[ cw: consent, frame control, power, dominance, abuse ]
I think 'asking for consent' might just be asking, 'are you going to adopt the narrative that you have made the choice for yourself / will you maintain a narrative of internal locus of control for this.'
Asking for consent is 'respecting that the other has the ability to choose their own frames.' Even if we don't actually have a total ability to choose our frames, there is some game theoretic / moral reason to act as though we all buy into this being true.
The reason 'not getting my consent' is such a violation is in part because... well, the feeling I have around it is, "This person actively does NOT want me to have control of my own frame. They want to live in a world where I don't get a choice of frame and where I can't put forth frames into existence. In some sense, they want to erase me." Or, perhaps more accurately, "They want me to never have been, so that they don't have to realize there's a real effing Person to be erased in the first place."
I imagine this isn't the same reason others have, for why consent-violation is bad. But this particular thing is incredibly awful for me.
At least with things like 'persuasion', I can still maintain the feeling that I have an internal locus of control and that somehow I'm still making choices (even when I don't have quite the level of choice I think I do).
But if I sense that someone else actively doesn't WANT me to have an internal locus of control, or unwilling to respect that I might have one, this feels... like the opposite of love. Which isn't hate. It's a desire to erase. A desire to act like a person is not a 'person'—and instead an 'object'.
It is common for parents to unwittingly erase their children, and in fact, all of society is complicit in making this the norm. This seems true in both Western and Eastern cultures—although less so in Western cultures.
I can't tell if this is 'always bad'—I suspect it isn't. Imposing frames on children is sometimes important, since they're missing a lot of data and can't be expected to 'make sense' of things without outside help.
The particularly unfortunate thing that happened to me is that my parents took all the frames they grew up with (living in Korea), transported them to the US (a very different place), and then imposed the ones that seemed true to them, onto me. And they employed methods that would have probably worked for a society with strong top-down expectations and hierarchical structure. Rather than the more bottom-up, grassroots, individualist tendencies of capitalist America.
Anyway, the point is. They tried to erase me—wrong time, wrong place—and it didn't go over well.
One of the underlying motivations of feminism and social justice is to assert that women and minorities are sentient, in addition to white men. That they should be allowed to maintain their locus of control and that violating it is unjust.
I think most people agree this is obviously true. Yeah of course they have their own desires and preferences. Yeah of course they can create their own narratives and frames. They're obviously human.
But... they lapse. They forget. Everyone lapses. Everyone forgets. Sometimes, it's on purpose. Sometimes, it's hard to say. (My parents would claim they loved me and wanted the best for me, but they still did the thing.)
When my own frame is one of, "But they're trying to erase me, and this is unjust and unfair and feels awful. And they shouldn't. I have a self too." This is when I lapse. It becomes more important for me to maintain my own sense of self than to maintain theirs.
I'm pretty sure that if I felt what my ex-partners have felt, they also felt their locus of control was being violated. I sensed their desperation to be seen and felt, to exist, to have their desires matter to someone.
It can be an explosive moment to take two beings, whose frames conflict, who feel erased by the other, and bring them so close they actually both feel totally violated and wronged and unloved and unseen. I see this happening all over the place—between friends, coworkers, family, partners. Smaller versions of it, all the time. Occasionally, the large explosions.
I was just a kid, but my internal world was still powerful enough to make my mom scared of me. Her frames felt threatened by mine.
People are scary! (The Truth is scary!)
We don't have a real solution here, but 'consent' is at least ... it's at least something. It's nice to at least act under this pretense because it results in people being more civil and respectful.
I have further thoughts around how Circling fits into all of this, and also about playing the 'prove you're sentient' game. But I'll leave those thoughts for another time.