We’ve started having “the talk” with my son. You know the one. The talk about enthusiastic consent. He’s 3.
You may think that’s too young but I’m wondering if we waited too long. The other day we were in bed and he decided that he wanted to give me a hug. I was working on my laptop at the time, and didn’t want to be hugged. He became upset that I didn’t want to accept his hug. That’s when it hit me, he doesn’t understand consent.
He wanted to hug me. I didn’t want to be hugged. Who gets to decide what happens (or doesn’t happen) next? The person whose body is going to be touched gets to decide if they want to be touched. In this case, I told him that I didn’t want to be touched and that a hug had to be consensual (BOTH parties had to want it) to be able to move forward.
At first, he didn’t get it. I had to say it several times in different ways. Eventually, he just sat next to me and didn’t try to hug me. My guess is that we’ll need to have this conversation many ways over many years. I hope that he’ll learn what enthusiastic consent is and how important it is in relationships (friendships, loveships, etc.).
After all this talk about Aziz Ansari, and coercion, it’s important that I raise children that genuinely want to have healthy sexual experiences.