November 2017
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on tools to create balance: power and immutable-self-determination


Thank you to all those who explained your feelings about BDSM. Reading them helped me to understand it better, I think. I started out thinking that it wasn't ever positive, and through your sharing I learned that it could be. It seems to me that it's a way of using power to create balance -- either between you and your partner through discussing and deciding together, or between you and your public self, or both. Obviously those are positive things; where my personal preference differs is the tool used to create them -- power.

Rather than the tool of power exchange, I prefer to use the tool of immutable-self-determination to create balance (it's ironic that a single word for that concept does not exist). I have the goal of eliminating power/control/authority/roles from my styles of relating. Most people believe that authority is inevitable in human styles of relating; I don't, because I have experienced relating without authority (and I vastly prefer it). I strive to refrain from giving away my authority if I am able to take care of myself, and I strive to refrain from taking responsibility for someone else if ze is able to take care of zirself. I don't want to interact with anyone in a way that uses control, power, authority, or any kind of role -- I want to completely eliminate those from my relationships. This is possible, at least in my reality.

How this relates to [power exchange]*: even if everyone involved wants it, the fact that authority/control is given/taken/used is something I consider a hindrance to equality. Even if the power between a dom and sub is equal, the deliberate USE of power is something I cannot appreciate. The reason I don't participate is not because I see it as unequivocally 'wrong,' but because it falls under the umbrella of relating styles which I have found to be unhelpful for building equality in my life. In my goal for my life, [power exchange] would be a side track that doesn't lead to my goal. Others who do not share the same goal of eliminating use of authority/power exchange/control/roles from their relationships would obviously not be hindered by [power exchange].

I have some friends whom I highly respect who participate in BDSM, and I believe that they have good motives and know what they are doing. I do not have a stereotype of people who participate in BDSM -- I realize that they're just as varied as the rest of humankind. (I do think it is possible to be a feminist and participate in BDSM) Yes, I will feel that those who ONLY have sex with roles are missing out on other possibilities. The same way that I feel that anyone who hasn't tried Bliss pomegranate ice cream is missing out; unless I also say, "people who refuse to try it are [negative adjective]," I am not making a judgment, but rather am making a statement of my faith in how the ice cream is just so good it would appeal to everyone. Objectively, I believe that all paths are equally good, but that does not mean that I feel the same way about each of them. Obviously I'm going to like mine the best. I like it, and I think others would like it, and so I say so.

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In response to being called intolerant and bigoted: I'm not showing "stubborn and complete intolerance of any creed, belief, or opinion that differs from [my] own." I'm not saying you have to agree with me or else you are [negative adjective]. There is nothing intolerant about my beliefs. Being 'tolerant' doesn't mean liking everything the same, or associating with every person on the planet -- it means recognizing each person's journey as valid, which I do. Your way works for you, great. In your reality, BDSM may be the very best and highest action anyone could possibly take -- but it is not, in mine. I don't have to like what you do or consider it the best way, subjectively, in order to be tolerant. Being tolerant means that if I was suddenly given the power to stop anyone from ever using BDSM, I would not do it. If I was suddenly given the power to force every BDSM participant to read my opinions on the subject, I would not do it. A belief in the sacred self-determination of every person is mutually exclusive with intolerance.

comments screened. And no, not because I believe that my opinion is the only one that merits being shown, nor because I'm afraid of how people are going to react (people are generally much more rude privately). Because 1) I prefer one-on-one discussion on this matter for maximum openness/honesty (even the disrespectful kind), and 2) publishing comments is not the purpose of my journal. If you want your opinion to be shown, take it to your own LJ.

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*I previously had used the acronym BDSM in this paragraph and now that I understand it better, know that I was using the wrong word for what I meant. BDSM does not necessarily include power exchange, and I have varied feelings about the elements that don't include power exchange.

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Comments
moonvoice ══╣╠══
belenen ══╣passionate╠══
A Christian could feel that a Jew was missing out on their Christian way of life - but is that really tolerance in action?

Yes. Since the two people do not share the same view, it is likely that they both feel that the other person is missing out -- because that is the literal truth! Both views have aspects that the other doesn't; that's what makes them different. People live in ways that they feel bring them the most benefit, so for them their way has more benefit than any other way and they are likely to feel that.

Is that acceptance of the idea that ... are getting something out of the lifestyle choice which the ... person just can't see?

I DO see that BDSM practitioners get something out of their lifestyle choice which is positive. I said that as clearly as I could. It just wouldn't be good for ME.

Do you really feel that the statement 'yes I will feel that homosexuals are missing out on other possibilities if they mainly experience homosexual sex' is one that - even with the benign wording - sounds tolerant to you? Or open-minded?

YES, it is tolerant. It COULD be open-minded, it depends on the context. For instance, if the speaker admits that they are also missing out on possibilities that a mainly-homosexual lifestyle could bring. It's not any different.

Any choice that is exclusionary MEANS that you are missing out. It's just logic. If I eat only one flavor of ice cream, I am missing out on all the others. Maybe I am totally fine with this because I don't like any others, but nonetheless I am missing out! For instance, I am sure that there are particular things which can only be learned through BDSM, and I am missing out on the chance to learn them. But for me it is worth it to follow a path which resonates more with me, just as I am sure it is worth it for some BDSM practitioners to miss out on the kind of sex that I resonate with.

You speak of BDSM being a persecuted minority who suffer at the hands of law enforcement and authorities. What does that have to do with me not wanting to participate in BDSM because it doesn't suit me? I'm not condoning persecution of BDSM, not even implicitly -- how could it be construed as condoning persecution if I say that it can be a POSITIVE experience for some people?
moonvoice ══╣╠══
belenen ══╣confused╠══
It is not likely, because not everyone feels that their choices are better than other people's just because they enjoy them more.

at no point did I say that my choices are 'better' -- where are you getting that? I don't even BELIEVE in an objective 'better,' so it doesn't make any sense to me.

And by using the phrase 'missing out' I am not seeking to point out any differences, just to explain what could possibly be interpreted as me 'judging' so that if someone would be upset by that I am not guilty of thinking it 'behind their back' so to speak. To me it is not negative but to someone else it might be.

Since the missing out is mutual, I fail to see how it is divisive. I guess it must have a different connotation for you that I just don't see.
moonvoice ══╣╠══
belenen ══╣overwhelmed╠══
I think you see mutuality in the term 'missing out' that I don't see, and don't feel to be true. And in you attempting to project your assumption of that mutuality onto me, I think yeah, you're not getting what I'm trying to say, and won't until you're able to put those assumptions aside.

but... I'm the one who originally used the phrase, so I'm the one who knows what I meant. I meant mutual missing out. I'm not attempting to project my assumption of that mutuality onto you, I am attempting to EXPLAIN my INTENT of expressing mutuality.

I feel you may be making judgements or assumptions that are quite biased when it comes to BDSM

of course I am biased -- I am not talking about something objective, I am talking about my feelings. The goal of this is to express my likes and dislikes, not to decide what is objectively best. Likes and dislikes = bias.

we all make assumptions, but sometimes they really get in the way of clear communication.

indeed.

If it is just the phrasing and you understand my meaning, what verbiage would you suggest? Would you have felt more comfortable if I had included (yet another) disclaimer that I recognize that I am missing out also? I wouldn't have minded doing that, but I included so much else that said the same thing (that I recognize BDSM as a valid, useful method of relating) that it didn't occur to me to do it at that particular juncture. At some point it just gets annoying to disclaim every single phrase to say what I am NOT meaning as well as what I am.
xochitl ══╣╠══
belenen ══╣passionate╠══
Example: I've told my virgin friends that I think they're missing out, but that doesn't mean I don't respect their choice to not have sex. And a few of my friends who eat beef think I'm missing out, but that doesn't mean they're intolerant of my choice to be vegetarian.

Awesome examples, thanks!
on communication, social justice, intimacy, consent, friendship & other relationships, spirituality, gender, queerness, & dreams. Expect to find curse words, nudity, (occasionally explicit) talk of sex, and angry ranting, but NEVER slurs or sexually violent language. I use TW when I am aware of the need and on request.
Expect to find curse words, nudity, (occasionally explicit) talk of sex, and angry ranting, but NEVER slurs or sexually violent language. I use TW when I am aware of the need and on request.