This is our truth, tell us yours
A lovely phrase I have learnt from twitter is “hugs if wanted”. When someone is upset or distressed a hug can be a wonderful thing, for other people though they can simply increase the stress, being touched can be triggering and we can never know how another might react. Often we want to hug someone because of our needs, to silence their sorrow, to feel we are doing something, to appear compassionate. Then the hug becomes about us and our ego, not about the person who is expressing strong emotion.
There is a reason for this wander around the topic of enthusiastic consensual hugging, today DLT got found not guilty of sexual assault, of groping. The news is reporting that he claimed simply to be a touchy feely kind of guy, one who hugged and had no il intention behind those hugs.
I do not have a predatory nature with women”, he said, “I have a cuddly nature.
The jury agreed with his interpretation, and with the judges direction that either DLT was telling the truth and the witnesses were cash hungry liars, or the witnesses were and DLT was a serial sexual predator. No doubt the Hamiltons and other rape apologists are already out, their sound bites prepared in defence of rape culture.
Surely, I hear you say, non consensual hugging has nothing to do with rape culture? I would argue that the claims and counter claims of this trial go to the heart of rape culture. DLT seems to be saying that it is OK for him to grab, hug, touch other people because his intention was not to rape, grope or sexually assault them, in his mind at least. How they perceived his attentions is irrelevant, his motivation has been put at the heart of the verdict.
Intention does of course matter, but are we really saying the final say in whether an assault happens is in the hands of the men accused of that assault? How many victims of date rape (horrid term but I don’t know any better) know that their rapist does not consider it rape? How many victims of marital rape know that their rapist believes they only took what was theirs by right? If you behave in such a manner that another person feels harmed it is your behaviour that needs to be called into question, not the response of the other person.
Carter puts this very clearly when he speaks about his ideas of a responsible Dominant. He has stated that if a sub accused him of rape or assault after the event their prior consent would be meaningless, since he had harmed them through his actions all that would matter would be their view of events. Thats called being a grown up. We tell toddlers we do not touch others without permission, however over and over again patriarchy says these rules do not apply to cis white men.
There is no such thing as just a hug if it is unwanted touching, and if a person is subjected to unwanted touching it is rape culture to say that their distress or dismay is made up or imaginary. A world where everyone asked to hug would also be a world where everyone remembered the needs and wants of the other person were as important as their own. That would be the final nail in the coffin of rape culture.