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24 July 2013 @ 03:07 pm
unenthusiastic lack of consent  
[Trigger warning: below is an email I just sent to someone who crossed my boundaries in an unhappy way at a recent party.]

Hi, Ray,

We met at [a party] on Saturday, where we had a series of interactions I want to follow up with you about.

When we were first chatting, I really enjoyed getting to know you, and I found our conversation comfortable and fun. Later in our interactions, though, I feel that you crossed my boundaries repeatedly in a way that felt bad to me.

I'm writing you this note because I think that you are a good person who didn't mean to be invasive or boundary-crossing, and because I think you would want to know that you did so you can avoid doing it again in the future.

I liked our conversation, but I didn't want to kiss you, and I didn't like it that you didn't negotiate with me -- either verbally or physically -- before pretty forcefully going in for a kiss. When I didn't return your kiss and walked away, that should have been an indication to you that I didn't want that kind of interaction with you.

I was especially bothered that, after I left that exchange, you repeatedly approached me to put your arm around me, kiss my neck, and generally continued to try to be physically intimate with me, despite my lack of reciprocation and the fact that I kept removing myself from interactions with you.

All of this felt really bad to me, and it retroactively soured my enjoyment of our earlier conversations. While it is true that I didn't verbally say "no", I did say no through my actions, and you chose not to recognize or respect that.

It's not enough for a person not to say no -- you also need to make sure they're saying YES. You might find the concept of enthusiastic consent to be useful in understanding the difference here. This is a good article outlining the cultural setting and how seeking enthusiastic consent solves it for all of us: http://www.doctornerdlove.com/2013/03/enthusiastic-consent/. I ask that you read this before you're next in the position of moving a conversation into flirty territory.

If you have any questions about any of this, I'm open to exchanging a couple of emails to clarify as needed. It's also fine if this is all that's said on the matter. I'd also like to reiterate that I'm writing this email because I think this was a misstep, rather than intentionally predatory behavior on your part, and I think and hope that this will help you find a better interaction style for yourself in the future.
I'm feeling: strong
unintentional baitredheadedmuse on July 24th, 2013 07:10 pm (UTC)
that's a strong, clear piece of writing. I'm so sorry you were in a position to have to send it, but so glad that you did.
m.entrope on July 24th, 2013 09:03 pm (UTC)
Precisely this. I'm sorry it happened, but you're an absolute rockstar for being able to back it up with a strongly worded email like this.
harimad on July 24th, 2013 09:10 pm (UTC)
There's little for me to add to the above except YES and GO YOU!

And glad you're feeling strong.
dreams_of_wings: pearldreams_of_wings on July 25th, 2013 02:53 am (UTC)
what they said!

Your post also has me thinking, not for the first time, about how to keep teaching these issues in my classes.
Elizabeth Hunterlillibet on July 24th, 2013 07:33 pm (UTC)
Well said. And good on you for saying it.
Mizarchivist: Rosie-Did Itmizarchivist on July 24th, 2013 07:44 pm (UTC)
Thank you for sharing.
stephanie m. clarkson: sand castlethespian on July 24th, 2013 09:18 pm (UTC)
you know, that practically begs to be called the grown up version of this: http://www.rolereboot.org/sex-and-relationships/details/2013-04-the-problem-with-puppy-love

This illustrates, incredibly clearly, just why the parents NEEDED to take that 8-year-old in hand and teach him to stop, because he's going to become this sort of adult.
porpurina: fire handsbloodstones on July 25th, 2013 04:46 am (UTC)
I am not the first, last, or pithiest person to comment on this, but that article reminded me of this comic.

Also, I add my thanks for sharing the email - it is a particularly tactful and graceful way of Dealing With It. Also, the Dealing With It article: http://www.genevievevalentine.com/2013/06/dealing-with-it/

Edited at 2013-07-25 04:51 am (UTC)
metaphortunate sonmetaphortunate on July 24th, 2013 10:22 pm (UTC)
Sorry you had to deal with that. I hope it was indeed accidental and he reacts to your email appropriately.
Will O'the Wispwotw on July 24th, 2013 11:29 pm (UTC)
Your email is terrific.
(Deleted comment)
bison need inbbbsg on July 25th, 2013 05:16 am (UTC)
The Hebrew Hammercock: pic#820100hammercock on July 25th, 2013 04:14 am (UTC)
Brava! I wish I'd ever been able to say anything like this to people who have crossed my boundaries in similar ways in the past. *sigh* If it ever happens again, I hope I will have the presence of mind to do so.
Beowabbitbeowabbit on July 25th, 2013 11:59 am (UTC)
Very, very well done!
drwexdrwex on July 25th, 2013 02:56 pm (UTC)
Thank you for sharing that
It's such a valuable lesson to be reminded about.
Co-conspirator of Squee: fairymuffyjo on July 26th, 2013 02:47 am (UTC)
Thank you for a good example on how to be assertive and positive in response. I know that my family did not discuss anything surrounding intimacy issues...they sort of skipped that step...so I'm always interested in healthy ways to set/reset boundaries to maintain good relations.