Discussion Thread: Touching/Not Touching as Control

[Content Note: Hostility to consent; bias against marginalized bodies.]

Against the backdrop of Beyoncé getting "spanked" onstage by some random asshole who felt entitled—and empowered by a misogynist and racist culture—to touch her body without her permission, I've been having an excellent conversation on Twitter with Trudy, Ana, Shane, and others about touching and not touching as a form of control and/or shaming.

One of the things I noted is how, as a fat woman, I get this from both angles: I am frequently touched without my consent as a woman because women's bodies are treated like public property. And as a fat person, I am frequently not touched—or it is made plain to me that touching me is HORRIBLE—by people whose job it is to touch me—healthcare providers, hairdressers, tailors, etc. (I was fortunate to not have this experience, but I know there are tattooists who refuse to work on fat bodies, as another example.) In both cases, the ultimate goal is to communicate to me that I am less than.

This is something that is not unique to people with fat bodies, of course. People with marginalized bodies of all sorts may experience the same refusal to touch and/or the touching of their "exotic" body and its fat or scars or skin color or particular hair type.

In what ways have you experienced touching or not-touching (especially nonsexual touching or not-touching) as a form of control and/or shaming in your everyday life, particularly in ways that intersect with the parts of your identity that are non-privileged?

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