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Your Consent is Not Required

A picture of a hand writing

A warning to the world et al., if I know you, have heard of you, or read something about you I am going to have opinions.

I might even (this is fairly unlikely) write about you. Even if you don’t consent. This is the way the world, and life, works.

People review restaurants, Doctors, Teachers and a myriad of other things, they don’t ask for permission first. Newspapers are free to write and publish articles about anyone and anything, and while they might ask for comment, they certainly don’t ask for permission. Writers write unauthorized biographies, TMZ and a thousand magazines keep us up to date on all matter of “news” about celebrities weight, love life and more, with no thought at all of asking if anyone would mind. Bloggers tell us of the doings of poets, priests and politicians with nary a thought (well sometimes they might hope to outrage) as to whether these folks will approve. Even on the smallest of scales we share tales of friends, neighbors, lovers, spouses with other people.

Imagine a world where this wasn’t the case?

Imagine if before committing a word to whatever medium you used, you had to ask first.

That the people you are about to talk about had the ability to say “No thank you” for whatever reason they wanted.

I think we might find there was suddenly a dearth of information. I know that the people who are in positions of power would find this delightful, a life where nary an aspersion was cast their way. No stories in the press to worry about.

Now we get to the meat of the subject, in this example you are a blogger, you write on a variety of topics including your dating/sex life. Do you need to ask permission from your date/one night stand/SO/spouse to write about any aspect of your relationship?

I say a resounding NO, now I am not saying you should list all the details, name, address, phone number, blood type. But I am saying that you should always feel free to write about any experience good or bad and never have to tell your subject that you did so. Writing is the way that many best communicate their feelings, thoughts and emotions about all that life brings their way and should always be perceived as their personal viewpoint, not THE truth, but A truth of their experiences.

And let’s face it, we all do it, when we tweet, or make a (shudder) Facebook status update, we all tell little snippets and stories from our lives. What made us laugh, cry, angry and almost always those small stories reveal something about someone who affected us. Even this post. In answering the question of “Do we need permission?” is an example. I have not named who or what prompted this writing, nor have I asked “Would this be ok to write and post?” And I shouldn’t have to.

I’d like to address the question of consent in all this, because since I am involved in D/s a fair number of people might reasonably ask if I have considered that point as consent makes up a very large part of how I interact within a BDSM framework. This is indeed something I have spent a great deal of time thinking about. Molly and I have a 24×7 D/s relationship so I often consider consent in almost all aspects of our lives. My answer to that is that consent is finite, both in seeking and granting it. While it is not possible to overstate the use of communication and consent in D/s in my mind it cannot cover everything. A person cannot consent to allow their Dom/me to chop off a limb or take their life. Conversely on the other end of the scale you cannot expect people to ask for consent from every person they interact with just in case they might want to write about it later.

None of this means that you should write about every feeling and thought you have about all of your interactions. I don’t think that would be healthy. I think that thoughtful prudence about the consequences of what you write are a great guide for deciding what you should and should not write about (I myself tend to keep those thoughts and feelings of mine to myself as a general rule), but the very thought that someone would think they could tell me that I am not allowed to talk/write/tweet/instagram/smokesignal my opinions, thoughts and feelings, well that pisses me off enough to actually write something about it.

So let’s all agree that we can all write about what we want and we will all try to deal with it as best we can. Because, after all, we are supposed to be grownups*, right?




* I make no actual claim to maturity or wisdom as anyone who has met me can attest to.


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