What Horses Taught Me About Consent

The feminist movement to prevent assault and trauma applies to our animals as well.

Sarah Olson Michel
10 min readApr 23, 2022
Photo by Filip Urban on Unsplash

I learned the lesson most people assigned female at birth learn at a young age: your body is not your own. People tell you how you should dress, what weight and shape is ideal, how long your hair should be and how to style it. They will tell you to sit like a lady, to not take up space, to be sweet and flirtatious but not slutty.

You will be touched — by strangers, by boys you like, by boys you don’t like, by women who think it’s okay because they’re women — without being asked. Men squeezing by you at the grocery store will put their hand on your waist without permission or breathe on your neck as you wait in line. The boy you were excited to go on a date with will frighten you with his forwardness and you will be grateful there happened to be a police officer strolling by who prevented him from going any further despite your protests.

At church they will judge you, they will tell you it was your own fault because you led the boy to sin. Your body led to the boy to sin.

When you occupy a female body, you often feel it’s not your own. Perhaps that’s why I gravitated toward horses from a young age. On their back, I felt free. Independent. If someone reached for me they…