It's a "no" to the action, not to you.
Consent. Consent. Consent.
Since becoming involved with Cuddlist, I have learned a great deal about the importance of consent. I used to think that consent was simply about saying "yes" or "no" to an action, but I have since learned that it is so much more than that. Consent is about communication, and it is perfectly acceptable to change your mind about something at any time. It's just a good way to avoid any kind of awkwardness or misunderstanding.
Sometimes, I don't mind my face being touched. Other times, it's too much. My skin is really sensitive and prone to breakouts, and on those days, it makes me really hate having it stroked. Most of the time though, I do enjoy it. Sometimes I don't mind my butt being touched, however, there are definitely times I need to say no. A client may get too aggressive with it, or I can tell they no longer have platonic intentions. I have had to revoke consent for this action before.
Aside from revoking consent, I have had to flat-out deny things. No, you may not kiss me during a session. No, you may not touch me where my underwear covers. A client may then feel afraid to touch me anywhere, when that is simply not the case. My denial (or yours) of consent for a certain request is just that. It is a "no" to the action and not the person. We make rules for ourselves throughout our lives that determine our own morality and how we react in certain situations. Our culture has taught us that a "no" is a full-on rejection of ourselves. That is just not true.
It always really is just that simple when it comes to consent. I would love to cuddle with you, I just would not enjoy that specific action. I also want you to be able to tell me the same. I always start my sessions off by getting verbal confirmation from my clients that if they ever feel uncomfortable at any time, they need to speak up. I then promise to do the same.
At a Cuddle Party, about half the party is focused on consent training and practicing through different exercises. We encourage someone to ask for consent through being very specific about what action they would like to do.
"May I rub your arm from your shoulder to elbow?" instead of "Can I touch your arm?"
If the person being asked says, "No." the person who asked to perform the action is taught to say, "Thank you for taking care of yourself."
In a cuddle session, no permission this specific is needed. When we sit down at the start of our session, we will go over some general boundaries. As long as those are abided by, everything else is fair game. Please, do not be afraid to touch me. I love cuddling!