The importance of consent in ASMR videos and live sessions

Abby Lee Hood is a Nashville-based freelance writer who recently wrote a terrific article for MTV news titled, “ASMR IS NORMALIZING CONSENT, ONE WHISPER AT A TIME.”

Her article highlights how consent not only applies to romantic and non-romantic relationships, but also to ASMR.   Consent is an important part of ASMR role-play videos and real world ASMR sessions because feeling safe and at ease is probably critical to the relaxing feeling of ASMR.

Abby Lee cites data in the article about consent and ASMR which was collected by MTV from over 100 participants.  She has shared the data with me and given me permission to share it here.  Most of the responses focus on ASMR videos, but the incorporation of consent would also be very relevant to live or person-to-person ASMR sessions.

Below are the data from the MTV survey, followed by links to her article and her website.

Total participants: 118

Survey Q#1: Do you watch ASMR?

  • Yes: 93%
  • No: 6%
  • Other or No response: 1%

Survey Q#2: Are you familiar with the topic of consent? i.e. enthusiastic consent in sexual or non-sexual situations?

  • Yes: 91%
  • No: 5%
  • Other or No Response: 4%

Survey Q#3: If you are a fan of ASMR, have you noticed how often an ASMRtist (the video creator) asks for consent before “touching” a viewer?  Particularly in role play videos.

  • Yes: 69%
  • No: 29%
  • Other or No Response: 2%

Survey Q#4: Does an ASMRtist asking consent to “touch you” make you feel comfortable and/or relaxed?

  • Yes: 57%
  • No: 25%
  • Other or No Response: 18%

Survey Q#5: Do you feel an ASMRtist asking for consent is important/helpful?

  • Yes: 53%
  • No: 34%
  • Other: 13%

Survey Q#6: If this has stuck out to you, or if an ASMRtist asking your consent has positively impacted you, can you explain why? Or how it made you feel?  

*Open text question, sample replies below*

  • It reminds me of my own self autonomy. Also, it helps to remind myself to continuously practice asking for consent in my own life.
  • I’ve been noticing this a lot more recently, and it’s a very comforting thing! I really like how it’s normalizing consent for non-sexual things as well.
  • I guess I haven’t really thought about it before, but now I do realize that it contributes to a relaxed atmosphere in the video. It does stand out when someone doesn’t ask for consent – that usually feels kind of weird and uncomfortable.
  • Due to years of struggling with insomnia, I watch AMSR nearly nightly. I notice every time the artist asks for consent. It makes me feel seen and heard (even though I’m clearly not) and allows me to relax. It normalizes consent as a sign of respect and I covet this in my daily life.
  • It’s weird since they’re not actually touching – though I do see it as a nice gesture
  • It’s considerate. Touching is usually a part of personal attention ASMR videos, which are supposed to be about making the viewer feel special, honored, revered. Consent is necessary to create that feeling.
  • It makes me feel safer somehow. Like they care about me and my opinion/autonomy even though they are not physically there
  • Jellybean Green does this a lot in her videos. It makes me feel safe.
  • It was a surprise the first time I heard it, I didn’t think it was necessary, but it felt nice and now I just see it as something normal.
  • It just feels extra cozy and reassuring I don’t mind if they don’t
  • Like there is no gray area. I find that comforting.
  • made me feel more connected to the video
  • It produces an atmosphere of safety even though not physically there. It builds trust and makes it easier for a viewer to succumb to relaxation and/or tingles.
  • It is relaxing and actually enhances the tingles and makes the experience feel more immersive, and adds a sense of feeling safe and cared for.
  • As a survivor of sexual violence, it’s comforting – ASMR is a safe space for me, and asking consent just makes it safer.
  • I do note when artists ask if it will be okay, etc. and it’s a nice, comforting feeling just like the rest of the personal attention
  • I sometimes find it weird particularly where in a real life situation touching would be expected such as a hairdresser or makeup artist.
  • The only ASMRtist I’ve seen do this is Karuna Satori, in multiple of her videos. I was really surprised when I first heard her do this but it was a really good surprise I think, because any conversations about consent are good and useful.
  • When they ask, it makes my brain tingle a bit more, which is the only reason I noticed it
  • It made me feel like I’m in a safe place where I’m still in control
  • I can’t really explain why. I think it’s because it is so gentle/kind to ask first. And this ‘gentleness’ helps with the trust you build up with an ASMRtist. And when I feel more comfortable, it makes it easier for me to relax and enjoy a video.
  • I noticed it was very nice (albeit unnecessary since they are not *actually* touching me). I also found it contributed to the warm and loving atmosphere.
  • As a rape survivor, it allows me to come to terms with the fact that not everyone is “out to get me(?)”, i feel more comfortable talking about consent in emotionally heightened contexts because it doesn’t seem as “unsexy” as perhaps first thought, people talk about it as if it ruins the/a moment but i’ve found the opposite, asmr has given me emotional tools to take into the real world, in a way? and made me more present and in tune with others, thus making me less vulnerable, i feel less cluttered with asmr in my life!
  • Makes me feel more relaxed and experience the Tingles more
  • Not really one way or another
  • It makes me feel considered and comfortable
  • Being taken serious, my boundaries are accepted
  • I feel indifferent about it.
  • ASMR has always been about making you feel safe and relaxed, and when they ask you for consent to touch you, it adds to that element of feeling safe.
  • By ask for consent, it makes it feel more real and it’s easier to relax and enjoy what they are doing.
  • It made me feel safe and supported and like my consent really mattered. I know that it’s a prerecorded video, but it feels wonderful that the thought is there
  • I feel paid attention to and cared about. And the process of asking for consent can sometimes play into the describing what will happen in the role play – which itself gives me ASMR
  • I think I trust the ASMRtist more when this person asks for consent

Survey Q#7: Anything else on this subject you’d like to mention?

*Open text question, sample replies below*

  • Consent is mandatory!!!!
  • For me ASMR is a very personal experience. This is why it takes a while for me to get used to a new ASMRtist (if I even take the time to do so). Familiarity and comfort is a very important factor to me in AMSR. If the feeling comes from motherly care – isn’t a mother someone who knows you best (and has the best intentions for you)? If it is a stranger giving you this care, it is even more essential that they prove that they are not threatening in any way. Asking for consent is a major factor in this (as well as being calm, kind and soothing).
  • For me personally, whether they ask for consent or not doesn’t affect me, because I chose to watch the video. Similar to going to actually get my hair done, I wouldn’t be upset if the ASMRtist didnt ask permission to do my hair first, because I chose to make an appointment and it’s already understood to be fully consensual between both parties.
  • I don’t think consent in a video has any meaning
  • I don’t really think the ties between asmr and consent are that strong and generally don’t think the subject should really be examined this “deeply”, because it’s not really necessary. People seek out asmr videos intentionally on their own, which is consent enough. If you’re no longer feeling enthusiastic for an asmr video, you can pause it or close the tab.
  • I feel like consent in ASMR role play is important to encourage what consent is supposed to look like in real life situations. However, I rarely focus on what the ASMRtist is saying, so I don’t feel like it’s important to my actual ASMR experience itself.
  • I feel like I’m giving my consent by even searching out the videos so I am not bothered if they explicitly ask or not
  • I feel like the consent thing is asked typically because the role plays are typically of people in power positions. For example, doctors who need to ask patients consent/highlight what they are doing to put the patient at ease. Therefore in order to successfully role play this element is included.
  • I generally have an idea if there will be “touching” in the video based on the topic (ie doctor role play), However, If a video has ever made me uncomfortable (for whatever reason) it’s been pretty easy to stop the vid and move on to another.
  • I like that this is becoming more prevalent because asking for consent to touch someone should be the norm and second nature to everyone.
  • I never think about the concept of consent with ASMRtists because I only view ASMRtists who I trust or feel comfortable with. Otherwise I immediately don’t watch it.
  • I think a small intro of what asmr is at the top of this form would not go amiss. It’s possible survey-takers may have had exposer to asmr and not known it
  • I think it’s unrealistic for an ASMR artist to ask to “touch” you if it’s a roleplay that would normally require touching i.e. a make up artist. You wouldn’t expect a make up artist to always ask for permission to touch you while doing your make up. It’s an implied consent when you seek their services. I also wouldn’t expect a friend to ask for a hug etc. They would just hug you. The only time a roleplay would be crossing that line would be in a situation where touching is unsual i.e. a bank teller
  • I think when you go for a hair cut, massage, or to the dentist / doctor in real life, the fact that you are there voluntarily means that you have effectively given your consent to be touched / examined and this would also apply to most ASMR roleplay type videos. I don’t ever remember a hair dresser asking me if it’s OK for them touch my hair for example, so I wouldn’t expect someone making a hair cut roleplay video to ask for consent. I think consent would be more important if the person needs to do something unexpected to you, or something which could be uncomfortable or painful.
  • If the asmrtists that I follow (primarily on Instagram) I haven’t noticed this kind of consent language. It’s so important though!!!!!
  • In face touching videos they don’t usually ask, I think it’s more common in roleplays, and I’m okay with both ways.
  • In many ways, I feel like the ASMR community is at the forefront of consent normalization. So many ASMRtists ask before “touching,” use gender-neutral language, and allow for the viewer to be gay/straight/bi/trans, etc just with their wording. It makes me hope for a world in which we all act this way.
  • In Real life same situations are extremely tingly
  • Karuna satori is a good example for this
  • Normalising asking for consent is great
  • This is a very intriguing and important topic
  • Though I think consent is important to any relationship, it hasn’t affected me negatively if I watch a video with touching without asking, so long as the ASMRtist stays within the boundaries (which I have never had a creator cross that line.)
  • To me, consent in real-life scenarios is crucial, but ASMR is more about the sounds than the actual content. For instance, I enjoy mouth sounds and hair being brushed, so the dialogue is fairly irrelevant (thus, the concept of consent is irrelevant). Again, just my personal preference.
  • While I haven’t noticed whether or not the ASMRtist has asked for consent in every video, I do believe it’s important considering the culture in today’s society. It’s important that we are all considering one anothers experiences and feelings. I think it’s beneficial for the ASMRtist to ask for consent.

Read Abby Lee’s article about ASMR and consent, and learn more about her:

Learn more about ASMR:

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This post brought to you by ASMR University.  A site with the mission of increasing the awareness, understanding, and research of the Art and Science of Autonomous Sensory Meridian Response.

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