OoF! I see the issue of abuse has been picked up. I'll try to explain what i meant when i put that in there.
When i was 5 my abuser introduced me to a game i hadn't played before. There was a lot of "talking up" of this game which made it seem exciting and desireable. There was a lot of "Well, you're too little to play this game anyway, and you probably wouldn't do it properly" which of course made me DESPERATE to prove myself as a good game player. I was expecting something like ludo. The game involved me performing sex acts on him. Now, i did not know about sex. I did not know about abuse. At the time i didn't even know the proper words for male or female genitals. After we played "the game" felt terribly guilty for reasons i didn't understand (i believe, having talked to others in a similar posiion, that it is a mechanism of biology trying to prevent incest and protect sexually immature individuals) and as i got older and had the secrecy and danger of exposing the game to others highlighted again and again i began to realise it wasn't "right" to do it, but by then i was convinced that *I* had made *HIM* play it to begin with. "This is your show" he would say "you make the choices" and all the while he was manipulating every thought and action of mine until i was tied in knots. As much as my sense of morality pulled me away from him, my sesne of fairness and "good girl" ness pushed me back towards him - after all i had participated willingly, i couldn't take it back now, right? On the occasions when i participated willingly in abuse i COULD NOT consent truly to what i was doing, because as a 5, 6, 7 year old, i didn't know WHAT i was consenting to. I didn't know WHY he wanted to play that game, i didn't know WHAT it meant, i didn't know HOW to prevent it. He manipulated me completely and thoroughly. Perhaps HE believed i wnted to be abused, i certainly felt i must have for much of my life. He never commanded me to play, he would say "You want to play don't you, i can tell by the way you're moving/looking at me/standing" - basically i was his little mirror and he loved to gaze and see whatever he wanted to see there.
The actual balance of power between him and i was relatively minor - he is my brother and only 4 years older than me. But it was enough. It was enough that by using every trick HIS abuser (our school headmaster) had used to entrap him and have him "consent" to the game he could very very easily do the same to me. Did he even know, at 10, that he was manipulating me and doing "wrong"? I don't know. But at 16 he did, and yet he continued. He grew into his role as i grew into mine.
There is a reason we call sexual acts between adults and children "abuse" and that it is criminal in law - children are not ABLE to give consent. They will agree to all kinds of horrific, deadly or perverse thing to make the person who is manipulating them happy. I loved my brother. I wanted to play catch with him. But he would only play if i played the game first. So i played. That is so so so very VERY different from doing kinky things in the bedroom with my partner. My DP doesn't use manipulation to get me to agree to sexual acts, nor does he invite me for a coffee then say "coffee" is another word for "sex" (another trick of my abuser). I know all about sex, i know about my partners needs and my own, we have a sexual dynamic that both of us came to with full consent because we were both adults who knew exactly what we were getting ourselves into. And in our kinkier moments there is a safe word. There was no safe word with my abuser. In an abusive situation the abused has no power because they don't have full knowledge, or experience, or communicative abilities to REALLY choose. If you present 2 choices any child, even a baby, will choose one. But DD was 3 before she began asking for a choice that wasn't offered, and even now she only asks for the options she knows about. If i say "water or milk" she might say "juice!" but she would never say "gin!" because she doesn't know about gin.
Now, obviously abuse is the most extreme example of this, because usually the situation where power taken from or presented to a toddler or child is loving, or at least benign. My point is only that for me
children are incapable of consent because they are not as informed as the adults, and if a child cannot consent you therefore cannot live consensually with them. I see that children grow into their consent. At 3 DD IS capable of knowing what she wants to drink from the narrow options she knows about. She is not capable of choosing what is the best thing (she would drink juice night and day and have no teeth if i didn't limit her options) and i don't attempt to gain her consent to withhold juice if i feel it's not the best choice, because she is only concerned with having juice, not slaking thirst or protecting her teeth. When she is 10 i will certainly NOT be limiting her options WRT juice because 10 is old enough to think about one's teeth and body. Equally i won't be throwing "gin" in as an option until she is a good bit older than 10.
I am confident, because i have discussed it with him, that my abuser felt those moments of willingness, of "consent" from me, excused what he was doing, even though he also admits he knew it was wrong, especially latterly. But, he says, he couldn't stop doing it, so he rationalised it however he had to. He told himself i wanted to do it too, and absolved himself, albeit temporarily, ofhis burden of guilt.
So i question "consent" from small children. To me even the CHILD can think they are consenting and fully in agreement and fine with what is happening, and it ca still be the most awful situation in the world. When i consented to abuse, and in action and word i definitely sometimes did, i had no idea what i was really consenting to. I question that any small child is capable of informed consent over a given issue. FOR ME
is in't true, children cannot give consent because their information and experience is too limited for them to have that ability, thus one (or at least *I*) cannot live consensually with children.
While i am here:
|Every parent, whether attached or not, becomes consensual with their children - or, as some would see it, all giving. We feed them and change them when the cry - usually right away. AP parents generally feed on demand - etc etc etc...we model the consensuality in hopes that our children will model it back when they are able. We are free to not meet their needs - but we *choose* to
Do we really choose to? When someone's kid is crying it is irritating to me, i want to move away from the noise. When MY baby cries my nerves jangle, my heart races, i get a weird flipflop in my stomach and every fibre of me YELLS "get the baby!" until i do. I have lots of mainstream friends who use CIO and every single one of them felt the same initially, they just persevered long enough that the feelings became numbed. Many of them sat outside the nursery crying as their baby cried inside, convinced that however wrong it felt, they were doing the Right thing. For them it was a trial to overcome the impulse to answer their child's cries. I didn't even try to overcome that impulse. Nature bonded me to my baby. When she cried milk spurted from my breasts, where is the "choice" in that? Biology made me love her. Biology set me up to answer her cries. Attending to her is not a choice for me, it is a need, as much as any of my personal needs (eat, pee, sleep) are. I consented in the sense that i got pregnant and planned as natural a birth as possible to hopefully enhance bonding, but i don't choose in the moment, there is no consent in a let-down brought on by a child's cries or a racing pulse at the sight of them falling off the climbing frame.