Tickling or Torture: What It Teaches Us About Consent

By Alyssa Bluhm

I have a vivid memory of being tickled when I was about five years old. My dad and my uncle tickled me to the floor, sandwiching me between the wall and the dining room table. While my uncle tickled me, my dad pretended to pull Cheerios out of my bellybutton and strawberries out of my strawberry-blonde hair, slurping them up like a delicious bowl of cereal. That was one of my dad’s favorite jokes when I was young, and it’s still a fond memory. Mostly.

I also remember that, as the tickling continued, my laughter turned to tears of pain, that my ribs felt close to cracking with every gasping breath, that I felt cornered and helpless, and that nothing I did would get them to stop.

Photo by Caroline Hernandez

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