The concept of bodily autonomy, in some shape or form, is a prominent one in every branch of Satanism I can think of, so it’s no surprise it found its way onto my list of personal Satanic Principles. The phrase is now starting to get more attention in the mainstream media, especially with the #MeToo Movement and the renewed struggle for abortion rights (See the new Texas abortion law; we’ve got a lot work to do, y’all).
Obviously, there’s a sexual connotation to the concept. Yes, bodily autonomy means I have the freedom to choose who I have sex with, and it means I have the freedom to deal with the consequences of that sexual freedom in whichever way aligns with my plans for the future and my values. It does not end there. Bodily autonomy means I have the power to choose where I go to the doctor and whether or not to take their advice, what modifications I can make to my body, and who does or does not have the right to touch me. This is, unfortunately, something we don’t teach our children. As a matter of fact, we teach them to the contrary. We’ve all heard the story – or experienced the story – of a young child whose parents pushed them to hug an aunt who smelled funny, a cousin they fought with, or an uncle who gave off creepy vibes at a family gathering. The parents usually pat themselves on the back, praising themselves for teaching their child an important lesson about family and acceptance, or something like that. What they’re actually teaching is that their child doesn’t have real ownership over their own body, and that creepy uncle can do whatever he wants because he is the adult.
More often than not, this attitude toward children’s bodies begins from infanthood. Parents have their baby boys circumcised because their doctors tell them it’s easier than teaching them the importance of cleaning under the foreskin and because they don’t want them to be different from their fathers (Although, I genuinely do not understand that logic; why are fathers and sons comparing each other’s penises?) Baby girls get their ears pierced before they even have any concept of what piercings are or how to take care of them, much less how to take care of themselves.
This lack of awareness of children’s bodily autonomy leads to a lot of the societal problems adults are facing today. I already mentioned rape and abortion rights (which, unfortunately, isn’t only an adult problem), but a disrespect of bodily autonomy is also at the center of the toxic workplaces people are leaving in droves. Employers, especially in the retail and food industries, have come to believe they have a right to their workers’ bodies, both physically and mentally, whenever they want them. Satanists say this is not the case, and the rest of the workforce is coming to agree. There are a lot of issues that fall under the issue of bodily autonomy, but as a whole, this Satanic Principle is about establishing, maintaining, and respecting boundaries.