An incident occurred this weekend that spurred possibly the most important topic when it comes to relationship and sex: Consent. Before we go into what happened, let’s discuss the definition of consent:
According to Wikipedia, “consent occurs when one person voluntarily agrees to the proposal or desires of another”.
Merriam-Webster defines consent as “compliance in or approval of what is done or proposed by another”.
According to Planned Parenthood, “consent means actively agreeing to be sexual with someone”.
Why did I choose three different locations to define one word when essentially the definitions are all the same? Because there are slight variations and like these three vastly different websites, consent varies from person-to-person. That being said, let’s talk about Wednesday evening.
If you don’t already know, I work with a burlesque troupe. I am a Stage Kitten. A Stage Kitten is essentially a stagehand that picks up discarded clothes, props, and money at the end of the set. In about a week and a half, I’ll be auditioning to be a performer, but that’s beyond the point.
The third Wednesday of the month we have our monthly showcase. This showcase should have been no different than any other, except I had family members show up. My Aunt and her Daughter, we’ll call them X and Y respectively. My Aunt X and Cousin Y sent me a text earlier in the evening saying they and their boyfriends would be coming to the show. I introduced my Aunt and Cousin to as many people as I could.
I absolutely love sharing my life and my enjoyments with family. Stepping aside from the story for a second, my mother rarely showed for any of my performances and still to this day will tell me she’s coming and won’t show up. Alright, mommy issues outed, back to the story.
The show went on per the usual. It was fantastic. The performers are phenomenal, as always. We had a couple guest performers who I met for the first time and they were very cordial. I always enjoy kittening. Except for tonight when I was embarrassed beyond words. My Cousin decided she was going to get completely wasted and during curtain call came on stage and started kissing and hugging on the performers.
Stopping again for reiteration: My cousin SEXUALLY ASSAULTED my co-workers.
Let me repeat that: SEXUALLY ASSAULTED.
Before there’s backlash on the burlesque/venue for not having security, there is. The management is generally security and tonight they were on stage because they were part of the performance. After hugging and giving kisses to two of the performers, my cousin went toward a third before ultimately being ushered off stage by management. One of the performers my cousin sexually assaulted was extremely put off, so put off in fact that they were triggered and had a horrible anxiety attack. They expressed how shaken they were and how they felt violated in what was supposed to be a safe place.
This type of behavior is unaccepted in any forum. This behavior is extremely unaccepted when the person doing the act was not only informed that the Number One Rule of Burlesque is DON’T TOUCH THE PERFORMERS but as a first-time burlesque attendee, the person was brought on stage and had the rules gone over with them!
Touching someone in any way is sexual assault. Anyone touching anyone, woman, man, transexual, non-binary, no one is exempt. Being a woman does not give you permission to touch another person. It is not in good fun. It is a threat.
I am absolutely abhorred by this behavior and as a result, have advised my cousin to not return to our venue in the future.
Consent ranges from person-to-person. Personally, my bubble is extremely small. I’m okay being touched. I’m okay being kissed by friends. I’m not okay with strangers rubbing up on me or being inappropriately touched by anyone, including friends. I’m one of the rare few, and I found this out the hard way during my first Kink night at my favorite bar venue. I casually touched a woman’s arm and she was very put off by being touched. This has taught me that I need to be more mindful about touching people. I now will tell someone when I walk behind them in the bar or ask if I can even just put my hand on their shoulder.
I reached out to the masses to get an idea of just how wide consent can range, and I was honestly surprised that it was much wider than I’d previously thought. One person advised that even their ongoing partners must ask for consent each and every time they touch or kiss then because if they are touched or kiss without knowledge it gives them an anxiety attack. Another person said their ass was grabbed in their church and while their mother was pisssed, they were absolutely thrilled.
Automatically assume that any person you attempt to interact with requires consent. This means verbal, sober consent. A person mentally incapacitated is unable to make life-altering decisions, think deathbed and incoherent. A drunk person cannot give consent and you should automatically assume the answer is “No” if the answer is not “Yes”.
With permission of the Emcee of the show from Wednesday evening, I’m sharing a letter he wrote to my very drunk cousin: