Is consent shaped by cultural norms?

Is consent shaped by cultural norms?

I read this article the other day and I had to reach out to parents to ask their opinions about it. The article was about the dangers of forcing your child to hug someone. It certainly makes sense as an idea that no one should be forced to do anything. However, the action of hugging has different connotations in various cultures than it may have in North America.

In many cultures, especially European and South Asian-Filipino ones, the act of hugging is a sign of respect among family members, both immediate and extended. Some cultures will go past hugging and enact a double-cheek kiss as a greeting. It is a sign of affection intended to bring loved ones unity and strangers who are close to family a chance to enter their inner circle.

In this way, it could be perceived as an expectation and something that is encouraged. Thus, I believe that the word “force” may not be the most appropriate. I personally have never seen any parent grab their child and force them upon a person so that they can be hugged. I never witnessed not hugging someone being the grounds of a consequence such as taking away electronics or toys.

I have seen parents encourage their children to hug people after they may initially refuse and if they continued to refuse, the behaviour would be excused on behalf of fatigue, illness or temper tantrum.

The author of the mentioned article had an unfortunate case of molestation which coloured this timeless embrace. It is accurate that sexual assault cases occur the most by someone a person knows.

Therefore, is consent truly shaped by cultural norms? I argue that it is not. Hugs are consented by children because even though they are encouraged and recommended, the child gets the ultimate say in the end.

What do you think? Sound off in the comments below!


The Modern Day Fairy Godmother