I had a conversation over the weekend that reminded me of an incident with one of my exes — a communication screwup that really highlights how strangely our culture thinks about consent, and how BDSM ideas of negotiation can work against that.
Wow, I’m realizing that I’m about to write a totally serious post about tickling. I hope I don’t sound too pompous.
So, I was lying around having a casual conversation with this particular ex, and he started tickling me. I really wanted him to stop, so I asked him to. He didn’t. I safeworded, and he still didn’t stop. Furious, I lashed out and scratched him badly enough to bleed. I do believe I left a scar.
He got upset because he was bleeding, and I got upset because he hadn’t listened to me. I can’t remember how exactly we talked it out; it was a pretty tense moment. I think I might have apologized, but I also might not have. I was really angry, and my stance was, “So I drew blood — how else was I supposed to get you to stop? You should have respected how much I don’t like that, and it is totally not okay that you ignored my safeword!” He snapped back that it simply never occurred to him that I would actually safeword, for real, against being tickled. Tickling just seemed like such a mild, unimportant thing to him ….