Right, so it’s been a hella long time since I’ve actually posted anything, but in my defence I’m in a degree year now in college and have been mad busy so I kinda just let my writing disappear into an abyss… until NOW.
I am currently in the process of making a documentary as part of college, and I chose to do mine on consent. Obviously this is a major issue worldwide, and has been going to forever, so I wanted to do something in order to help combat this problem.
Disclaimer: I know that making a college documentary really doesn’t actually do much, but I at least hope that it could encourage people to talk more and realise that consent really is important. In fact, from meeting and talking to so many different people, I have realised myself and consent really isn’t actually about a no, as much as it’s about yes, in fact, to quote one of my contributors, “a hell yes!”.
So, with all that in mind, I thought I’d write about this first part I am filming for the documentary itself. This weekend I am going to a ‘cuddle party’, which is a whole new world to me. I’ve never even heard of a cuddle party before let alone attend one.
Upon arriving at the Teaching Rooms in Cork city, I found a bundle of butterflies growing ever so slowly inside of me. I was early, and which each new person to arrive, a new butterfly appeared. What was I getting myself in to, I would find myself thinking. I’m not always the biggest ‘hugger’ so I really thought I had to be crazy to go to an event centred on them.
Once everyone arrived, we started the introductory workshop. This involved talking with the different people around us, partaking in exercises, and going through the rules. These can be found here. Everything was pretty easy. But I still found myself on edge, and i think that was somewhat apparent to those around me who reminded me that I don’t have to do anything I didn’t want to do.
I found myself becoming more comfortable. So far, so good. I was just talking with lot’s of different people, having a laugh. All was going well. But then the workshop part was over and that actual ‘party’ started. I found my anxiety rising again as I couldn’t bring myself to hug anyone, or cuddle, or even just hold hands. It felt as though I was going against my norm and entering this new realm.
Personally, I felt comfortable just taking a step back and observing what was going on around me. It was actually really heartwarming to see all these people, some of which didn’t know each other before arriving, sitting around and cuddling or massaging eachother. It was just like being eight years old again, at a sleepover, where everything was just innocent and pure.
Slowly, I encouraged myself to get more involved. just lying down beside these strangers, talking about life and goals, it was really peaceful. There was hand holding, hand massages, head, shoulder, neck massages, spooning, meditation… so many different options of human contact were going on in this small room.
By the end of this three-hour experience, I felt as though I had made connections with these wonderful strangers. I was even sad that I live so far from Cork to be able to attend another one anytime soon. It was strange that in such a short span of time, bonds were made. Numbers were swapped around and promises to see each other again.
The whole experience was just heartwarming, inspiring. Although this was a cuddle party, I never had to cuddle anyone. In fact the even as a whole is just based around saying yes (and no!) to the specific type of non-sexual, human contact you want. It’s a space that encourages you to say no, within a society that can sometimes shame you for that.
I would definitely recommend a cuddle party to everyone, at least once. I think they are clearly a great learning experience in regards to consent, no matter how much you may think you know on the topic.