On Establishing Consent
Before you touch anybody, or their rope, you need to be sure that they actually want you to be touching their body, or their rope. You can do this by asking something like:
- ”I’d like to practice hip harnesses. Would you be interested in being my practice bottom for that?”
- “Oh, wow, how did you tie that? Is it okay if I touch you (addressed to the bottom) and your rope (addressed to the top) to follow the knots?”
- “What kind of rope is that? May I touch it?”
- ”Are you having trouble finishing off that tie? Would you like a hand? Is it okay if I touch you (addressed to the bottom) and your rope (addressed to the top)?”
If you’re teaching, or being shown a demonstration, you still need explicit consent to touch someone or their rope. In fact, if you are teaching to an audience, please use explicit consent as a model for others to follow.
Once you’ve asked someone for their consent, listen closely to their answer. Enthusiastic consent will be just that- “Yes, definitely!” “Absolutely.” “Please do.” The person you’re talking to feels positively about you touching them.
Keep in mind, consent is an ongoing process. Just because a person says yes, doesn’t mean that “yes” is the answer for the duration of the event. If the person giving consent becomes uncomfortable at time time, yes can change to no and those feelings should be respected.
Many people are uncomfortable saying “No” directly and instead decline in an indirect manner. Examples of this are:
- “Well, I don’t know..”
- “Maybe later”
- “I’d prefer not to”
- “I’m practicing with this person”
Many Rope Bite attendees have known each other for years. You won’t necessarily see them asking before touching one another. It may be difficult to determine what terms you’re on with somebody you’ve practiced with several times in the past. As a rule of thumb, if you don’t have a person’s personal phone number, you probably need to ask before touching them. Consenting to one activity one day does not transfer to other activities, or events in the future.
If Somebody’s Behavior Towards You is Skeezing You Out
- ”Can you watch from a more respectful distance? You’re too close to where I’m tying.”
- ”I need you to stop touching me below the waist.”
- ”Your touching is making me uncomfortable. Please stop.”
- ”These sexual innuendos are making me uncomfortable. Can we talk about something else?”