Wednesday, February 21, 2018

Pagan Consent Culture Reflection 4: Reclaiming Touch and Final Thoughts

In the excerpt, Phyllis K. Davis (1999) discusses the healing potential of physical touch. I have read several articles on the power of touch to bring healing and well-being, particularly emotional, to patients in the hospital. Working in a children's facility, I was exposed to the power of touch through the programs put in place to have volunteers come in and spend time holding the babies. Research shows that babies who are held grow and thrive far more than those who are not. We started to see greatly improved health outcomes for our little ones when we added physical contact with other humans outside of typical treatment protocols in a more holistic approach to healing.

The suggested activities seem useful to someone who is attempting to reclaim touch. As a person without touch trauma, I can see why one would need to practice things like asking for a hug in a group or exchanging back massages. These are the types of things one sees often at pagan gatherings--but what if these things spontaneously arise and trigger a victim of previous abuse? This is why ALL touch needs consent. When we decide we need physical contact, we must remember that our need is only one-half of the equation. True consent requires both parties to have the chance to make an informed choice and respond with enthusiasm or decline with grace without fear of retribution or violation.

As I move on from this work, I look toward fleshing out the final project into a full course designed to teach others what healthy small group dynamics look like, power differentials and how to handle them, and conflict resolution--all framed in an atmosphere of consent. Some of these lessons were easy, and some were difficult to learn, because societal mores tell us that social hierarchy dictates how much say we have (or, rather, do not have) over our own bodies, lives, and choices. Personal sovereignty is not a game. It is not something we should have lost, but it is something we need to work to reclaim. This work won't be easy, but I am in it for the duration. I hope you will join me.

Davis, P.K. (1999). The power of touch. Carlsbad, CA: Hay House, Inc. pp. 192-209

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