I’ve been watching the #MeToo tweets and Facebook posts with a heavy heart, not only because it’s tough to read what people have been through, but it’s tough knowing a lot of horrible stories that haven’t been shared and having to acknowledge that what we’re seeing still only scratches the surface of the problem. It’s also tough knowing that some survivors can’t handle being on social media right now because the callback to their own trauma is not bearable. What we’re seeing? It’s not even close to the worst of the problem.
I’ve been wondering what to say, what to suggest. Make bell hooks and Simone de Beauvoir required high school reading? Consent isn’t complicated. It is, however, complicated to build a world in which enough men actually internalize the idea having sex without a partner’s engaged, continuing consent makes them rapists and that pushing your unwanted sexual attention on a person is assault. It’s more complicated than it should be, but there you have it, and words are cheap when it comes to offering comfort and hope to every woman who has ever almost wept with relief behind the wheel of her car to have made it through a dark parking lot unharmed.
All I have got for you is this: an analysis (tongue slightly in cheek) of a video of a dog who sets an example for how to handle yourself if you’ve got more power than someone you have the chance to play with.
Let’s play “Armchair Textual Analyst.”
Luna the Corgi and Simon the Bearded Dragon are playing tug.
Luna: Yay! This is so much fun! Tugging is good!
Simon loses his grip.
Luna: Bows playfully, tail wagging, drops the toy. You still want to play, Simon?
Simon quickly goes after the toy. Luna waits a beat, picks up the other end, and “wins” again. Chews on toy a moment, lets Simon approach and pick it up again.
Luna: We tug because it’s fun. Tugging is not fun if you never win.
Luna drags Simon across the rug a bit, then lets go, circling and chasing and letting Simon “win” a couple of times, but gives Simon a good chance to show his strength, dragging him across the floor.
Luna gets possession of the toy again and runs away, but not very fast, giving Simon time to catch up and latch on again.
Rinse and repeat.
What does Luna know?
Here’s what Luna seems to understand about power and privilege and diversity:
- You don’t have to look like me or talk like me or move like me to be fun to play with. (Yay for diversity!)
- What’s most fun for me is what keeps you wanting to play with me. (Yay for enlightened self-interest!)
- It’s only a fun game if we’re both continuing to have fun. (Yay for seeking engaged consent!)
- I’ve got some advantages over you in this game, so sometimes I have to check myself to make sure the game stays fun for you so I can continue to enjoy the pleasure of playing with you. (Yay for sharing privilege!)