July 2017
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interrupting the connection between dislike/discomfort and judgement


I'm often taken as judgmental, yet I consider myself one of the least judgmental* people I know. I think this is because of the connection between dislike/discomfort and judgement. For most, the first leads to the second with almost no separation. "I don't like that style of relationship so it's bad and people who live it are bad. I don't like that sex act so it's bad and people who do it are bad. I don't like that school so it's bad and the people who go there are lesser." Etc. But it is possible to separate one's dislike from judgement; it's just a hard habit to develop.

When one's dislike doesn't line up with a social judgement, it is easier for people to take words at face value. If I say cauliflower is gross and I don't want it anywhere near me, and people around me like cauliflower, they may feel disagreement with me or disappointment that we do not share a like for this kind of food, but they probably won't assume that I think they are a bad person for liking cauliflower. But if I express the same sentiment about scat play and they engage in that, they may assume that I do think they are a bad person for liking that, because my dislike** lines up with a social judgement against less common forms of bodily interactions.

I've learned that when I have a dislike that lines up with a social judgement, it may actually be an expression of that social judgement and not my own feelings at all, and I need to check. I used to think it was gross for some people to have armpit hair, and it wasn't until I consciously separated the social judgement I had absorbed from my actual thoughts that I realized I like it on everybody. I used to think that buying any non-necessity as a poor person was irresponsible and wrong, until I consciously separated it from the social judgement I had absorbed and realized that it was oppressive to say that only the wealthy deserve any fun or rest.

This also affects how I interpret other people's words. Sometimes someone will say something that initially sounds to me like they are judging me; but if I trust the person, then instead of taking that next step and assuming that the expression equals a judgement, I will ask them to rephrase or clarify, and if I am still unsure, I will say, "it sounds to me like you are judging me in this way, is that true?" 99% of the time, I am misinterpreting. I know how distant and unloved I used to feel when I just absorbed 'judgements' without checking to see if that is what they were and I would have ended relationships that I now cherish if I hadn't consciously worked on this skill.

So if I ever say to you something like "I feel like you are saying I am a shitty person for doing this thing," I'm not assuming you are actually saying that, or that it is even a possibility within your character. I am not making ANY assumptions as to your intent or true meaning. I'm just expressing my visceral reaction and opening the possibility of ending my discomfort.

There are a few things I judge: supporting oppressions, selfishness, violating consent. If I say that I judge something you do as bad, that does NOT mean I am judging YOU as bad. I don't speak up in order to try to help you be a 'better' person; that would be a waste of our time because you have to do that on your own. I speak up because for me, not objecting*** to the things I judge as wrong would be a violation of my ethics. My fight is with memes; you're just a bystander.

*if I do not state a judgement in the most blunt way possible, you can safely assume I am not making one.
**my first response is ick. But if I had a lover who was into it, I'd be down to try it, at least.
***which I do sometimes, because I haven't infinite time or energy.


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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.