The Right to Control Access to Self

‘Self’ includes one’s body, one’s personal space, one’s personal possessions, and one’s communications, and almost everybody would be better off if we all recognized that we have a right to control access to self.

There are lots of things which are wrong with global society. One of the top problems, in my opinion, is that most of the dominant cultures around the world do not recognize a universal right to control access to self.

One (though just one) manifestation of the denial of this right is rape culture. Rape is a violation of one’s control over sexual access to oneself.

Another manifestation of the denial of this right is the way white people in the United States (and other societies?) regard access to black women’s hair.

Yet another manifestation is the US government and other governments) deciding that they have the right to record, read/listen to, and collect metadata on all ‘private’ electronic communications in the world. If you have been living under a rock during the past few months, you may consult Glenn Greenwald’s reporting on NSA surveillance for The Guardian.

I think that all of these issues are related. Because most people accept rape culture (in fact, some parts of rape culture are still internalized in me), it makes it easier for them to accept a surveillance state. If we lived in a culture which recognized a universal right to control access to self a) it would be harder for those who control the government and corporations to conceive of violating that right in the first place and b) if/when government/corporate leaders do violate the right, the outry would be way, way, way bigger. Likewise, because our own leaders do not respect the right to control access to self, ordinary people are more inclined to violate each other’s right to this control.

Of course, this is such a big problem that most of the time it has to be tackled in pieces. Sometimes, one must focus on corrective rape of asexuals. Sometimes, one must focus on the common tendency to pry into the details trans*people’s genitals. Sometimes, one must focus on police officers who break into homes with neither permission nor warrant. Sometimes, one must focus on a senator who thinks it’s okay for government and corporate insiders to have access to detailed personal information of massive numbers of ordinary citizens, but not okay for said citizens to know that the information is being collected, let alone how the information is being used (I am thinking of Dianne Feinstein, who I deeply regret voting for, and should be taken out of office ASAP).

However, even when taking on the smaller pieces, I think one must be aware that this is part of a greater evil, and that the ultimate solution is to create a consensus among humanity that everyone had a right to control access to self.


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