So there I am waiting in line for the airport bathroom when suddenly my buttcheek is lightly grazed by the stranger behind me. As the awkwardness faded away, I began to think about consent within relationships. I decided to do some research into just how many categories relationships could fall into before tackling a very important and yet often undiscussed side of consent. To overly simplify the Ancient Greek outlook on relationship categories for the purpose of this article, there are four categories: romantic, sexual, familial, and platonic. The nature of all of these relationships vary in degrees of intimacy, but there are intimate moments in all of them none the less. And with intimacy of any degree, there must be consent. So how come there is little talk of familial and platonic consent?
My theory is that between families and friendships there is an expected level of intimacy that we’re meant to be comfortable with. However that’s really not the case at all. Recently I was out with a couple of friends and we were discussing if we were “huggers” or not. Out of the four of us, three of us were definitely keen on showing affection through hugging, and one of us was not. She said it made her feel uncomfortable to be that intimate with people and that she tends to come across as coldhearted as a result. That really shouldn’t be the case though, should it? If someone is uncomfortable with being intimate then we shouldn’t force them to be or see them as any less affectionate for that reason. Lovers are very rarely considered less affectionate if they’re uncomfortable with intimacy. In those situation that person is merely deemed unready. So shouldn’t that be the case for platonic relationships as well? I think yes.
Sticking to hugging. let’s move on to familial consent, which is arguably a lot more controversial. Why wouldn’t you want to hug your grandma’s sister? Or that uncle you met when you were five? They’re family and you’re meant to love them and show it. So why didn’t I want to do that with every aunt and uncle I met? It’s a pretty simple explanation; I didn’t really know them, to me they were just strangers I was related to. As a kid, I always felt incredibly uncomfortable having to hug uncles and aunts that “knew” me, but I did it because I was told I HAD to because after all they’re family. As I got older I tried to put off the hugs and kisses from family members I didn’t really know because again, I didn’t know them and I didn’t want to be that intimate with them. This behaviour then came across as incredibly rude and my parents were quick to tell me that. I just don’t think I was wrong in not wanting to be close to someone I barely knew just because we were apparently related. I was always taught to be wary of strangers, and yet strangers with the “family” label were an exception. I don’t think that should be the case. A stranger is a stranger regardless of blood lines. I think it’s time that familial consent starts to become important too. I’ll hug Great Aunt Sally when I’m good and ready thank you very much.
That light research I mentioned:
Intropsych.com. (2016). Six Types of Love | in Chapter 16: SFL | from Psychology: An Introduction by Russ Dewey. [online] Available at:
http://www.intropsych.com/ch16_sfl/six_types_of_love.html [Accessed 25 Apr. 2016].
Pacana, G. (2012). John Lee’s six types of love. [online] Examiner.com. Available at:
http://www.examiner.com/article/john-lee-s-six-types-of-love [Accessed 25 Apr. 2016].
Totescute.com. (2016). The Four Types Of Love – Greek Style. [online] Available at:
http://totescute.com/four-types-of-love-greek-style/ [Accessed 25 Apr. 2016].
Wikipedia. (2016). Outline of relationships. [online] Available at:
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Outline_of_relationships [Accessed 25 Apr. 2016].