The Independent have released an article online which may have accidentally caused some controversy.
Researchers from Finland, England, Italy, France and Russia asked over 1,300 people to colour in a map where they thought it would be appropriate to be touched. But nowhere in this article does it mention whether the people being touched have a say in it.
The ‘body map of the places it is inappropriate to touch someone in social situations’ details only this. It doesn’t mention the fact that consent is a huge issue, only the fact that the relationship between the two people is the defining factor whether it’s appropriate to touch them. Another study found that the closer the person is in a social relationship “the larger the body area this person is allowed to touch”. But what if you’re in a violent relationship? What if you don’t want to be touched full stop? This study implies that no one has a say in their personal space, and your relationship to any person will determine this.
Whether you are married, single, in a relationship, and are either happy or unhappy, it goes without saying that in any circumstance, you are in control of your body. The worrying thought is that the Independent’s article does not mention anyone’s permission period. Only that science has deemed it acceptable. But is this acceptable?
One example which is still an extreme issue is sexual harassment on nights out. Alcohol is good to have fun, but it does not entitle people to grope or even touch people who have not given their consent. It may seem like playful flirting, but the victim may well have been subject to a lot worse, and the experience can be extremely disturbing for them. Even sober, it’s still not OK.
Personal space of other’s has to be respected more, and this article’s entire omission of the concept just goes to show how more needs to be done to spread the message further.