes unintentional, but every bit as much a problem whether it is intentional or not. It doesn't become harmless just because someone isn't doing it on purpose.

Expressing disappointment is fine -- as long as you're not making the other person feel like they are responsible for making you feel better. Usually you will have to overtly take responsibility for handling your disappointment for this to work. For example: "I'm feeling disappointed that you don't want to [do the thing] with me. I'm gonna go [practice self care] to feel better; I'll be back" <- that is great as long as it isn't passive aggressive but is sincere effort to handle one's own emotions.

What is not okay is "I'm disappointed that you won't [do the thing] with me." *waits for the other person to make me feel better* or "I'm disappointed" *goes in another room to sulk and wait for them to come make me feel better*

That is effectively punishing them for saying no by making them do emotional work in order to have a positive environment. If you can't process out of your disappointment very very quickly, don't do it in their presence.
connecting: , ,

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belenen: (honesty)
people demonize spanking because of classism / how corporeal punishment damaged me
icon: "honesty (a photo of me in soft sunlight, gazing directly into the camera with a somber expression)"

If you were spanked as a kid, you have to accept it as morally OK in order to be able to cope with it. Growing up, you are told that you are spanked because you are loved, that this is intended to help you become a better person, that this is necessary for your growth. To reject that, you have to accept that your parents hurt you and they should not have. That's painful for a lot of people. I didn't even consider that there might be anything wrong with spanking in my early adulthood, and until meeting someone who had never been spanked I didn't even know that it was possible to actually raise children and have them become decent people without spanking. It is a damn good thing that I realized this before having kids, because it would be extremely difficult to acknowledge it as wrong after I had done it. A great lesson to teach, such a reversal of behavior, but facing the fact that I might have damaged my kids? Painful beyond imagining.

Spanking also gets blown out of proportion in relation to other suffering. Many common parental actions can be far more damaging, depending on the kind of spanking that is used. The stigma against spanking is purely in relation to class behaviors. Spanking is considered a lower class behavior - direct expressions are all treated this way. Abuses which are seen as upper class parenting are seen as more acceptable by society despite the fact that they can be every bit as damaging and in some cases more damaging. These abuses are dismissed or tacitly encouraged -- like forcing them to behave in cisgendered ways, calling them names, ignoring their needs or feelings, mocking/denigrating their bodies, encouraging them to reject empathy and see others as tools, teaching them racism and rape myths and ableism and classism etc.

Spanking after the age of eight (when a child is fully capable of reasoning) is a failure of communication and in my mind, it is abuse, ESPECIALLY after puberty. I don't know about before that - it might be useful but it may also be damaging. 

When I was about 5, I lied to my teacher. I went to a private christian school where the teachers were permitted to spank us. So my teacher took me into the bathroom, explained why lying was bad, spanked me with a ruler (not very hard) and then hugged me and emphasized that she did not want to cause me pain but wanted me to remember. I felt she was being sincere, and I felt more loved by her after that than I had before. And frankly I felt an increase of trust. I remember very little of my childhood but that memory is vivid. I don't think that caused me any damage at all. That was not the kind of spanking I got from my parents.

I have been thinking about this for the past few days and realizing how deeply this has affected me. TW: physical and psychological abuse )

What being spanked taught me was not anything related to right and wrong - I learned all that through logic, reading, and talking with people. What it taught me was 'don't piss off authority or it will overwhelm your will, humiliate, and violate you.' If I had not been physically hit and intimidated by my parents, I don't think I would struggle so much with visceral fear now. Even when I can logically understand that I am not in legitimate danger, I have a very hard time pushing myself to perform any resistance to people who are in relational authority to me or who legally can control my body (bosses, some professors, cops). I think I could do it if I felt it was necessary for someone else's safety, but not for my own. Resistance for someone else doesn't spark so much fear because I didn't get attacked on behalf of others. If I am being attacked by authority, I freeze and feel deep shame and fear, and if it seems to be a deliberate attempt to hurt me it will cause a full-on breakdown. I would flat-out be a better person had I not been trained into this deeply subconscious fear of people in authority.

Since I would want my children to feel willing to resist authority for good reasons, I would not spank them. I also don't fucking ever want to motivate people through fear, and I don't want my children to listen to me because I control them body and will. I want them to listen because they trust me through me proving that I have good ideas that make their life better, because they love me and want to make me happy, and because I show true appreciation (and when appropriate, give rewards).

Spanking is objectively harmful

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belenen: (brewing)
4 elements needed for me to feel sexual attraction: consent, bodily respect, awareness, generosity
icon: "brewing (a photo of a ceramic mug with sticks of cinnamon poking out and steam rising up)"

As a demisexual, I need to feel some kind of emotional connection with the person for there to even be a chance of sexual attraction. Often this is a connection on the spirit, soul, or heart level, but sometimes it's purely a mental connection in that we have shared a lot of intimacy in our conversations. Once I have this, the following four elements together may create sexual desire (in order of importance, not chronology).

The number one thing that determines my sexual desire is consent, both ways. To desire someone I need them to tell me that they want sex with me. No, I don't mean say flirty things or act attracted, I mean actually flat-out say "I want to have sex with you" or say an unequivocal "yes" if I ask if they want to. I'm pretty sure I won't ever feel sexual desire for anyone who doesn't feel it for me. I might have in high school (before I ever had sex), but not since I became sexually active. I also need them to be fully invested in my consent, not just asking but also showing awareness of my reactions and adjusting accordingly.

Next in importance is bodily respect: them not having terrible ideas about bodies, sex, or gender. No assigning stereotyped personality traits to body parts including genitals. No assigning body types/parts as attractive or unattractive (this is gross no matter what shape you decide is best). No ideas about more or less legitimate kinds of bodies. No believing in rules for genders. Never imposing gender on me. Not interpreting my fat as a cause or effect of my personality. Basically, not being sexist, cissexist, or looksist.

Next is awareness; self-awareness, awareness of me, ability and desire to maintain this awareness and express it throughout. To feel sexual desire for someone I need to be able to sense them letting my touch reach them emotionally. (otherwise I will feel unappreciated and/or worried that they don't really want it) I need a balance of reactive and attentive. I do not want someone who always turns into pure reaction (sometimes I might want to provide that space but not often, as it's exhausting!), but I also don't want someone who isn't reactive. I want a person who can stay mentally, spiritually, and emotionally present while feeling intensely. Someone who will still notice if I seem 'done' even if they are in the throes of sexual ecstasy. Someone who can make eye contact with me or grip my hand during sex and I can feel the 'click' of that connection.

Last is generosity (desire to give). If you could be happy only receiving every time we have sex (while knowing that I love being touched) or if you never offer anything and only give when asked, I'm not interested. I know some people are scared of not being perfect and that's why they don't want to give, and I can empathize with that, but it is not a turn-on. People who have no desire to give sexually would not be people I'd be sexually compatible with. People also need to not be so full of need that they subconsciously pull at me. That one I can't really explain, it's just a thing I feel. I don't think I can feel desire for anyone who is looking for salvation outside themselves.

If these are all met, I can have satisfying sex with a person. But each of these four elements is fucking rare. Especially awareness. So many people check out when they have sex and go to a purely physical place or have sex as a mental escape. I just don't find that remotely appealing.

Usually for it to go from "I can feel sexual desire" to "I actually want this enough to deal with the hassle of the STD/trigger/expectations conversation and the potential concerns of my current partner(s), therefore I will flip my internal switch and become sexually attracted to them" I have to be in love with the person. I don't find sex more nourishing than cuddles or conversation, so it's not worth the bother unless I am in love and therefore want to experience all possible connecting activities and want to bring them joy in any way available to me.

In a world without oppression where people valued awareness and giving, there would be many opportunities for me to want sex with people. as it is I am unlikely to want new sex partners very often )

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belenen: (analytical)
on saving kids from 'broken hearts' & teaching kids about consent / red flags for bad-at-consent
icon: "analytical (a close-up photo of my eye in bright sunlight, showing the green and grey and roots-looking patterns)"

Q: How do I keep my kid from getting their heart broken?

A: You don't. It it impossible and damaging to try. Instead, teach them what can damage them, how to spot warning signs, and how to heal if their heart is broken.

I'm tired of watching parents ask this question as they determine the level of control they're going to try to implement over their kids' life (usually just the kids that they assume to be girls). There is no level of control that will prevent your kids from getting hurt. You can only provide them with knowledge and skills so that they can avoid it sometimes and heal from it other times.

If I was teaching my kids about sex, I would never in a million years say shit like "boys only want one thing" or "don't get some girl pregnant." I would not use euphemisms at all. I would not feel awkward (because I'd be used to having frank conversations about difficult subjects) or resist the idea of my kid having consensual sex with someone they chose.

Instead, I would train them in how to be good at consent from the time they are toddlers. My kids would be trained to not hit others not because hitting is bad, but because that is a violation of consent. If I saw my kid hit someone (first I would ask their reason, and deal with any underlying issue, and then) I would explain that you do not ever touch anyone in any way unless they have told you that they want you to. This is not hard to understand, but we train kids from very early that some kinds of touch are okay to foist on others (hugs, kisses, pats (especially from older people)) and others are not (hitting, pinching). I would explain to them that a lot of people don't understand how to respect other people's bodies, and if someone ever touches them in a way they didn't say was okay, to talk with me about it. I would explain that if you cannot escape and you are in danger, this is the one situation where it is okay to fight back, but first always try to solve it with words (either talking to the attacker or talking to someone else who can stop them), or leaving, unless those aren't options. My kids would be trained that everyone's body belongs only to that person, no matter what, and that they have no right to ever expect any kind of touch from anyone.

I would teach them that other people are sometimes bad at communicating and they might need to look for non-verbal cues that another person is done with the situation. This could start as easily as a kid being "mine mine" about all their toys -- you can tell from this that they are done playing with you, and you shouldn't try to play with them any more for a while (maybe ever, if the behavior repeats). I would not force my kids to share, though I would encourage them to have empathy and want to share if the other kid was lacking.

------- TW: discussion of rape prevalence and aftermath ---------

When they got to an age where they wanted to date, I would tell them the plain truth. I would remind them that most people don't have the skill of respecting other people's bodies, and that when this comes to sex it can lead to rape. I'd tell them frankly that most rape happens with people you know, in supposedly 'safe' places, and that most people who have committed rape don't think that they have raped. I'd tell them that rapists are not people you can pick from a crowd, and that the more power someone has, the more likely that they think they are entitled to other people's bodies.

I'd also teach them not to be so terrified of rape. I think being raised with the idea that rape ruins your life forever and breaks you irreparably made my recovery far more painful and difficult. It was like a year and a half of utterly useless therapy until I got a new therapist who was willing to tell me about far more horrific things that happened to them, and how they had healed to the point where they could have physical contact with the person who abused them as a child without being triggered. Then I believed I could get to that place myself and actually began getting better. If my kids get raped, I want them to know that they can still have a good life afterward.
-------end TW ---------

I would teach them how to spot red flags for people being bad at consent. Those people will not respect your "no" in general, so always test them out first by saying an unexcused, unequivocal "no" to something they want. If they push for a reason, say "I don't want to" -- for someone with the basics of consent, they'll drop it, and if they try to talk you into it, they won't listen to what you want in sex either. If you don't feel comfortable saying no without giving some excuse, that is also a red flag, because a lover should always be someone you feel comfortable saying no to for any reason.

Other red flags: they'll make jokes about boundary violations, especially rape; they'll cut you off in conversation and talk over you; they'll put you down; they will follow you with their touch if you pull away (kisses especially); they'll respond to your arguments dismissively rather than actually considering anything you say; they'll sulk if they don't get their way; they will say things that invalidate your identity; they'll touch you without permission in non-sexual ways; they'll touch animals or friends in ways that bother the animal/friend; they will call names and/or mock people; they'll do things deliberately to cause someone to be uncomfortable/annoyed (especially as a 'joke' reaction to someone setting a boundary); they won't stop doing annoying behavior when asked; they will use things that don't belong to them without permission; they will make sexual innuendos and find it funny if someone gets uncomfortable; they will show no interest in your thoughts/opinions; they'll get offended when you don't laugh at their jokes or tell them it isn't funny; they won't show remorse when you tell them they hurt you; they will get angry when you tell them they hurt you; they'll interrupt a conversation you are having by turning away and ceasing to engage, especially if you are saying something they don't like (note: this can be a healthy choice but it can also be a control tactic); they'll ignore you and/or make you repeat yourself; they won't notice if you get upset. Anything that shows that they aren't checking in with how their actions are affecting you or anything that shows that they think their opinion or desire is more important than yours is a giant red flag for being bad at consent. Of course, this is just a red flag, not an automatic marker, so check to see if there could be another reason for the red flag (for instance, they might communicate differently due to a neurological difference, which could be worked out with discussions about how you both want to converse), BUT if there is more than one red flag take it VERY seriously.

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belenen: (healing)
cuddle communion #1! so nourishing! / consent agreements / cuddle list / leading to fill a need
icon: "healing (a photo of me and Hannah curled up together, naked, with Hannah's head resting on my legs and my arms around/over them. it's colored in violet with a fractal overlay of purple, blue, and green.)"

I had a really lovely nourishing evening last Sunday. I hosted a gather I called "Cuddle Communion" which was based loosely on cuddle parties I'd been to in the past. I went over a short list of consent agreements to begin with, and then we did structured cuddles, had a break for snacks and coffee, and then had unstructured cuddles and played truth-or-truth. I felt really connected with almost everyone there, and I definitely want to do it again. Next time I'm going to set the structured part into a flow from least to most intense, because I just did them randomly this time and that was okay, but could have been way better. Also, I want to finish the structured cuddles before the break, because after it is too hard to get back into that. And I looooove that truth-or-truth was the mental focus of the unstructured part this time, but others might want something less intense, so I want to try to set up something to listen to or watch, at least as an option.

consent agreements )

structured cuddle list )

After most people left, I was hanging out and talking with Serah and Alison about social change and leading things. Serah used to lead a spiritual gather but got burnt out, and I understand that feeling so well. I mentioned that that is why my ideal leadership is at least three volunteers who take turns and step down when they get tired. Usually what I see happen is one person leads and no one helps, and the leader gets so burnt out that they quit forever and the group disintegrates. I really think that any good leader doesn't lead because they want to lead, they lead because they see a need that no one else is filling.

Speaking of which, I felt so supported a few weeks ago when I was too exhausted to participate in intimacy practice, and the others took leadership and made it happen without me. I don't want to feel like it's mine, I want to feel shared ownership and care of IP, and that definitely made me feel that way.

I was talking with Saleena a few days ago about the same thing (good leaders just filling a need). Saleena and I are going to run a local community discussion/connection group together. The original idea was that it would be for trans people, but we want to expand it to all othered people and make it a safe space to talk or listen. I'm worried about creating a safe space where strangers can attend, because if an unsafe person attends that can be horrible, but there is no perfect solution. I think as long as Saleena and I are willing to call people on being problematic, we can make something good and safer than life in general while being imperfect.

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belenen: photo of me with violet hair looking down, with a water-reflection overlay (ethereal)
energy work: 1st efforts, shielding / a funnel not a source / avoiding manipulation
icon: "ethereal (a photo of me looking at the camera from behind a lacy green plant, while wearing makeup that includes a glitter goatee)"

What do I think is happening when I do energy work? I think that people's electric fields get dirty and hungry just like bodies, but since people don't often think about them or practice tuning in, they get neglected a lot. I think that what I am doing is using my energy field to interact with theirs in a way that clears it and pulls in nourishment for them. I think that it's really pretty simple and small, but just like a snack can totally change your outlook if you really need it, or pulling a splinter out can provide huge relief, it can feel really intense. I don't think that anyone needs energy work from another person (except maybe in rare circumstances) because your subconscious is pretty good about pushing you toward things that your energetic self needs. It's just a help.


Before I ever deliberately practiced interacting with energy, I prayed and practiced "laying on of hands" which is christian-speak for energy work. I remember the first time was when I was maybe 6 or 7, and the pastor had me stand on the stage at the front of the church and put my hands on the head of a middle-aged man who stood below. I asked what I was supposed to be doing and the pastor said "just pray for God to help him." I was devout from the age of four so this was not uncomfortable or difficult for me. I prayed, and after a little while the man fell over. I was used to people being 'slain in the spirit' but I felt very surprised that my prayer could have such an effect.

----------TW/content warning for this paragraph: pregnancy/baby scare (everything turns out okay)-------------
Later when I was about 9 or 10, I was babysitting (as a "mother's helper") for a three year old when the pregnant mother started having pains. They were really worried while waiting for a ride to the hospital and I asked if I could put my hands on their belly and pray for them. They eagerly said yes, so I did, and it calmed them and helped them to feel better. Then they went to the hospital, and everything was okay after (no one told me any details). They later thanked me effusively. It might have just been that my faith was calming in a moment of panic, but their reaction made me feel like I did something profound.
---------END content warning--------

The next time I remember affecting someone was when I was maybe 21 and my mom's back was hurting, and I rubbed it. Afterward they asked me if I had used a hotpack or something because they were feeling so much heat out of my hands. A few years after that I was at a free energy healing and someone passed their hands in front of me and so much heat was radiating from their hands that I thought they were holding a candle up next to my face. I opened my eyes, prepared to stop them from waving open flame at me, but their hands were empty. I was still feeling just as much heat from them so I know it wasn't some kind of trick. Since then I felt sure that energy could be shifted in a physical way by thought alone.


I definitely have felt physical sensations in my hands when doing energy work, especially with migraines. They feel like really intense static most of the time, like a constant yet inaudible screeching. I feel like these are more workable than most physical ailments because they have possibly an electrical cause? I dunno, it might just be that I try to help with migraines more than other physical ailments because since nothing else will work, might as well try. I did have one experience with Abby where they started to have a migraine and were losing vision and I did energy work and stopped the migraine (either stopped it from getting worse or put it to the 'hangover' stage, I don't remember). They said that usually once they start to lose vision even their meds don't help, but this did. I was really glad to be able to do that. When Topaz has a migraine, I can sometimes help, but it varies. They described it thus: a migraine is usually like an exposed and splintered broken bone where someone is jabbing at the wound with a finger. I can't help with the broken bone, but I can stop the person from jabbing at it. Topaz says that usually they just feel relief while I am actively working but sometimes it lasts after. Sometimes when they have just a regular headache I can make it go away completely during, and feel somewhat better after.

The most pronounced physical sensation I ever experienced was when I was doing energy work unintentionally on someone with MS. They had asked me for a massage to help with their chronic pain and explained how to do it (in a way that I would now clearly envision as energy work): I was to do light sweeping rubs all over, in a direction from the outer limbs to the heart. I wish I could remember more specifically. Anyway, it was the second time I was doing it and my ears started ringing, I got intense vertigo and felt weak and I had to go lay down on the floor for like 15 minutes, while my head wouldn't stop spinning. I felt very bad about it but even though I tried to push through I just couldn't. I only recently learned (or remembered) that vertigo and physical weakness are symptoms of MS -- I think I was probably tapping in to their experience without realizing. All I knew was that it was kind of scary and I must have made some kind of mistake. This was before I had ever practiced shielding.

I used to have such a problem with picking up other people's energy that going out in public was hellishly draining. I went to a "woman's healing" group for survivors of sexual abuse and one of the things they taught us was how to not pick up other people's burdens. They emphasized that we couldn't help others by taking on their pain. Instead, they said that we should put up shields and if we wanted to help someone and that person wanted our help, act as a facilitator to let 'God' take their burden. I felt such a huge difference when I began to shield against the randomly broadcast emotions of others: I could go out in public without coming home feeling raw and wretched. Also, when I practiced being a funnel for Godde's love I could help others without making myself useless for days. Later (last year) I took a class on energy work and they said the same things in different words, affirming my experience.

I almost always do energy gifting/blessing as a funnel from the universe or from the person's own deity if they have one who wants to give to them at the time. When I do energy work on people, it's mostly me sensing where something has attached to their energy that is hurting/blocking them or sensing where they feel a lack, and then pulling out what doesn't belong or calling for what they need and sending it in. All of this is happening not with my eyes but with my hands - sort of. I use gestures because that helps me to focus my intention, but I don't often have a physical sensation in my hands unless the issue is something malignant or physical. I feel safe just feeling around and going by intuition because I don't think people can be damaged from energy work as long as the worker isn't trying to assert their own will.*

I consider it a very bad idea to try and give away my own energy. I consider doing that to be damaging myself and probably influencing the other person in ways I can't fathom. One of my early healing processes was pulling back the pieces of myself that had been given away or stolen by others, and it astonished me how much more control I had over my own thoughts and feelings without these constant influences from others. Considering this, I feel that it would be unethical of me to accept other people's energy if I feel that them giving it would damage them. So, if someone uses a method of energy work or prayer that involves them giving a piece of themselves, I am not okay with them doing energy work on my behalf.

Also, if someone wants something from me that I'm not wanting to give right now, I am not okay with them doing ANY kind of energy work or prayer on/about me, because I feel it's very likely that they'd end up subconsciously trying to manipulate me. I don't think it would work because I shield from that, but it would take energy from me to push that away. I got a birthday card from a relative once that seemed harmless enough, but just touching it made me feel terrible, and I think it's because they were trying to pray the gay away.

*I do my best to only do energy work that is NOT manipulative. What this means in practice is that I won't do energy work or prayer that involves choosing a particular path to a goal or anything that involves pushing someone toward a specific choice. For example, I consider it okay to do a spell for getting closer friends, but not okay to do a spell for a particular person to become a close friend. It's okay to do a spell for my work to be noticed, but not to do a spell for my boss to think that I am smart. I will do spells for anything that could happen by chance. I will not do spells that push on someone's will. I feel that a lot of magic is about chance, randomness, so I will always be vague enough that there are at LEAST three ways a 'yes' could happen.


Recently I asked who would want to be a name in a jar for me to occasionally send energy to, but I didn't explain. Here's how that would work:

I would sit in my sanctuary and pull a circle from the jar, read the name aloud a number of times while picturing the person, and then I would reflect on what I know about them and 'ask' what they need (or go check my list to see what they had said was okay to send to them). Whatever came to mind, I would envision coming their way. So, if I got the sense that they needed rest, I would picture them sighing in relief and relaxation and I would come up with a short phrase to repeat over and over while thinking about them, something like "all chances for rest are extra nourishing." (I would NOT say something like "plenty of sleep and plenty of down time" because that might be the opposite of what they need!) I'd then open up my crown and pull in energy from the universe which I would envision flowing into me, out of my hands, to them. I'd do this until I felt done.

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belenen: (woven souls)
essential qualities to be a good cuddler: good at consent, emotionally present & aware, not in need

icon: "woven souls (a photo of me and Hannah laying nude on black fabric, holding hands and facing each other with legs intertwined at the knee. the photo is overlaid with a scarlet and violet color filter)"

The qualities that are most vital are being good at consent, being good at staying emotionally present, and not radiating need. Consent is vital because any touch needs to be consensual and a cuddler needs to know how to navigate that and give someone safety. Being emotionally present and aware is necessary because that is the building block for being able to give cuddles that are emotionally nourishing as well as physically pleasant. Not being full of need is necessary because even if you are otherwise perfect, if you have great need you may unintentionally drain people with your presence unless they know how to guard against that, or you are amazingly good at putting it in a box for a time. (for people who are full of need, guess what would be great for them? a professional cuddler!)

1) A cuddler needs to be good at consent: good at noticing non-verbal "no"s and asking clarifying, specific questions such as, "is there any part of your body that you would like me to avoid touching? Is there any particular kind of touch that you do not like?" and things like "would you like to be spooned? would you like me to stroke your arms? do you want me to play with your hair?"
2) A cuddler needs to not be touch-starved or affection-hungry. If they go into a session without their own tanks full, it is quite possible that their touch will drain the client rather than nourish them.
3) A cuddler needs to be good at boundaries. They need to be able to state their own comfort level and to be willing and able to say no and perhaps end the session if the client is not listening to those statements and honoring them.
4) A cuddler needs to have calm, settled energy about them, so that the cuddles they give will be relaxing and they won't transfer any stress to the client.
5) A cuddler needs to be comfortable with other people's emotions, able to listen, care, and hold space without getting swept along.
6) A (professional) cuddler needs to be good at separating sexual touch from affectionate touch, so that they can both offer touch with no sexual energy and they can read when a client is not being platonic and set boundaries accordingly.
7) A cuddler needs to be good at paying attention and good at reading people's reactions, so that they can tell how to adjust their touch according to what would be the most nourishing for the client.
8) A cuddler needs to be very comfortable with cuddling, so that they don't feel self-conscious and make their client feel awkward and uncomfortable about receiving their touch. They need to have a level of confidence and willingness to change something that is not working for the client.

Only the last one is really about physical aspects. The rest is all mental! Not all of it is stuff you can control -- obviously people don't have a lot of control over how much they need or how calm they are or even how emotionally present they are (some disabilities can break you out of being present no matter how hard you try). Some of this is skill, and some of it is just qualities that you might have or you might not, and some is a combination.

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belenen: (pain)
TW: suicide, MH ableism - long conversation about suicide w Matt
In response to this post which I linked on facebook.

Allison Preach.
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Maureen And don't say it's "a permanent solution to a temporary problem." Some people's severe depression has lasted decades.
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Matt Wow, I've never disagreed with you so strongly on any issue before. It's also completely against public health standards for how to talk about suicide.
Belenen This is not at all the same thing. I'm not implying suicide is good, I'm saying that scolding people is bad.
Matt I read your LiveJournal post. There is never a point at which I would tell someone that if that's their decision, I'm just going to be okay with it and say goodbye. I don't believe that's right at all.
Belenen Well, that's you. If I was suicidal, such an act of kindness and respect would be far better for me than anything else. If someone decided to tell me not to do it or pep-talk me out of it that would make me want to do it WAY more because they'd be proving that the world is a selfish place that does not care about my feelings.
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Matt I don't think it's in any way selfish to try to stop someone from ending their life.
Matt And I don't see letting it happen as an act of kindness and respect at all.
Belenen So, don't tell me not to do it unless you want to push me closer. And I'm pretty sure that is true for a lot of people. Empathy is ALWAYS a better choice than scolding, bossing, and using platitudes.
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Matt I wouldn't scold or boss you or use platitudes. But I'd use all the tools I know of that might actually WORK to get you to stop. I don't believe it's ever okay to just let it happen.
Belenen I believe people have the right to their own bodies and deciding their own destiny. I will respect other people's choices even unto death, and I want that for me as well.
Matt I think that suicide is rarely, if ever, a "decision" that one makes if their full mental faculties are available to them at the time. I basically see it as a consent issue. Can you really consent to end your own life? I have very serious doubts about that.
Belenen I don't think people lose the rights to handle their own bodies because they might have impaired judgement. Yes, I absolutely can consent to end my life, because my consent is all that Matters! It's MY body, I decide whether or not I will continue to inhabit it.
H. D. I view suicidal ideation as a kind of stockholm syndrome of your own brain. It's one of the very very few instances (maybe only) in which I do think that helping someone could very well be doing the things they don't want. I would always do it compassionately, but I can't let someone I love hurt themselves because their brain is tricking them into hating themselves and their existence. I hope you know I don't take that attitude lightly, because I really highly value respecting people's autonomy.
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Matt When I was 19 years old, I had a good friend try to commit suicide while she was on the phone long distance with me. She was in Colorado and I was in Vermont. It was about 2 am and I had to call her mother, who had never spoken to me (or probably even heard of me) before, to wake her up and get her out of bed to take my friend to the hospital to get her stomach pumped to get rid of whatever she tried to OD on. I will never regret that decision, especially since we're still friends seventeen years later, she's now happily married, and has three awesome children.
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Belenen The point I am making is that you are not "letting" them do anything because it is not your choice.
Belenen Getting help for someone in crisis, if you have asked if it is okay to do so, is fine by me. Doing it against their will is a violation. It may be a violation you are okay with because you view the alternative as worse, but that doesn't make it right.
Matt I wouldn't use the term "Stockholm Syndrome" like Heather did, but I basically don't think that people who are pondering suicide are in full control of their own decision making abilities anymore. Mental illness is a disease. Would you let someone with paranoid schizophrenia injure themselves because they think the government implanted them with a tracking device, for example? I hope not, and I doubt you would. This is essentially the same thing. You're not in control of yourself if you're seriously contemplating suicide. You aren't making that decision with full access to your own brain. Therefore you can't give informed consent.
Matt If someone chooses to let me know they're thinking of suicide, they're giving me the option of getting them help, whether they claim to want it or not. I definitely do not see it as a violation, and even if it WAS one, it's a good one, because this is not a case of asserting your will, it's a case of a disease altering your will without your consent.
Belenen No. NO. People can sometimes impulsively commit suicide, but they can also do it with complete awareness. I CAN give informed consent to do any damn thing I want to my body because it is MINE and it never becomes someone elses. YES people CAN use their self-aware will to commit suicide.
Matt If someone is having suicidal thoughts and they let me know about it, they've given up some degree of control of the situation already. Once they do that, I'm going to make every effort to get them help, whether they think they want it or not.
Belenen That makes me feel incredibly unsafe around you. At any point if I seem suicidal to you you can just take actions I don't want? Not okay!
Matt I'm not setting up a dichotomy between impulsive or planned here because that's a false dichotomy. Most suicides are planned. It's rare for them to be a spur of the moment decision. I wonder how much actual knowledge you have of this issue. Whether or not you're committing suicide with "awareness," you're still not doing it with your full mental faculties intact, because depression or any mental illness alters your perception of life. It actually changes your brain in ways that can be viewed and studied.
Matt Of course I can. And I will, if I'm aware of it. As would pretty much anyone and everyone you know. Whether you think it's okay or not, people with clinical experience on this issue would vehemently disagree with you. It is never okay to just accept it when someone says they want to commit suicide.
Matt The ONE exception I can see in all this is when someone is terminally ill anyway and wants to end their life by physician assisted suicide. But that's a whole different kettle of worms that I'm not really prepared to go into right now.
Belenen my knowledge is firsthand. And I do not fucking care what the brain looks like. An altered perception does not give someone else the right to make decisions for my body, ever, and I don't give a flaming shit if people with 'clinical experience' would disagree.
Matt Should I have let my friend kill herself at 19 years old just because she wanted to and she made the decision to do it? I certainly will never be convinced that's the case.
Matt James, I would never let a mental illness influence you to take your own life if I became aware you wanted to do so. And that's because I care about you. I make no apology for that. I do not believe you can give informed consent to end your own life if you are depressed because the depression is actually stealing your ability to make healthy, informed decisions for yourself if it comes to that point.
Belenen Not your body, not your choice. This is so horrifying to me. I can't deal with you saying you would violate my consent because you thought you knew better than me how I should handle my life. I don't want you to know about my life anymore. I feel like I have to police myself so that I don't sound suicidal to you. Please unfollow me.
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Matt That is my position and I'm sticking to it. I think you'll find many of your friends will agree with me, or at least I hope so. James, I really like you, so I'm going to disengage from this conversation, but I hope you'll think about what I said, and maybe actually look into some academic/clinical research on clinical depression, its affects on the brain, and the treatment of suicidal ideation, because everything you're saying goes against established knowledge and practice on the issue.

The last thing I'll say is that it makes ME feel unsafe that you would apparently not try to help me if I said I was suicidal and managed to convince you that I meant it. Because sharing that kind of information with someone is basically always a cry for help, whether a person realizes it at the time or not. And apparently, you would be unwilling or unable to help me unless I was able to express in the moment that I needed it, which I would not likely be able to do at that point if was suicidal.
Matt Oh, actually, one last thing, you've thus far refused to address whether or not I should have let my friend OD on prescription pills when she was on the phone with me when I was 19 years old. Please think about that.
Belenen I have not refused to address it. UGH. I said you cannot "LET" them because it is not your authority! And I said that you might consider it a necessary evil but that doesn't make it less evil. If my friend had taken a shitton of pills and was ODing, I would ask, and beg, to fetch help, but if they said no, I would not do it. If I was overcome with emotion, I might do it, but I would consider that a terrible violation and I would be extremely remorseful.

I have plenty of friends who have been suicidal who feel the same way I do, so stop trying to bring my friends into it -- they're not on your side. I've been there for people who were suicidal, and they didn't choose to do it despite my not telling them what to do or calling in authorities -- and if they HAD chosen to do that it would have been THEIR choice alone. I do not give a SHIT about "established practice" for crying out loud we're barely past locking people up for mental illness. Just because it maintains social values doesn't make it good practice.
Belenen I don't want to block you, because I would like to maintain incidental contact, but I do not feel safe with you watching what I have to say, so please unfollow me so that I don't feel the need to block you.
Topaz It is possible for someone to tell another person "I am going to kill myself" for reasons other than to roundabout ask for your help. Some people have severe, incurable mental illness, that CAN NOT be treated. It's more rare than treatable or manageable mental illness, sure, but it definitely exists. I don't want anyone I know to kill themselves, ever. But I'd rather my friends be honest with me if they planned on it, so I'd have a chance to say goodbye, maybe ask why, and get closure, and tell them I loved them. Maybe, if they trusted me to not stop them, and they told me, and I responded by saying I loved them.. maybe that love and respect would be enough for them to not want to die. Unfortunately, most people don't trust others to respect them, so they don't tell, and they kill themselves without telling anyone before.

I'm sorry that one of your friends tried to commit suicide when you were 19, and I'm happy for you that you feel you made the right decision. I don't know if your friend gave you consent or not to help her, but I can image that if your friend died, you would feel a lot of guilt. So for your situation, you made the right choice for you. I've had 5 people in my life commit suicide in the past 7 years. The most recent was last week. A dear friend hung themselves with no warning to friends or family. I wish he had the strength to ask for help, I miss him.

The one before that, I had a dear friend move out of the state and put a gun in his mouth within weeks. And you know what? I think this friend's suicide was the most caring, brave thing he could've done. You see, for his entire life, he fought the most horrific depression I've ever seen. At 15 he sought help, and he continued for 10 years. He tried every single therapy, medicine, counseling and method to try and get better, For 10 years, he fought. He attempted suicide more than 5 times in those 10 years. He tried overdosing on heroin, but a cop found him and called 911. He tried cutting himself, but his mom found him. He tried everything to die, and someone always stopped him. Each time, he'd try to get help, sincerely. After going through all the medicines, he eventually was left with shock therapy as his final medical option. He tried it, and it had adverse effects, sending him spiraling into such a mad, horrible depression that he was in pain constantly. It was like watching an animal flail in pain after getting run over. All of his friends watched as he flailed in immense pain for ten years. Most people can find a drug or medicine or therapy that AT LEAST minimizes or helps manage their pain. My friend couldn't. When he killed himself, we all felt a sadness for our loss, and a sigh of relief for his peace. He finally stopped suffering.

None of my friends who successfully died have told someone when they planned to commit suicide. Maybe if people weren't scared to talk about it, out of fear they would be forced against their will to "get help," then people would actually talk about it, weigh options, and make informed choices. I will talk, and hug, and help to the extent someone gives me permission, and I may even be bad and try to talk them into (logically) getting help. But I will never go against the will of someone I love. In my PTSD and depression, if anyone had ever FORCED me to get help, I'd be worse off and maybe dead. Since I was respected, I've healed some and am doing fine. Offering is one thing, forcing without consent is another.

Finally, I've had quite a few other friends who confided in me that they wanted to kill themselves. I told them that, because I was selfish, I didn't want to lose them, but I also told them that if that was ever their sure choice, to please let me know so I could give them one last hug. All have agreed, none have killed themselves. I also have taken friends to mental hospitals for them to get help for their depression or suicidal thoughts, with their consent, and only at their request.

So, my firsthand knowledge dealing with 5 suicides and at least a dozen people who have been or are suicidal, doesn't fit with what you say experts believe. Trust me, I've heard what experts have to say.

I'd love to help my friends get help, if they want it or are willing.
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Matt If they confide in me that they're feeling that way, and I choose not to act, that is letting it happen. I consider that unethical and probably immoral. I'm really not interested in whether someone "wants" help when they're mentally ill. I'm going to get it for them whether they "want" it or not because they're not capable of making those decisions for themselves at that point. You CANNOT CONSENT when you are under the influence of mental illness. It's simply not possible.

I would imagine plenty of your friends are on "my side," as if there is really any such thing. I'm on the "side" of good mental health practice. We're talking about disease here, not making decisions when you're fully in possession of your faculties. It's two different things. We might be "barely past locking people up for mental illness," but we ARE past it, and if we have to wait a minimum amount of time before doing the right thing because we used to do the wrong thing, a lot of people are going to get hurt needlessly. It's got nothing to do with maintaining "social values." It has to do with treating people so they can overcome illness, which can't happen if they end their lives.

I'm not "following" you. We friended each other on here. I'm not interested in unfriending you, because I'm hoping we can continue to talk about this after we've both been able to take some time out to consider what's been said. But if you insist on not talking with anymore, go ahead and unfriend me. I won't "follow" you or bother you if you unfriend me, so you don't need to block me. But I would respectfully ask you to hold off on doing that, because I value your opinions on the issues we both care about. We disagree on this one, but I think we can still engage thoughtfully and constructively on it, or at least I hope so.
Belenen I don't want to hear any more from you on this topic Matt, you're making me feel incredibly depressed and unsafe, please STOP
Belenen by follow I mean the facebook follow where it shows you what I post
Belenen if I unfriend you it doesn't make you unfollow me because all my stuff is public
Matt I know what you meant. We're Facebook friends. I didn't just click "follow" on your profile. I said my position on unfriending you above. If you're determined not to interact with me, though, you can go ahead and unfriend me. But I hope you won't do that.
Matt If you unfriend me, I would have to hit "follow" on your profile to continue seeing your posts, which I wouldn't do. I'm not interested in bothering you, James, but I'm not interested in taking the active role of unfriending you, either. You'll need to be the one to do that if you feel the need to do so. If you do unfriend me, and I do continue to see your posts, I'll go ahead and "unfollow," but I don't think it works like that. But again, I hope you'll hold off, because I do enjoy talking to you and I consider you a friend. I just don't think you have the greatest take on this particular issue.
Anna What I find selfish is trying to make someone choose life when they don't want to. What one may think is a cry for help isn't always. I despise debating so I will not go back and forth on this.
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Lily You know how you like to be treated, you know what makes you feel loved. It sounds like consent is a higher value to you than it might be to some people (not to say they don't value consent but perhaps it's higher on the list for you compared to values such as, say, staying alive). Which is cool, that's your values. It sounds like you want people to honour your agency to make decisions about your own life, and death, to the end. And to have people hear this and know this about you and dishonour that when you were in a suicidal space would not feel like a loving act.

We all seem to have different needs around this. It's so hard not knowing anyone else's. It would be nice if we could make up some kind of suicide will about what we consent to and what we do not in that event. For example, despite the fact that it is common procedure, I do not give prior consent to be hospitalized or to have other people notified about my state. I know that would not be helpful to me and I want others to know that. And yet, this is what people assume is the proper thing to do but they cannot know my life and how unhelpful that could be... However, I do give prior consent to use loving coersion (not hospitalization or notification) if I am in a place where it looks like I may hurt myself, because I know from having been there that, for me, this is actually what I need in the moment and I do *not* have agency over myself when I am considering acting on such things. I think we both know ourselves here.

So how do we deal with the vast majority of circumstances where we just don't know? And then getting it wrong? Like, ideally ask all our friends for prior consent about how to handle these situations? I don't have an easy answer... when I was with someone who was acutely suicidal and had taken pills I didn't decide anything, I just went straight to my heart and completely let my intuition guide me. I let whatever came out of me that needed to come out of me in that moment. And... what needed to come out, actually, wasn't coercive, and she ended up throwing up the pills...
Belenen If it is loving and respectful, it's not coercion. Talking people down is okay, as long as they consent to listen.

(Apparently Matt is not good at consent in general, because after I finally unfriended zir, ze followed me, and then stayed in the conversation 'liking' things. That is NOT what I asked for and not what ze said ze would do.)

Death is a basic human right. To live or not to live should ALWAYS be the choice of the person (unless they are taking up residence in someone else's body).

If you would feel okay calling some authority because I seemed suicidal, unfriend me, and leave me alone. I'm not okay with people taking control of my body and mind just because they think I'm 'disturbed.' Violating my consent is NOT the way to convince me that the world is worth living in. Thank Godde for Topaz in this conversation -- my hands were going cold and numb and I was shaking, and I read zir comment and it helped.

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belenen: (passionate)
non-consensual expectations in relationships are not okay - ASK FIRST. Friendships, family, romance!
Do not assume that "everyone knows" that this is the "right way" to show love. NO. Some people believe giving space is the kindest thing to do, but for other people that can feel like abandonment. Some people believe that talking it out immediately is the most loving act, whereas for people who need silence in order to figure out their feelings, that can shatter their thoughts and harm their ability to communicate. Some people believe that cleaning for someone else is a kind act of love, but for others that can feel like a violation of their space and an insult to the way they manage their things. It is NEVER APPROPRIATE TO ASSUME that a person knows the way you want to be loved, or that they can in fact do the thing that will make you feel loved. Or vice versa -- you cannot assume that you know the right way to love someone else. This includes everything everything everything (except abuse).

I'm gonna quote myself with some bits added:
We can't pre-negotiate all our expectations (because most of them are subconscious!), but we can recognize when we have an expectation that has not been agreed on and then negotiate it without resentment for past lack-of-meeting that expectation. That means when your feelings are hurt by them acting in a way other than what you expected, asking yourself, "did this person agree to act this way for me?" and if the answer is no, saying to your person, "this is a thing I want in relationships. Are you comfortable with me relying on you to do this thing, and expecting it?" if they say yes, fantastic! then you discuss what that looks like and how you can both make sure it happens, and what to do if it doesn't. If they say "no," you need to examine within yourself and decide if that is something you can be okay without in that relationship. If it is, adjust your feelings, and perhaps look for that need to be met elsewhere. If it is not, you need to end the relationship*. Plain and fucking simple. It is NOT appropriate to stay in the relationship and hope that they will change their mind or start doing that thing you want or become okay with aspects of you that they currently judge -- that is disrespectful and pressuring at best, and it blocks off both people from potential healthy positive relationships.

In short, if you want to expect something, ask if it is okay for you to expect it. Otherwise don't expect it! To expect something without checking if it is okay is not consensual and can even be coercive.

I have this problem too, and if I ever get upset at you specifically about something that you didn't consent for me to expect, just point it out to me and I will check myself. If I do it, that doesn't mean I think it is appropriate! it just means that this thought pattern has a hold on me as well.
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belenen: (progressing)
for assertive/exuberant/forceful people: some notes on avoiding accidental coercion/pressuring
If you have a forceful personality (like me), tend to get very exuberant about things you want, and/or get very down about your disappointments, it can be difficult to keep these tendencies from running over other people's needs, especially if those people are invested in your happiness. Note: if you tend to get your way without negotiating, or if you ever assume that someone should do something that you want, you may be running over other people's needs. My examples are sex but this applies to all interactions; stuff like going to an event, making a shift in your relationship, etc.

My number one suggestion is, if it is something you really want, make a mental habit to double-check when you get your way. This can happen first in your head -- yay they said yes! this means time to double-check. Do they seem as excited as I am about it? If yes, great, move forward! If they are ANY less excited than me, look at how I asked*, look at their body language, look at their phrasing. If it all matches up with go-time**, move forward. If not, open up the chance for them to decline*** by saying something like "you seem a little hesitant, is there something else you want to do right now?" or "what are you feeling?" or even "are you sure? we could always do [alternate choice]!" (that last one you need to say with happiness for it to be useful). If you discuss it and don't end up feeling like they are sure they want it, don't do it. Better to avoid an experience that turns out to be unwanted, even if that sometimes means you mistakenly miss out on an experience that was wanted.

And, frankly, better to only do things when people clearly state that they want it than to have murky communication as the default mode. I know some people would not be able to have sex in this case, but it's not your job to make sure other people have sex, it's your job to make sure you never violate someone's boundaries. If someone wants to have sex but is hesitant about the kind/boundaries/etc, that can be negotiated, but if you want to make sure you don't violate them, you can't have sex with them if they are unsure that they want it to begin with.

*did you ask with an easy way for them to decline? For example, did you say "can we get sexy?/ will you go to this party with me?" or "I'd love to have sex with you tonight / I'd love if you came to this party." The first is a yes/no and it is REALLY hard for many people to give a flat no. So anything that is not a yes or other excited affirmative, treat it as a no. The second is better, in my experience, because people can share their own feelings in return, instead of being pushed into having to do it or say no. Sideways-no is much easier for most people to say.

**go-time body language and phrasing differs for everyone, but some things that in my experience are clear signs of reluctance (thus NOT go-time) are closed-off body (arms or legs crossed, leaning away, toes or shoulders or face pointed away from you, physical barriers like knees or pillows in the way, not making eye contact) or answers like "okay" or "sure" instead of yes/yeah. If you're not good at noting body language, practice and double-check with words, or just use words.

***the more chances you give someone to decline, the more sure you can be that they want what you want.

More in-depth explanation on how to be careful with sexual consent specifically.

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belenen: (voltaic)
how to be careful with consent: a step-by-step guide to reduce risk of coercion or violation
These things are not all necessary for consent with all people; however, if you want to make sure that you don't accidentally coerce or violate someone, these are good ways to avoid that. In all cases, discussing specifics with the person about the instance you're in is the best method. If they are comfortable giving blanket permissions, you can act on those, but understand that you MAY be risking an incomplete consent, because no one can predict themselves perfectly. If they don't specifically say "you can do this at any time" do NOT assume that a yes once is a yes at ANY point after that.

These steps are assuming that you're not a rapist and therefore would never deliberately push sex on someone regardless of their will, through drugging, physical force, threat, or power (such as an adult over a child or a boss over an employee). Those are not mistakes, those are crimes.

Step 1a: the STI, birth control, protection, and trauma conversation. Before starting sexual contact, if you want to have full consent you need to do these things:
  • a) disclose your known STI status AND your risk factors (unprotected sex? sex with people whose status is positive or unknown?), and ask about theirs. If you are not okay with taking the risk or vice versa, don't have sex with them.
  • b) if relevant, discuss what birth control measures are being taken and what to do in event of unplanned pregnancy or barrier-method fail. If you're not okay with how they'd respond to those things or vice versa, don't have sex with them.
  • c) ask what methods of protection they want, tell what you want, and then go with whichever is more cautious. If you're not okay with how much protection they want or vice versa, don't have sex with them.
  • d) ask about any trigger behaviors you should avoid, and disclose your own if you have them. Such a huge number of people have been sexually abused that you need to assume that anyone you have sex with may have triggers; if you don't want to give someone a PTSD flashback, ASK FIRST. If relevant to one or both of you, discuss carefully. If you still feel too scared of triggering them, don't have sex with them.
This first step is why I don't often have sex with strangers any more: having this conversation is difficult with strangers since it involves a lot of trust. If I do, it's low-physical-risk sex, like fully-clothed grinding or energy exchange. So far I have not been very careful about asking about triggers and have been lucky, but that is something I am going to be much more careful about now that I have considered the possible consequences.

Step 1b: disclose any other information that you think they might want, given what you know of them. If they only have sex in the context of a committed relationship, and you're not committed to them, make sure they know that. If they're monogamous and you're poly, make sure they know that. If you only have sex with the same sex in a casual way that can never get serious and they aren't the same, make sure they know that. Deliberately having sex with someone when you KNOW they would NOT do it if they had relevant information is coercion, not consensual sex. If you hold back info you think they want in order to have sex with them, that's manipulative and coercive at best.

Step 2: ask about the specific occasion BEFORE starting sexual contact, without pressure in your language, attitude, or behavior. Asking a yes or no question in a culture where saying no to sex is taboo is NOT a no-pressure way of asking. A better way of asking is an open-ended question like, "I want to have sex with you right now. How do you feel about that?" Then,
  • a) if they express that they do not want to have sex, ask for a time frame -- not now, not tonight, not ever? You don't want to ask again if they know they won't want to do it tonight or ever. Responses like "I don't feel very good" or "I'm really tired" or "I'm drunk" mean, at the very least, not now, and should be treated like a no -- ask for time frame and wait that long before asking again. DO NOT POUT: do not complain or whine or express upsetness: you NEVER have a right to expect a yes. If you can't avoid showing disappointment, ask for some time to compose yourself and go away until you can be happy to share non-sexual time. To make them deal with your negative emotional reaction to a "no" is pressure, both now and in the future. If they know they're going to have to deal with your crankiness or whinyness if they say no, they can't say a completely uncoerced yes.
  • b) if they give a non-committal answer like "I don't know" or "I'm not sure," ask for clarification. Ask questions like, "Is there something you would rather be doing right now?" (if the answer is yes, do that before asking again or don't have sex.) or "what is your emotional response to my desire?" If they continue with non-committal answers or look uncomfortable/distant, that means no -- don't continue asking for sex. For me, at that point my sexual desire is gone, so I might say something like, "I no longer want to have sex but I very much want to understand your feelings and thoughts right now."
  • c) if they express a clear desire to have sex, move to step 3!

Step 3: do not assume that any particular sex act or response will happen, including but not limited to:
  • a) penetration of any kind (some people don't want or can't handle penetration every time)
  • b) genital touch of any kind (some people don't want or can't handle genital touch every time)
  • c) orgasm or climax of any kind (some people don't want or can't have orgasms every time)
  • d) roleplay of any kind (including feminine/masculine, dominant/submissive, initiator/responder, etc! these must be discussed to be consensual)
  • e) pain or sensation of any kind (some people may not be comfortable with the kind of sensation you want in sex, or don't want it this time)
If you feel a need for one or more of those things in order to enjoy sex, discuss it with the person BEFORE touching them sexually, and if you cannot feel comfortable not having something that they don't want, do not have sex with them. If you do, you risk pressuring them into doing things they don't want to.

Step 4: agree on safe words/signals
  • a) there should be a word or signal that means "stop all things immediately, for a significant period of time, possibly ending the sex"
  • b) if using bondage, there should be a word or signal that means "loose the bonds immediately"
  • c) it's also useful to have a word/signal that means, "stop everything for a little while" and another that means "resume" I use the words 'pause' and 'unpause' -- this keeps me from getting overstimulated and going numb.
  • d) it can be useful to have a word/signal that means "try something else" -- I prefer to be specific about what else, but I know people who like the indirect method better.

Step 5: check for sensitivities when touching and ask before penetration
  • a) when touching anywhere you think might be especially sensitive (like nipples or genitals), pay attention. If you are sighted, you can do this by watching their body language -- ease towards their sensitive places and if they look uncomfortable, take that as a not yet, or if you'd rather not risk doing something that will feel bad, ASK FIRST. I always ask, either with words or by reaching for a spot, pausing with my hand near it, looking at them and continuing only if they nod. If they don't respond at all, that is a NO, and I do other things instead and then ask with words if I want to go to that spot. Be gradual in intensity or ask how intense they want it. I once was making out with someone who reached up and pinched my nipple so hard I thought it was a bee sting at first -- NOT OKAY, EVER. If you know they like super-hard pinches, that's different -- do not assume that you can guess the level of intensity they would like.
  • b) when you want to penetrate them with fingers, you can ask with words or (IF you already got a yes for touching the area) lay your hand on the opening of the place you want to penetrate and wait for a response. Usually what happens for me at this point is that the person asks for penetration or does not respond. No response means NO, move on, then ask with words later if you still want to. If you want to penetrate with more than one finger, ask with words; more is NOT better for everyone.
  • c) when you want to penetrate them with your penis, if you have agreed on barrier methods for penetration but not other sex acts, ask if they want penetration before putting the condom on; putting the condom on in that situation communicates an expectation of penetration which will be louder than any question that follows. When you ask, be specific: WHERE are you wanting to penetrate? Don't assume that penetration means penis-in-vagina to them just because they have a front orifice. Or that it means penis-in-anus just because they don't. If you have an agreement to not use barriers, you can try the "pausing outside the opening and waiting for a response" method and remember -- no response means NO. You can do other things and ask with words about penetration later.
  • d) if you want to be penetrated by them, all the same requirements apply -- do NOT put their parts (including their toys or prosthetics) inside you without asking, or put a condom on them without asking.
  • e) when you want to penetrate them with an object, ask first and ask specifically: "I want to put [object] in your [place] -- how do you feel about that idea?"
  • f) Do not take a yes for one kind of penetration as a yes for any other kind, ever.
  • g) with any kind of penetration, if they look uncomfortable and say non-committal things when you ask about penetration, drop the subject and if you still want to, talk about it when you are not in a sexual situation.

Something that makes consent easier is picking only highly-communicative partners who are good at stating their own boundaries. It's your responsibility to keep from violating or coercing them; if they are willing to help you that makes things much easier. If someone doesn't want to talk about sex or doesn't know their own boundaries, don't have sex with them because you will probably make a big mistake and hurt them, and yes, that will be YOUR FAULT because it is YOUR responsibility to keep from hurting others.

EVEN IF you follow ALL of these steps, you may STILL accidentally coerce or violate someone. We live in a rape culture that makes it very difficult for us to understand consent, to respect our own boundaries and the boundaries of others; so sex is dangerous. We need to go in knowing we can hurt each other, and being careful to minimize that risk.

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belenen: (analytical)
on consent in expectations and investment thinking.
I believe in consensual expectations, and in avoiding assumptive (non-consensual) expectations. I do not expect anyone to do X with/for me: UNLESS we've made specific agreements for that. I might still be sad if something I want doesn't happen, but I react to that with talking about it to figure out if I need to adjust my hopes, or if there is some barrier that can be removed.

Here's an example. Kylei and I talk daily, and I'm used to this. If all of a sudden Kylei stopped seeking me out to talk, I would be surprised and worried and probably lonely, but I would not be angry or hurt. I would go to Kylei and say, "I feel like you've stopped reaching out to me because of x, y, z, and I'm sad about it. What's going on? is this intentional? what can we do about it?" However, if Kyle and I had made an agreement that we would talk every day and then it didn't happen, I would feel hurt and angry because I would feel lied to. I would go to Kyle and say, "I am very upset that you didn't do this thing you agreed to do. I feel lied to. What happened?" and then after the hurt feelings were dealt with we would discuss a way of changing the agreement to make it more likely to be kept.

Because I know that broken expectations hurt me and cause difficult conflict, I rarely make them. I prefer to have well-adjusted hopes, and have expectations only with regards to growth-plans. I can tell the difference between the two because with an unfulfilled hope, I feel disappointed by the situation. With an unfulfilled expectation, I feel wounded by the person who didn't do what I expected.

My baseline expectation for my friends is that they will not deliberately hurt me: and unless I've communicated that something will hurt me or it is something that would hurt the least-sensitive person I know, I do not call it deliberate. I consider myself to be in a constant state of teaching people about my sensitive spots: we're all different and predicting rather than asking is an easy path to harm. I hope people will also patiently teach me about their spots and assume that I'm doing my best with the information I have.

This also has to do with me answering "maybe" to all invitations unless I am SURE I can go. I see a "yes" as me allowing them to create an expectation, which I then need to uphold in order to avoid hurting them (although sometimes I fail at that). Although the reverse is not true: it was, until I learned that most people do not say "yes" in the same way, and in order to avoid being hurt I changed that expectation-habit into a hope.

One of my friends recently posted on the subject of expectations and how having a "people should always do X for people they care about" attitude is problematic. First, people do not all have an equal amount of resources, and you can't tell from the outside how much a person has to spare. What would be easy for you could actually be incredibly damaging for someone else. Additionally, if you're comparing how much you've given to how much you're expecting, you're using investment thinking: you're not giving freely but are investing for future returns. My way of avoiding this is to ask myself: "if I never get anything back, am I still content to do this?" and if the answer is no, I won't do it. People sometimes get upset with me about this, but I prefer that to me feeling stolen from. If I want to maintain my boundaries and not make non-consensual expectations, I need to make sure I am not giving more than I can afford to give: making a giant gift that I will then suffer for if it is not returned is irresponsible self-care.

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belenen: (nascent)
house agreements for Freeflow! and Wishwood!
House Agreements
(We accept that this is a set of intentions: we expect failure, but we also expect genuine effort.)

1) We practice body acceptance:
  • This means that clothing is optional so if you want people to be clothed, ask ahead of time (and you may get a "no"). It also means that negative body comments will be corrected; you are perfect the way you are and so is everyone else.

2) We practice sharing:
  • We want you to feel at home while you are here. Most things on the main level are for sharing; if something is a one-time-use item (like food or paper) then get permission before using.  If you use something, put it back in the same condition when you're done.

3) We practice eliminating stereotypes:
  • We expect everyone to make mistakes and take them as an opportunity to learn rather than a slight on their character.
  • Guests and residents are expected to be prepared and willing to be made aware of their privilege/prejudice.  EVERYONE has privilege/ignorance/prejudice they need to work on.
  • If you hear something that is exclusionary, prejudiced, or ignorant, please speak up if you can and point it out.  If you can't, please talk to a resident about it and we'll try to address the issue.

4) We practice maintaining safe space:
  • Intentionally prejudiced or violent language/behavior is not allowed, whether serious or as a "joke."  This means threats of violence are not okay ("joking" or not), saying things to make people feel excluded or inferior (on purpose) is not okay, hitting or threatening to hit is not okay, yelling at people is not okay, calling names is not okay, making "jokes" that rely on the 'inferiority' of a group/person are not okay, rape "jokes" (including rape as slang for mild suffering) are not okay. 
  • You're not expected to remember this list but you are expected to stop immediately if someone calls you on breaking safe space. (arguing that this language/behavior is acceptable is also breaking safe space). If you are not willing to do that, you are not welcome here.

5) We practice resolving upsetness:
  • if something upsets you, assume good intentions and share your feelings without judging or blaming. If someone is upset by you, empathize and explain before problem-solving.

6) We practice being honest and open:
  • we are not here to avoid conflict but to make conflict creative. If you are feeling or thinking something upsetting, please try to express it kindly and frankly.

7) We practice comforting each other:
  • If someone says "I'm hurt," all of the willing & able people are encouraged to offer a group hug, throw kisses, or otherwise express care. This includes expressing care to a person who feels hurt by being called out on their stereotyping or unsafe behavior; however it is not a substitute for discussion, nor are people obligated to give comfort.

8) We practice radical consent in cuddles and sex:
  • all people involved are both desiring AND consciously choosing to share touch.  Ask first! get a definite yes (either verbally or non-verbally) before continuing. Before beginning genital or other overtly sexual touch, either get consent of others in the room or move to a more private space.

9) We practice consent for sharing space:
  • Before inviting people over, discuss it with the people who live in that space! Guests, ask a resident, and make sure your invitees are aware of the house agreements. Residents, tell the residents that might be affected by your guests.

10) We practice expressing needs:
  • If you have a need, please express it to a resident if you can. We want to be accommodating if possible (for instance, if you are feeling socially anxious but not wanting to leave, we can provide quiet alone space).

11) We practice recycling:
  • DO NOT THROW AWAY PLASTIC CONTAINERS!!! Recycle what can be recycled, and if you don't want to wash out the item, leave it and James will wash it.

This is open-source: use as you will, but if you edit it, name it something new ;-)

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belenen: (gender abolitionist)
brainstorming house agreements
We're moving into a new place in about a week and I'm brainstorming on house agreements (which will then be discussed with others to modify/add/subtract).  Here's what I have so far:

House Agreements )
connecting: , ,

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