Social skill: Noticing a consent problem
I’m not entirely sure how to describe this, but I know it’s a thing, and I know a *little* about how to deal with it:
Some people have been systemically taught that they are absolutely never allowed to say no to anything. That their boundaries don’t matter, and that they’re not really people.
For this reason, some things you’d normally do in order to establish consent and find out someone’s preferences don’t work *at all*.
For instance, asking “do you want to eat a sandwich?” is a totally useless question when you’re asking someone who’s been taught to interpret this as a command. Which a lot of people have been, because they’re in the power of people who don’t want to perceive themselves as having power over others. So they use lots of things that *look* like questions and polite requests, but aren’t.
And people get really, really good at correcting identifying orders and giving every outward appearance of consent. Because that dynamic punishes everything else.
So you have to do it differently. You have to make more guesses (not the right word, but don’t know a better one). And you also have to ask questions differently. You have to ask in a way that *doesn’t* suggest an answer. And you have to remind people that saying no is possible. For instance “Do you want to watch TV now, or do something else?” is better than “do you want to watch TV now?”, but still probably not good enough.
But you have to notice this. And take it into account when you interact with people. I know some of my followers on here know more about how to do this than I do — comments anyone?
I still do this even years after getting away from people who did stuff like that. :x
It’s hard hard hard to unlearn that. When learning how to be that compliant is survival, and when you have a lot of experience getting really good at it, and you’re so good at it that it becomes automatic — even *noticing* that you’ve done it can be damn hard. Hard hard hard.
And it’s upon everyone who interacts with people who have learned this anti-skill to make it possible for them not to use it in their interactions with you.
And it’s hard to do that, and not something our culture really values, and I want to think a lot more about how to do that right.
Consent is more complicated than asking first.
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