Some many years ago, I was invited to a birthday party in a nearby city. The birthday of a good friend of mine. So I hopped on a bus and took the hour-and-a-half trip into the city and attended said party. The plan was for me to stay the night, since these things run late and I didn't have a car with me. No big deal, I did this often.
Except that they had neglected to mention one -very- important fact.
Most of the rest of the attendees were friends of theirs from the local Fetish Scene. Which wasn't a big deal, really. Those people are often really fun to hang out with. Until a certain point in the evening when they decide that it's a good idea to start tying each other up and beating each other, et cetera.
Now this probably wouldn't have been a big deal if I had known about it. I could have been prepared, or made other arrangements for where to stay that night, or simply not gone if that was my choice. However, I didn't have such warning. I was just there, and had no idea what was going to happen.
The result, you see, was me winding up wildly uncomfortable in a way that would affect me for many years. Perhaps, even, a little traumatized. This is -not- the way a person should be exposed to these things.
I didn't start to really think about it until just recently. I had no reason to. The Fetish Scene in any place is easy enough to avoid. One needs simply not take part and one can effectively ignore its existence. But since my lover enjoys these things, and many of his friends also partake, it has been harder and harder for me to avoid.
I've explained the reasons for my not wanting to be around it, and everyone--EVERYONE--has been very kind and understanding, and more than willing to not expose me to anything that would make me uncomfortable while making themselves readily available if I had questions. But it wasn't until a few days ago that I really figured out -why- I was -so uncomfortable.-
I was explaining it to a friend, telling the story as I do. And, casually flipping the bacon, she gave me the phrase that would make it all all into place. "Well, they removed your consent." Wow.
I hadn't ever thought of it that way, but it makes an awful lot of sense. Anyone in The Scene will tell you that consent is the most important thing. Remove that, and it's definitely a violation. I did not participate in any way, but it was a very small apartment and I couldn't exactly get away. I hid in the one other room and stayed there until everything died down, listening and feeling uncomfortable and vulnerable, not really getting it. I told myself, and my friends, that it wasn't a big deal, but for it to still bother me years later, it clearly was. At least after a fashion.
How does one deal with such a violation? With this particular type of non-consensual sex exposure? Part of me is defensive, closed-off, and undesiring of ever having to deal with it again. I just want to ignore it and hope it goes away. Another part of me is angry and self-righteous, wanting the chance to make my own decision, to take back the consent that was taken from me. This is what came of the realization that I hadn't been able to do that--The decision was forced on me, both to be exposed and to be uncomfortable with the whole thing.
There's one thing I know about myself, and that's that I -hate- having my consent removed from -any- decision. When a choice is taken from me, one of my responses is to take it back--To actively make that choice. The difference is, this time it doesn't necessarily involve making mistakes like it has in the past. (For example, the way of taking back the choice to have sex tends to end in desperate promiscuity, which I don't necessarily regret, but don't like.) I can willingly make the decision to become educated, to talk to these friends, to expose myself slowly and perhaps work through the discomfort so I can get to the point where I can make a decision.
But whatever that is, it will be mine, and not that of a group of strangers or thoughtless friends.