Stop Hugging Me

“I can never consent to being dictated to.” -John Tyler

As the whole harassment policy-conferences-feminism-sexism debacle drags on, there are more and more people writing dumbshit stuff about feminism and consent within the atheist community. I was reading through some skeptic blogs and read a few posts on hugging. This is one of them.

This post specifically finds fault with this aspect of the American Atheist code of conduct:

“You are encouraged to ask for unequivocal consent for all activities during the conference. No touching other people without asking. This includes hands on knees, backs, shoulders — and hugs (ask first!). There are folks who do not like to be touched and will respect and like you more if you respect their personal space.”

Apparently. this is “intrusive, infantilising, officious, badly thought through, and generally, to say the least, unfortunate – not to mention impractical.”

Yes, asking for consent is intrusive. That’s why you never ask for consent before, say, sitting next to someone (Is this seat taken?) or moving into someone’s personal space (Excuse me, can I get by you?”) or before touching someone else’s stuff (Can I move this bag?)

Greta Christina has a great post on hugging and handshakes in which she outlines how to properly hug someone, because apparently that wasn’t clear. Anyone who thinks consent requires a release form has been watching too much Law & Order. Look, if you open your arms to hug someone and they smile and step towards you and open their arms back, congratulations, you’ve gotten consent. With your body language, you have said “May I hug you?” and the other person has said “Yes you may.” If they don’t, then stop trying to fucking hug them.

You wouldn’t walk up to a stranger and touch their stuff right? So why do people think it’s ok to walk up to a stranger and touch their person?