How is Professional Snuggling Related to Fighting Rape Culture?

Professional snuggling is a platonic service and this post in no way condones offering sexual services here at Snuggle with Sam. That said, I do realize that working with a professional snuggler can have a very real impact with how we interact with other people, and that can include people that we may be seeing sexually.

So I'll be the one to make this connection: professional snuggling is a safe way for people to understand how consent is supposed to work, and professional snugglers are empowered to set their boundaries and to encourage their clients to communicate their boundaries. We do that with simple check-ins-- "Is this position comfortable for you?"-- to asking for awareness when our boundaries are crossed by accident-- "Can you please be more mindful with where your hands are?"

Unfortunately, there's many different ways rape can look, and I think too many people see rape as one specific thing: someone forcing sex on someone even after the person has explicitly said no. That is the most basic example of what rape is, but it encompasses so many more situations. But teaching all of those situations and why they're not okay is exhausting and less effective than expressing what is okay and encouraged as often as possible.

Everything about professional snuggling is under the arrangements of consent. Though we are a platonic service, many people define "platonic" differently-- or just flat-out don't understand what that means. We offer something that most recognized therapeutic professionals won't-- comforting touch therapy. That said, your snuggler also has his or her own boundaries for themselves as far as what you may touch and how.

I make sure to set that standard right away with my clients-- I give them permission to ask for a different position, even if they're unsure what else they would like to try, I thank them when they voice wanting to try a different cuddle position, I ask them if I can touch their hair or if a position is comfortable with them to encourage them to ask questions as well, I say "no" or "I'd prefer not to" if they make a request I would like to not do, I tell them it's okay for them to say "no" if I ask them if we can do something they would rather not do, etc. In general, I feel that my sessions encourage this communication and clear expectations of what a session is supposed to be like.

What if a client doesn't abide to this? The session ends abruptly. All my clients know that I check in with a remote supervisor that has access to the local authorities' phone numbers. If I need to report something that happened that caused such a problem, they will also be involved. Most people do not want to be involved with a situation like this if they are coming to see a professional snuggler-- they want to feel welcomed and cared for, not on edge about stepping the wrong line-- so they will abide by the codes of conduct we expect.

But, quite frankly, I feel all situations should be approached this way, professional context or not. It's 2017 right now-- all of us have the local authorities at our fingertips (but it's nice to have someone watching your back whenever possible). Not being afraid to escalate a situation if we feel we need to by involving someone else is going to change how people interact with us. If we hold people to a higher standard for things that are not sexual situations such as a snuggling session, then we can play a part in creating a world where people are asking us what our boundaries are and being able to express them back and expecting them to be honored as a default.