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JJ Barnes

JJ Barnes writes about parenting, feminism, current affairs and writing

By - JJBarnes

What we should learn about consent from Jessica Yaniv’s testicles.

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If you’re unfamiliar with the Jessica Yaniv case, I’ll give you a brief history. But if you want to find out more it’ll be pretty easy, Yaniv and her testicles are all across the internet.

Jessica Yaniv wanted to get her body hair waxed, including a full Brazilian, and for Yaniv that means all around the penis and balls. Yaniv contacted some women who specialise in female waxing and work from their home or travel to visit clients to make appointments, but they said no. Some refused because their religion prevents them, some felt unsafe being alone with Yaniv, and others stated a lack of training in waxing the things Yaniv wanted waxed.

Subsequently, Yaniv took sixteen women to court for human rights violations. If Yaniv wins these cases, women could be legally prevented from refusing to touch a penis and balls in future, at risk of being sued and put out of business like these women have been.

Because Yaniv truly believes women have no right to say no.

If women lose the right to say no to penis handling in a professional setting, is this just a slippery slope to the personal? How far can this go?

Since this case came to light, I’ve been thinking a lot about consent, and how we teach it to our children.

We all say no to our children about a variety of things. No snacks before dinner, no TV before bed, no you can’t climb onto the back of the sofa and pelt your sister with marbles. All sorts of things. And it’s a good lesson, they might get annoyed about it, but it teaches them that no means no.

Holding hands

But when it comes to physical contact, so often we do not offer them the respect that we ourselves demand.

Our children might refuse consent to physical contact for all sorts of reasons, but too often they’re pressured to change their no to a yes. Whether it’s giving their aunty a cuddle, or their grandmother a kiss, so often children are taught that their rejection of physical contact is meaningless. Don’t want physical contact? Do it anyway because the adult demands it.

Obviously there are times kids say no and you have to over rule them. My children have said no to cleaning up, no to going to bed, no to brushing their teeth, but obviously I make them do those things anyway. But physical contact is different. Assuming it’s not an issue of safety, nobody has the right to force my child to be touched when they don’t want to be.

If our children grow up learning that they have the right to reject unwanted physical contact, they’ll grow up respecting the rights of others to do so too. If they grow up believing that you demand physical contact and it’s refused that you’re justified in forcing them, through court case if necessary, to change that no to a yes, then you end up with the dangerous entitlement of Jessica Yaniv.

No

Believing your desire to be touched is more significant and valuable than somebody’s right to refuse to touch you is dangerous. It leads to sexual assaults, rapes, and being sued for not wanting to wax a scrotum. And education should start in childhood.

We must respect our children’s no, and teach them to respect the no of others. Consent to physical contact should be placed at a far higher priority than our desires, or whether our genitals are free of unwanted fur. The willingness and consent of the person we want to touch us should matter significantly more than us wanting to be touched.

It is not a human right to have a woman touch your penis, and it should never become one.

It’s not about what genitals you have between your legs, it’s about whether you think you’re entitled to force someone to touch them for any reason. And protecting our right to say no should be a priority right now, because as we should learn from Jessica Yaniv, we are at risk of losing that right.

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