I recently compared consent culture at Twin Oaks to my gluten-free diet. Let me explain…
So before I transitioned to a mostly paleo-ish diet, I was doing the general Standard American Diet (SAD) thing and didn’t really think that anything was super wrong because I was used to feeling a bit uncomfortable after eating. I thought that this discomfort was normal. Once I eliminated most processed foods, gluten, grains, beans, and dairy, I felt so much better and feel somewhat foolish that didn’t even realize that feeling better was a possibility until now. Avoiding these foods has also made me more sensitive over time to when I do consume them, either intentionally or accidentally.
This is similar to my experience with daily minor consent violations that are common in the mainstream and happen much less here at Twin Oaks. In the mainstream, the slight discomfort felt when someone pats you on the back without asking or touches your arm to get your attention when you’re not that emotionally close to them is normalized (and exacerbated by sexism). You don’t realize until it’s gone that you don’t have to feel that way because people aren’t supposed to do that. At Twin Oaks, I thought it was a little weird at first that folks would ask if they could hug me or give me a high five. But then, I began to appreciate that I didn’t have to have as many awkward interactions where folks (mainly cis men) randomly touch me unnecessarily while talking to me, expecting that I was “supposed” to be ok with it. I can breathe a lot easier knowing most people here will maintain good boundaries around casual touch most of the time. Knowing that this feeling of ease exists makes me more sensitive to the times when it does still happen. I get more upset now than I used to about people just going in for the hug or high five without asking me, will likely reject a visitor who casually touches folks without asking, and get more annoyed in the mainstream when I notice that this behavior continues everyday outside of our little bubble.
I’d like more people (especially women, trans folks, and non-binary people) to be able to move freely in the world without feeling mildly uncomfortable all the time (often due to the carelessness and/or entitlement of cis men). So let’s all try to be better at this since I think we can all benefit from transitioning away from the Standard American Diet of sexism and consent violations and into a world of trust and ease.