Cathy: Question: When discussing consent in a workshop someone asked, “How do you respond to someone claiming that it’s impractical to ask every participant for consent in a cuddle or fuck pile? Thanks in advance.”
Reid: Yes, so…
Cathy: Reid Mihalko from http://reidaboutsex.com/
Reid: Oh, my god! I just wanna answer this! Cathy Vartuli from http://theintimacydojo.com/
Cathy: It’s a great question.
Reid: Yeah, the impractical is an interesting situation because the question then is about, what’s inconvenient.
Cathy: Or impractical.
Reid: Yeah. So, if you are trying to…I’m trying to come up with a great example but like if you wanted to have a bite of food off of somebody’s plate, and it was a dinner party with all this delicious food, is it impractical to just ask every person, “May I have a bite of your food? May I try that? May I try that? May I try that?” or you’re just like, you know, it’s impractical so you just go around and just grabbing stuffs off of people’s plates. It’s impolite.
Cathy: Well, when it’s multiple people and perhaps their mouths or ears are occupied by people’s thighs or genitals or mouths, like mmm…
Reid: How do you do that? You walk in to the dinner party and you announce to everyone at the dinner party, “I would like a piece of food. I would like to taste some food off of each one of your plates. Is there anybody who’s a no? Raise your hand.”
Reid: And then, it’s not weird if I go over and I say, “Hi Cathy, how are you doing?”
Cathy: You that to me all the time. However, what if there are several piles and you announcing like, they don’t have…
Reid: Several dinner parties?
Cathy: We’re talking about a cuddle or a fuck pile. If there are several piles and they’re not labeled pile A, “are you willing for me to join you?” pile B, “I’m not talking to you”. How do you announce that, so that people…
Reid: Treat groups…this is just my opinion.
Cathy: No, I’m asking. I want to hear your answer.
Reid: You can do whatever you want out there YouTube. But I’ve also been in a lot of cuddle piles and I’ve been in a lot of fuck piles, and it seems that there are not a lot of people angry at me, and people generally think I’m good at consent. The way that I do it is treat a pile of people as if it is an entire whole person and you need to get consent from every part of the pile, not just the head of the pile or the one person who’s like, “Yeah, come on in!” Don’t let one person in a group speak for the entire group. It’s impolite one, especially when it comes to sex, and especially when it comes to entering a conversation that’s about “cuddling”, right? Like it’s a physical conversation using bodies. You’re just, you’re interrupting and you can ask, “Hey, may I cuddle with all of you? And I’d just like to check-in to get everybody here.” While that seems inconvenient, that is damn polite!
Cathy: No, I absolutely agree with you but I want to play a little bit of devil’s advocate because I’ve actually…
Reid: Why are you being bad cop right now?
Cathy: Coz its fun. I never get to play bad cop. I’ve actually not joined some piles because, one person might have invited me in but say they didn’t know other people’s names and they were not looking at me or they’re busy, and I just don’t want to interrupt either the conversation or the activity. So I was like, “Uh, it does looks like it would be too intrusive, so I’m going to opt out this time.” So what do you do if you’d, say you don’t know persons C and D’s name and they’re in the pile but pretty busy with each other?
Reid: So, you do know somebody?
Cathy: I know person A has invited me to come join, but C, D, E, F. C D, I don’t know their names. E F, I know.
Reid: Yeah, so here’s… this is the Math. If the person that you know has watched this video and gets it, then they get it’s important for you to get consent from everybody. And if they really want you in the pile, then they should be helping you check in with everybody. That you tried to check in with everybody overtime helps you build a better reputation. Then if you only check in with one person joining the group, like, so cuddling it might not be as big of a deal but if it’s an orgy, and all of the sudden you know, this other person’s like, “Who? And why are your genitals on my face?” and you’re like, “Well, Reid said it’s okay to be in here.” That doesn’t help this person feel safe. And so when you do the math ahead of it, and realize, “Oh, this is how it could go wrong.” And it going “wrong”, a year from now, two years from now means no one wants to play with me at the orgy. When you look at it that way then it’s like, “Oh, me opting out of playing with this group because I couldn’t get consent with everybody”, that reputation is what gets you laid later way more. And when you starting hanging out with people who understand, “Oh, we should probably check in with everybody. Tap, tap, tap. Hey bob! Are you okay with Cathy joining us? Okay, I’m taking that as a yes. Well, go back to work Bob!”, then you’re hanging out with communities where checking in is just done more powerfully…
Cathy: And it does feel safe. Yeah…
Reid: It feels safer and then what happens is, if you’re just… you know by chance, missed somebody because they were buried under a person, you like…
Cathy: “Oh, I didn’t know you were there.”
Reid: “Sally! I didn’t’ even know you were here!”, that community because of how they handle consent…they get that you checked it, you try to check in with everybody and then we take a little less personally if you just happen to miss us.
Cathy: Yeah. And this is just a great conversation. I have another question for you.
Cathy: So, sometimes in cuddling, we sometimes do like spoon chains.
Reid: Okay. A spoonga line?
Cathy: A spoonga line. So we’re spooned in here and generally, the cuddle parties I’ve been at, people will ask the couple of people here that they might be in contact but they’re not gonna ask 12 people down. Or if it’s a daisy chain in a fuck pile, if people are like linked up going down.
Reid: Yeah. You’re not gonna run to the front of the conga line to ask if everybody’s okay.
Cathy: Right, right. That would be impractical. So what is your suggestion?
Reid: Ok, so this is like a very good question. This is a very good question. And this video is getting long so I’m tempted that we come back, but now let’s just go along. We’ll go along with this one. So here’s my answer. Think about it for yourself, if you were further up in the congo line or the spoonga line or the daisy chain, and somebody further back who’s not having any contact with you, is a part of this group activity, then like, how would you feel about it? You know, how would you feel if your ex was at the back of the line? How would you feel if the somebody that you thought was really creepy and you didn’t like, but the person at the back of the line totally doesn’t mind that person at all? How does that affect your experience?
Cathy: It also, well it could also be an STI, like I like to have people have consent to things and if someone’s invited in that you know, like you don’t know what their STI if you haven’t had a chance to attempt a conversation with them.
Reid: But with the situation that you’re describing, there’s no food exchange with you…
Reid: So how would you feel? This is an actual question and think about your answers too.
Cathy: Yeah. For me, cuddling, I’m fine like, as long as the people that I’m gonna touch…like usually, when you’re in a spoon you might be touching the person next to the person you are cuddling with. You know, just the arms and legs and stuff. So I usually check in with two or three people. But for sexual contact, I think I like when everybody in my group has checked in. That’s my preference.
Reid: And so how would you feel if, if the person who is who is gonna be at the back of the spoonga line, ran to the front and check in with you even though there was never going to be any contact.
Cathy: I think, you know, I’d love that people ask consent but I might consider that. Like, we didn’t need to do that for cuddling.
Reid: And then you, because of that you would be like, I would never want to cuddle that person [inaudible 00:08:16]
Cathy: No, no, no. No, it’s just like, part of the cuddling is just really being present with what you’re doing and relaxed and not having a lot of interruptions for me. So I would, you know…
Reid: So it would be bad if they interrupted you because they weren’t gonna have contact with you.
Cathy: It would just feel a little…not horrible, just a little bit like, oh, you didn’t need to do that, kind of annoying. Like you know, that was over the top about consent for me but some people may feel that I’ve had people that come to a party like, “I do not want to cuddle with some of the same gender” and we want to honor their request on that. And they might feel that you know, someone threw the people away that’s the same gender is too close. So it’s a balancing…
Reid: And then in a daisy chain, and for those who don’t know what daisy chain is, you don’t need to Google it coz you will see too much.
Cathy: Not at work.
Reid: It’s basically when people are having sex with each other and then the person that you’re having sex with is having sex with the other person in front of them, and the person that is in front of them is having sex with somebody in front. And then if you can circle the daisy so that it’s a complete circle, lots of thing. And it can be all kinds of sex, some people think of daisy chain can only happen if it’s all penetrative but you can have an oral sex daisy chain, you can have it mix it up.
Cathy: Fingers, hands.
Reid: You get to have, you get to define daisy chain however you want. So, if you were in a daisy chain and somebody ran around the circle checking in with everybody, would you feel like you had been interrupted?
Cathy: I don’t think so. I think I would feel better about it but it also depends on how long the daisy chain is. So, if it’s like 15 people away, I might be like…
Reid: Don’t know we’re okay?
Reid: So, I’m gonna say that the rule of thumb here seems to be from interviewing Cathy…
Cathy: This is my opinion.
Reid: Interviewing Cathy, that you’re better checking in than not. And then if you want to be really savvy, if you have a conversation with everybody who’s at the cocktail party before about sharing food or in this case, “Hey, we’re at the orgy. Is there’s a daisy chain that’s about to happen and I want to come in a little late, can we just have a quick conversation about how we do group check-ins?” and you can have a conversation about group cuddling and be how do we have group check-ins.
Reid: This is why I think it’s so important to try to talk to everybody at orgies or have an opening conversation with people who are strangers, who haven’t cuddled before. This is really the format of cuddle party and go to http://www.cuddleparty.com/ to find a cuddle party in your neighborhood. But these group conversations at the beginning, that’s what that’s one of the ways that you create safety for folks to explore affection – non-sexual all the way to sexual.
Cathy: So, look back to the question when someone who says, “Hey, I think it’s impractical to check in.” One of the things I like to do is say, “Hey, this is not a normal situation for a lot of people. There’s people here probably who don’t have a lot of experience on how to interact in group settings with touch. It’s outside what they teach us in society generally. So it’s worthwhile taking the extra steps to make sure everybody feels safe and that people can relax and have a really good time.”
Reid: Yeah. It’s also impractical to put life jackets on everybody who’s in a boat and make sure that they know how to you know, safely evacuate, you know, a plane or boat or…like, creating safety often feels impractical especially with large groups of people. And when you have the reputation that you make people feel safe, and that you know how to create safe space for and “safe”- nothing’s really “safe” but safer space for people, then you become somebody that people seek out. If you want to be somebody who can be sought out for things like cuddling or daisy chains, then maybe putting in extra work which could feel impractical, is actually the best choice you could ever make.
Cathy: Thanks so much for your question.
Reid: And that’s when we grow on.
Cathy: Oh yeah.
Reid: Leave a comment. This is a long video. We apologize but not really.