An interesting post in Zero to the Bone raises questions of touch, specifically what determines touchability. Who are the most-touched people in our society, for example? ZttB suggests the elderly, the disabled, children, women… People who don’t have autonomy over themselves. They also describe this as an indicator of one’s sociocultural status: can others touch you in certain ways, or demand touch of you, without first acquiring your informed and willing consent? This does indeed seem a real, even measurable, phenomenon.
The above post also reminded me of an essay by Hazel Cedar Troost, “Reclaiming Touch”. In it ze questions why consent to touch in various forms is assumed between certain kinds of people. Zealso looks at what it means to “own” another’s body in the form of touching.
I’ve been thinking a lot lately about what bodily autonomy actually means, and how certain people don’t have it, children in particular. Even as I try to be more conscious of how and when I touch others, I find myself taking for granted the touch of small children. Every time I see me landlord’s little girls, for instance, I almost always touch them– tickling, poking, hair-tousling, etc. It is practically subconscious. How many other kinds of touching are also so taken for granted?