SHORT STORY: “Not Paid To Like You”

The prompt for this story was the title. It conjured a couple of vignettes that I then stitched into this story. One or two points aren’t realistic, including the part with the main prompt! Specifically, in that a good sex worker would keep her thoughts well hidden, rather than discuss them as my central character does.

That said, I believe in the message about consent and compassion, and I hope the story entertains.

“Not Paid To Like You”

*

She found him repugnant.

Not his body. Despite the crude tattoos, the rough, calloused hands and coarse accent and manner, he always presented himself immaculately at her door. Always wore a good suit, clean, freshly shaved, a hint of aftershave and deodorant. The money folded neatly, ready in his hand. Even his cock seemed perfectly sculpted for her pleasure, she thought, those first few times. No, not his body.

It was his views, his beliefs, that offended. Gays were “alright as long as they kept it to themselves”, lesbians just “hadn’t met the right man yet.” She told him one time that she was a lesbian. “Try saying that with your mouth full of my cock,” he scoffed. She got on her knees and did it. He laughed, and she smiled up at him. Immigrants were “stealing the jobs of honest, hard-working Brits”; the unemployed were “scroungers”. He held his tongue about sex workers, and was nothing but courteous while with her, but all the same his language showed his contempt.

His sessions feel into a routine. He told her early on, bluntly, that he wanted a “whore” (again, spoken without any malice, but the word choice was plain) to do what his wife would not. Sometimes he only wanted one or the other, but it usually meant a blow job and anal sex. And, like so many, he would talk and she would listen. He would talk about his wife, how he loved her, how he worked hard to see her happy and taken care of. She never asked, but he volunteered the information: “She knows I see whores. She’s just glad it’s one night I won’t want her to put out for me.”

Eventually, he cottoned on that she didn’t share his beliefs about most things. As he lay beside her after buggering her, he suddenly mused, “You don’t like me very much, do you?” She rested her hand on his, “Honey, I’m not paid to like you. Just fuck you. And I’m happy to do that.” He laughed, and booked another session.

* * *

Once, her girlfriend Jane asked her why she would see someone like that.

“Because he’s a good client,” she said.

“But you don’t even like guys,” Jane protested.

“I like their money. And I could never work in a bank like you: one of us has to earn an honest living!” Jane insisted, so she explained, “I do it for the money, but I’m happy to do it even if I don’t like it. And he makes it easy to be happy. Don’t you have clients who are nasty, rude or hard to deal with? And clients who are really easy to deal with and make your job easy? Well, he’s a good client like that.”

* * *

She recognised his number, and answered with a cheerful, “Hi!”

His voice was different. Tearful.

“She left me. She’s fucking left me,” he blurted.

“I’m sorry to hear that,” she said, “Do you want to talk about it at our next session?”

“That’s just it. I don’t want to lose the kids. I can’t see you again. I’ve got to clean up my act. I’m sorry to cancel on you, but I… I just can’t.”

“That’s okay, honey,” she cooed, “I’ll see you again when this has all blown over, eh? My arse will be waiting for you!”

“No. I’m sorry, and thanks for everything you’ve done for me, but it’s over.” She let him hang up.

Jane said he deserved to be left. She disagreed, “I won’t gloat. However offensive his views, he’s heartbroken. I wasn’t paid to like him. And I’m not paid to hate him either.”

She cleared the slot in her calendar, and waited for a caller.

Thought Experiment: Giving Rocqui A Gender

I like thought experiments. I think they can be useful for expressing or exploring ideas in science (famously, a thought experiment about bouncing balls on trains is used to explain the theory of relativity, for example), philosophy, and ethics.

They can also be used to unravel the assumptions behind a position on social sciences, philosophy and ethics, where asking people to imagine scenarios that may or may not be possible (and may very well not be ethical) to reproduce in real life can prompt a deeper exploration of a person’s principles or motivations.

One area in which I find this especially intriguing is gender. From my real life perspective, I accept trans people as their experienced rather than assigned-at-birth gender (that is, trans women are women; trans men are men; genderqueer are in-between and genderfluid is a moving target). Likewise, cis people are their experienced gender, not defined by their assigned-at-birth (even though it matches).

However, to get to the root of what people think is important about gender, you can ask all sorts of hypotheticals. Usually these are posed with someone who is gendered one way or the other and say, “What if you change this, or that?”

I wonder, though, about something a bit more thought-experiment-y. A bit more science-fiction-y. A bit less possible (even if the other hypotheticals are unethical to try, some of them have been tried). Indeed, a bit Rocky Horror Picture Show…

Suppose I’ve created a new life form (let’s call hir “Rocqui” to honour the reference above) that is externally indistinguishable from a human, except that zie has no secondary sex characteristics, or genitals, or reproductive organs. My creation is absolutely without the features that would allow anyone to tell. Let’s even postulate that the skeleton is ambiguous, and other beneath-the-surface features are absent, that might lead one to conclude one way or the other. Being a completely new form of life, Rocqui also has no chromosomes as we would recognise them.

I’ve created this person in my Evil Mad Scientist (EMS) Lab. “It’s aliiiiive!” I cry as zie stirs (my excitement making me forget to use personal rather than impersonal pronouns). But, I have a chance as hir body becomes vivid and functional, to make alterations to the structures of the body and its functions. I could make changes later, if necessary, of course.

Now, picture the scene and answer the following:

  1. What pronouns would you use for Rocqui?
  2. If you were to choose a gender for Rocqui, how would you do so, and what would you change?
  3. What is the smallest amount of change would be sufficient for you to accept Rocqui as a particular gender? Are there multiple ways of producing a “minimum change” that would allow the same assumption (e.g. for male, perhaps only adding a penis, OR only adding testicles, would be enough, and nothing else would be needed)

My answers are simple: assuming that Rocqui has been imbued with knowledge of the concepts of gender and language, and understanding of the world, then I shall ask hir how zie wishes to be addressed, and ask hir what gender zie feels hirself to be – or that zie desires to be. The changes I would make would, again, be only those requested by Rocqui (who knows everything there is to know about gendered differences of the body, just as I, the Mad Scientist, would: zie learned it all from my knowledge). Rocqui’s body, Rocqui’s rules.

If Rocqui’s gender is based on what Rocqui says zie is, or believes hirself to be, then no changes need to be made to accept hir body as male or female, or whatever zie wishes it to be. That’s all there is to it.

This leads to a follow-up question. If Rocqui declares hirself to be one gender, does that declaration preclude requests for hir body to be given features associated with a different gender? What if zie declares hirself female and requests a completely masculinised body structure? What if zie declares hirself male but asks to be made completely feminine?

I confess to feeling uneasy about granting such a wish. I am less concerned about granting “I’m female, give me a man’s body” than I am the reverse. This realisation is challenging to me, and my self-perception as open-minded and accepting of trans rights. The fact that there is an asymmetry about the genders and the amount of unease they cause me is also a question that I should investigate in terms of my own assumptions and motivations.

Partly I think it is to do with perception of body variations: a flat-chested woman seems easier to accept than a man with a big, round, bosom (even though I want bigger and rounder breasts for my male body – huh). Part of it perhaps follows on from my own body vs identity issues and that I am in a male body and yet frustrated by feminine leanings as well. Part of the general unease with the idea may well be because I can imagine the difficulties Rocqui might then face (and if you can’t, then maybe this interactive story can help).

It’s unlikely that the people I really want to address these questions will bother, of course. I want them to, because I want to make explicit the assumptions they make about gender, and about gendered bodies. I’ve tried to discuss fearlessly my own assumptions and causes here, and have probably missed some anyway. But they are based intrinsically on Rocqui’s personhood and self-awareness. That’s what I hope to centre. Not bodies, but people.

Editing is a political act: changes to reply to Observer transphobe free speech letter

So, last week’s letter defending the right of transphobes and whorephobes to impose themselves on audiences at will received a response.

It turned out that the transphobes’ letter had been edited, and the same is true of the response. I am willing to believe now that the editing of both letters was done in the Observer’s offices, and that therefore the signatories of first letter didn’t know that its transphobic and whorephobic rant would be watered down; similarly, the sentiments of the reply have been watered down.

I thought it might be illuminating to go through the changes to the reply, and see what impact they have on the meaning.

Here’s the changes I noticed as I went through the letter in its original and published versions:

– – –

Opening & 2nd para rephrased.

Cut: concerned about politics, not just inaccuracies, in the transphobes’ letter.

Added: clarification of some of the inaccuracies, specifically of Greer and Smurthwaite incidents.

Cut:

We believe that this is part of a worrying pattern of misrepresentation and distortion that serves to benefit some of the most privileged and powerful outside of and within feminism at the expense of the most marginalised and excluded.

 

In the published version, para 3 is re-ordered to follow para 4 of the original. Also, the 3rd, 4th and 5th paras are combined into a single paragraph.

3rd para.

Cut: “The letter also works to obfuscate and distract from real and crucial struggles that are currently taking place on campuses around the issue of freedom of speech.”

Cut: “Many academic staff are deeply complicit in these processes; the signatories of the original letter would do well to reflect on this.”

4th para:

Altered:

“without being held accountable or challenged for their complicity in systems which are damaging to those whose lives they speak about.”

rephrased as

“without being held accountable or challenged for their complicity in oppressive systems”

Cut: “No one is entitled to disseminate their views on university campuses without opposition.”

Cut: “Decisions taken to exclude or counter some voices from some discussions at some specific times and places are democratically made, politically legitimate and do not amount to censorship.”

5th para:

Cut:

There is a long history of women positioned on the margins of feminist discourse engaging critically with mainstream feminist ideas and politics and the damage they can do.

Cut:

ideologies which not only perpetuate hateful myths about trans people and sex workers but also have the potential to influence policy precisely due to the platform(s) of those who advocate them. Some of these myths – the ‘toilet panic’ around trans people, the claim that all opposition to sex work abolition is funded by a ‘pimp lobby’-

Which leaves only the following,

It is disappointing to see so many people with institutional power and prominent platforms take sides against grassroots feminist organising, including transfeminisms and sex workers’ rights. There are some very harmful ideologies circulating under the banner of feminist “debate”, some aimed at removing vulnerable people from public space and discourse.

Final para:

Cut:

We will continue to organise against those debates and the politics they promote, and we call on other feminists to support us.

– – –

I noticed as I went through these cuts that almost all reference to the political concerns were removed, and similarly, all reference to the direct and indirect harms that transphobic and whorephobic politics and policies cause. Anything referring to actual people being harmed was trimmed away by the editor. Similarly, discussion of privilege and marginalisation disappeared.

Only when workers’ rights were compared with trans rights and sexworkers’ rights do we see a substantial passage remaining, and the key point of that (that academics and co-signatories of the original letter are complicit in the erosion of university workers’ rights) was also cut.

The effect of the Observer’s cuts is implicitly to keep this all in the realm of the theoretical, a “debate” between two more-or-less equal sides, rather than a struggle of a marginalised groups to survive against an assault on their existence and their presumed right to exist.

I am willing to accept that, if this letter is to be published in the print version as well as online, that it needs to be cut for space. The same no doubt was considered true of the transphobes’ letter last week.

However, the choice of what to cut, and how to cut it is down to the editor. The substance, and the core meaning, of the original version of the reply was, “This does actual harm to living people. Stop it.” It is precisely this message that the editor chose to remove or weaken, in deference to theoretical debate. The radical, even revolutionary, language is left out in favour of a sweet, liberal, middle-class acceptable “debate” over “free speech”.

No one who can be silenced gets to be no-platformed

Here’s something that puzzles me about the “No platform = Silencing” thing.

In order for a person to be subject to a “no platform” policy, their views must already be well-known.

It is a basic tenet that “No-one has a right to have an audience”, however, I am bound to say that everyone has a right to an audible voice. The thing is, the history of mass media, from the printing press onwards, has been a history of the ever-widening accessibility of audibility in public debate.

The printing press made possible the widespread leafleting by the Levellers and was the foundation of radical thought ever since (it’s no accident that Marx, Engels, Lenin, Trotsky and more were all authors for journals, usually self-published). These days, we have not only the internet, but widespread free blogging platforms that, if you can be arsed to go and learn SEO, will make your voice audible far and wide and easily, if you have something to say.

Nobody is obliged, if they are disinclined to, to click on your link. If they choose not read, you aren’t silenced. You’re just not interesting enough.

But, in order to become a subject of a “no platform” policy, then someone somewhere has read what you wrote, or heard what you said, and repeated it to enough people that they can debate on whether that is something they want to hear more of. (Sort of like the Official Secrets Act: enough people have to know what the secret is to decide that it is officially a secret!) It is most certainly not a case of certain views not being made accessible: if people want to know what you have to say, and want to hear it, then by virtue of the fact that you have a high enough profile to attract such negative reactions, then they will be able to find it. Unless you decide you don’t want people to find it.

To be silenced is to be cut off from the means to be audible, and the typical methods of silencing are that the consequences of speaking up are intolerable. Perhaps to a middle-class, educated, media pundit, being told, “We don’t want to read your writing or hear you speak” is deemed intolerable: after all, public speaking and public writing is how they make their living. But we live in a world with a plurality of views, and for every group who says “No”, there will be others who like what you have to say.

Meanwhile, whorephobes say they want to arrest anyone who pays for a sex worker’s services. Transphobes say they want to refuse protection to trans women, and have attempted to have trans women fired from jobs.

Someone’s being silenced here, but it’s not the bigots who are no-platformed. In order to be no-platformed, you have to be important enough. You get to be that important because you are not silent, and people are well aware of what you believe already.

The non-binary of D/s

Last week, Jemima @ Sometimes It’s Just a Cigar wrote about the non-binary-ness of D/s: the false binaries of how D/s is presented. I had a few thoughts about ways in which that could be approached. She, of course, brought other ideas and created a great post about it.

Xiao Yingtai discussed D/s as containing koans (Buddhist spiritual conundrums) which also dissolves the duality or binary-ness of D/s. That post was part of an exchange of ideas and blog posts that developed looking into ideas of submissive power. The questions going back and forth are summed up in Jemima’s piece when she writes, “Its one of those false binaries again, as if power is in limited supply, and can only be held by one person ever.” (And references Yingtai’s piece already linked).

Jemima talks about how:

I don’t want to upset anyone, but spoiler, subs go online looking for Doms who will do the necessary to get them off. Yup, we use them, then cast them aside like a used condom, sad, lonely and no use to anyone.

If I am online looking for a Dom to play with I am exercising power, I am in control of my needs, my wants, and my sexuality. That in the moment of playing he has a role where he controls the play no more means I am powerless than when I get on a bus. I may not be the driver, but the driver is taking me where I want to go.

In my side of the Sub power blog exchange, I wrote:

Strip away the bondage, the SM, and look at what’s left.

You, as my Submissive, can choose how you respond to my expression of desire or need

the important stuff happens in your head, as the Submissive. My orders only mean something if they mean something to you.

But where is the Dominant in all this? I am a passive observer, providing the nudge to set it all in motion.

* * *

There is more to D/s than power, and there are more ways in which it is non-binary. As Jemima says, we don’t mean “switch” here, and the term is questionable anyway (for instance, I identify as a Dom who enjoys submitting from time to time; the “switch” label makes me uncomfortable).

One way in which D/s is not binary is just that there are so many different modes of being Dominant or Submissive. So many roles or relationships that can be described, and a plethora of terms to cover the nuances that we, as Doms or Subs, bring to the broad categories. “He’s a Daddy Dom”, “She’s a Mistress”, “He’s a Painslut”, “She’s a Service Sub”, and so on and so forth.

Any act can be Dom, Sub, or neither, depending on the dynamic, on the needs of that particular day, or a myriad other things. I brush my partner’s hair: is it an act of Submissive service, an act of Domly grooming and control, or just to get her ready for her presentation at work and no D/s at all? What if I feel it’s an act of service, but she feels it’s an act of controlling and grooming her? [EDIT TO ADD 18/02/15: On re-reading this, I realised “controlling and grooming” could have a double meaning here: I mean “grooming” as in “making look pretty” or “taking care of”, and NOT as in “psychologically manipulating”] Where then is this binary of Dominant or Submissive, if a simple act can mean so many different relationships?

I’ve discussed how the same elements of my personality that drive my Domly Domness are also present in the ways that I submit. It makes no sense to draw a clear, distinct, line between them (although I do use different names and even feel like a different person, when I’m online and choosing one over the other – see also the Vannie description). There is more variation and difference within Doms and Subs, than between the two: just like any division of humanity, really.

And that’s the point: D/s isn’t some special species (or two separate species) but people, being people, in their various chaotic and ordered ways. There’s no magic to it, no essential basis in the fabric of reality that produces it: it’s a thing that happens within us and between us, because we choose it and it answers something. D/s is as binary as humanity, and there’s literally billions of humans out there.

Besides: when you get two kinksters together, you will have a minimum of three definitions of kink in play. Binary? Impossible!

Elust 67: with Sub Power, and various types of wetness

rebelbowheader
Photo courtesy of Rebels Notes

Welcome to Elust #67 -

The only place where the smartest and hottest sex bloggers are featured under one roof every month. Whether you’re looking for sex journalism, erotic writing, relationship advice or kinky discussions it’ll be here at Elust. Want to be included in Elust #68? Start with the rules, come back March 1st to submit something and subscribe to the RSS feed for updates!

For our UK readers, we would like to make a special request that you take a moment and fill out this petition to repeal the new censorship laws.

~ This Month’s Top Three Posts ~

Yes, Squirting is Real (And it’s not pee.)

These men make me SO angry

Still Kinky After All These Years

 

~ Featured Post (Molly’s Picks) ~

When It Rains
You want me to read what?

 

~ Readers Choice from Sexbytes ~

*You really should consider adding your popular posts here too*
Due to technical difficulties there is no Readers Choice selection this month

All blogs that have a submission in this edition must re-post this digest from tip-to-toe on their blogs within 7 days. Re-posting the photo is optional and the use of the “read more…” tag is allowable after this point. Thank you, and enjoy!

 

Thoughts & Advice on Kink & Fetish

How to Make Time for Kinky Fuckery
Submissive Power Is Hot Stuff
Topping from the Bottom
Daddy
Property Milestone
Dead Heat
Submissive power and the storms of life
I Talk A Lot, But Not About That
I Just Want To Be Me
What I Get Out Of Locking A Man in Chastity
BDSM and pick-up artists

Sex News, Opinion, Interviews, Politics & Humor

Socks and Sex
Marsala? The Color of My Panties? Who Knew?

Erotic Fiction

Short Strokes: Molasses Makes Me Horny
12 Step Homeopathic Remedy for Scorned Lovers
Alice’s Wonderland
Feel His Breath On Me
Out For A Walk
Playing in the Band
Braille
Coming Pretty
The Fall
Erotica After Hours
Dancing in the Dark

Thoughts & Advice on Sex & Relationships

Make Love to Me
I Used to Fake Orgasms. This is Why I Stopped

Poetry

Brigitta – A Lusty Limerick

Erotic Non-Fiction

With a very sharp knife
black bra and g-string
Debut
Meeting Slave Olive for a Cash Point Meet
LachrymoseWhen Two Doms Play…Fuck Tender!

 

 

 

ELust Site Badge

Free Speech and the fascistic TERF

CONTENT NOTE: transphobic, whorephobic violence

Sticking my head above the parapet here for a quick comment on the “Free Speech for Whorephobes” letter published in the Guardian today.

The letter has been signed by a bunch of academics, columnists and campaigners who believed Kate Smurthwaite’s version of how come she lost a booking. A version which invented a protest, out of thin air and a single tweet from someone at the other end of the country!

Nevertheless, I wanted to pick up a particular point. Well, two, I suppose.

Firstly, the letter says:

“No platforming” used to be a tactic used against self-proclaimed fascists and Holocaust-deniers.

If your views are being treated the same way as fascists and Holocaust-deniers’, then perhaps you ought to take a good, long, hard look at the ways in which those views resemble the views of fascists and Holocaust-deniers. Perhaps you ought to take a clearer look at the consequences for others that your views and suggested policies towards certain types of people might have. Perhaps you ought to consider how your “arguments critical of the sex industry and of some demands made by trans activists” are in fact nothing more than good, old-fashioned, Patriarchal hegemony at work.

Secondly, the letter says:

The feminists who hold these views have never advocated or engaged in violence against any group of people.

This is what is known technically as a “terminological inexactitude”. More colloquially, we call it a lie.

Oh, sure, you’ll never hear the words “kill prostituted women” (that’s the term these people like to use for sex workers, regardless of how sex workers themselves like to be called) or “murder the mutilated male” (again, their language for trans woman) from them. But you do hear them celebrate driving sex workers’ rights activists and trans people to attempt suicide. You do hear them, or their followers, say things like, “people like you should kill yourselves” to those people. You certainly see them use every means of emotional and social violence to silence and dehumanise the women (cis and trans) who dare to challenge their privileged position in the hierarchy.

And they advocate policies that are designed to make trans women and sex workers easier to kill, both by dehumanising the marginalised groups and by making circumstances easier for abusers and murderers to target trans women and sex workers.

They literally want other people (and typically, men – anyone spot the problem there?) to do their dirty work (their brutal, bloody, work) for them. Or, their followers. I have been told by more than one trans woman instances of physical violence being enacted against them by feminist-identified women.

Like the anti-abortion campaigners in the US who cry, “abortion is murder!” but then throw up their hands in horror when one of their followers goes out and murders an abortion doctor, claiming, “We never advocated that!” the signatories of the letter, by putting their names to the text of the letter, are creating the conditions that encourage violence against marginalised women. Trans women and sex workers are women.

Early indications from “36 Questions” online dating experiment

For the past couple of weeks, I have been following a simple formula for my first contact messages on Plenty of Fish, which is a freebie (i.e. ad-funded) dating website. I used the “36 questions to fall in love” concept as a starting point to create a new profile text, and to concoct basic opening messages using the idea that using questions from the early stages of the experiment would generate the beginnings of the intimacy process, just like it did in the experiment.

With Valentine’s Day about an hour away (less by the time I finish writing this piece), I figure it’s time to look at some early results.

I keep a simple spreadsheet of my attempts at online dating, mainly so I don’t accidentally re-message someone who’s already rejected me, and also in the hopes that I might spot trends in those who do or don’t get back to me (or even bother to log back in). That made it easy to keep track of the POF messages I sent (although I wasn’t as scientific as I intended: I should have recorded for each one which questions I chose, but didn’t).

I wrote that PoF seems to demand money to see who’s viewed you. Turns out, this is not true (or no longer true). I just rarely get views so didn’t know about it. Until I started this experiment.

In fact, of 7 messages sent out in the last 2 weeks (yes, I’m picky!) 4 of the recipients later viewed my profile. 2 seem not to have logged in again since my message. Previously, I would be lucky to get maybe 1 in 20 checking me out after I messaged them (I’ve had one or two I didn’t message look, but when I checked them out it’s an obvious “not interested” from me). No one has yet replied to my messages.

This implies that the formulaic messages (customised and tweaked for each recipient, of course) are working. It also implies that it is not the case women check out the profile first, then read the email (which is what I had read previously).

That means that something about the profile isn’t closing the deal. It may just be that they see I’m a big fat fatty and lose interest (in which case, I’m not interested anyway). I work on moving more and eating less (the only sure way to lose weight) but that’s a longer-term project, not something I can change quickly and easily. That leaves the profile pictures, or the profile text, as the potential stumbling blocks I can do something to change. And I think I’ve nailed it with the photos, to be honest. Still need a better full-length, but what I have is good enough for now. That leaves the text as the problem.

Two possibilities: the old text was better than the “36 Questions” text; or, neither was good and I need a new approach to writing it. For the sake of having a control, clearly I need to revert to the old text (maybe give or take a line or two from the new one that I particularly like) and repeat the experiment for a similar time or number of messages (whichever takes longer). If that doesn’t work, I need to find a new method.

Another point for development: in discussing the original experiment and challenging the questions posed, I mused, “Can I, perhaps, come up with questions to fit in Set I to replace the ones that I disliked? What about Set II or Set III?” Perhaps having some more questions that seem to fit at the first two levels, that I’ve produced myself, I can increase the range and scope of my opening messages, and make them even better tailored towards the specific recipients.

But to my mind the biggest thing I take so far from this is surprise at just how effective the simple message formula proves to be compared to the creative writing efforts I made before, that tried to reply to the profile. “I can tell when it’s a copy-paste email!” declare so many profiles. The results so far suggest that many recipients either don’t care, or actually can’t tell. Or maybe, think it’s a good thing.

The Importance of Love to D/s Strength

This started as an Edit To Add on my original “D/s Emotional Vulnerability” post, but quickly got long and I decided it needed to be a separate post.

Xiao Yingtai has taken the effort to work her comments on that post into a new blogpost: Submissive Strength: Contradiction or Koan?

Interestingly, while using most of the same text, Yingtai adds a new passage, and I think it’s a key piece of the puzzle that was missing when I wrote my post. She talks about, “making them feel loved.” It’s the element I was groping towards when I wrote about needing, “greater confidence that I am viewed consistently positively by my partner. In effect, in order to be less dependent I have a greater dependence.” But the flipside of that is that I, also, have to give my partner the same confidence in my unconditional positive regard (I love that phrase, from person-centred counselling) and love. That’s true regardless of kink, ‘nilla, Dom, sub or neither; but I think the added loads that D/s can place make the need more accute.

And this is the flipside of Yingtai’s question of, “He’s ignoring me right now, but that’s okay.” This presents a challenge from both sides (because a Dom, particularly a relative novice, can feel just as hurt and/or confused if hir Submissive seems focussed on something else than “serving me!”) but as a Dom faced with a Sub struggling with this question, there is a duty to assure the Sub of the consistent positive view, so they can believe it’s there even absent direct engagement. To create the environment in which that equilibrium can be found.

No one controls my emotions directly: not me, and definitely not anyone else. But the influences on them can be altered, and made less perilous or chaotic.

Love is the lubricant that makes it possible for Dom and Sub to slide into one another.

The curse of seeing the other side

Content Note: brief discussion of abusive situations and “victim” mentality.

I am a wee bit short on what to write. (You get that yesterday’s post should have have been done on Monday, right? so this is the post that is scheduled for yesterday…)

You see, I planned to write about how, despite the fact that 50 Shades of Grey is a badly-written novel about abuse masquerading as BDSM, it’s not bad to want to read it or see the movie. But Girl of the net beat me to it. So then I thought about writing an opposition piece to GotN, even though I tended to agree with most of her points.

(Specifically that, when you look carefully, the same basic plot makes up a(n) (in)decent chunk of erotic fiction published by the main houses such as Chimera Publications, Silver Moon, etc; and that the fantasy is far removed from reality, and it’s okay to have those fantasies; where I disagree is that FSOG is uniquely marketed as a romantic tale, and thereby romanticises abuse in a way that books that are purely about the kinky sex and so on, don’t seem to. And, despite claims otherwise, there is ample evidence people are not acting like “adults who are capable of telling the difference between fact and fiction” but reading it as a “how to”. So in the end I have written a potted version of that piece after all!)

Back to what I really wanted to write about tonight.

What I realised is that I have within me a curious, even I might suggest, perverse, sense of the contrary about me. I’m wary of calling it “perverse”, because I think it comes from a good place. But it does sometimes seem to get me twisted all wrongly, or just screw things up.

Another example is that earlier this week I drafted a whole post about the anti-vaccination movement. I absolutely disagree with them and, a decade on from the original paper being utterly discredited and revealed to be a work of fraud, I was flabbergasted to discover this is still a thing. I guess the truth really does take it’s time checking it has its keys for the umpteenth time, choosing which shoes to wear and checking the GPS, while the lie is already doing laps of the globe. I ended up deleting it, because I don’t actually know what anti-vaxers say; but the piece was an apologia explaining a mindset that I could readily understand that would lead to anti-vaxers making very bad decisions. While not justifying their assumptions 9which are on every basis wrong) I could still understand where those assumptions came from (i.e. ignorance, and skewed experience).

I seem to have an urge, even an urgency, to try to see the other side and appreciate what might be true “for them”. Or, to take an idea or statement and turn it around to see in what conditions I would consider it false, mistaken or even immoral.

Sometimes i really can’t see why a person opposes something. I do not understand climate change denier. I think I get that they have a vested interest sometimes in not seeing it (that’s a short-term interest; we all have a long-term interest in not drowning, roasting or freezing to death as the climate goes to pot). But the urge to try is always there.

Why it’s a good thing

This, I hope, is obvious: it comes from a place of seeking compassion and empathy. If I can understand why you are acting in the way you are, then I can hope to respond to you in a way that will be respectful of your needs, even if I think you are acting wrongly or are hurting others by your wrong deeds. Instead of declaring someone evil, I hope to reveal to them the truth (as I perceive it) in a way that makes sense to them, and that enables them to change their understanding so they no longer act wrongly or harmfully.

If I don’t think you’re wrong, but just am confused by you, then I can, again, seek to find a happier interaction by appreciating the world as you see it. Lord knows, I’m not brilliant at this, and I frequently miss stuff. But the tendency has been strengthened by remembering that most people on the internet don’t mean to hurt and if there is a way to understand something as not hurtful, I should seek that first. (My experience was always that people who intend to hurt are pretty easy to spot because they always double down and leave no doubt).

I see it as a good thing that I care about other people and want to understand them, even if I disagree with them.

Why it’s a bad thing

The flipside of this is that it leaves me vulnerable to genuinely abusive types. It’s a recipe for making excuses for the person who wants to hurt me. In general, I haven’t accepted blame for anything, but by trying to understand, I let myself get hurt again and again. (Recalling that I described myself as a typical Cancerian, folks may or may not recall that:

They’ll usually suspect when someone is lying, mistrustful or has malicious intentions. At the same time, their caring nature makes them want to give people the benefit of the doubt. They’ll be willing to take emotional gambles on people, hoping they can help bring out the best in the person. These gambles don’t always pay off.

and, “Cancers never forget their exes. … The bad qualities Cancer is still trying hard to understand.”

That’s pretty much what I’m talking about with this point.

Another huge drawback is that it can make meeting new people very hard indeed, because I am automatically seeing everything I do in two or more ways, some of which make it the right move and some of which make it the wrong move. (Did I ever mention, I overthink everything?) In boardgame language, and in some social/self-help circles, this is called “analysis paralysis”.

As I wrote when discussing my self-image, I have at least two different perceptions of myself going on at once: the shy and timid little tomboy, and the hulking hillbilly “smile and laugh” appearance, from Tucker & Dale Versus Evil:

Because I can see how my big, male-coded, body could be interpreted the second way by someone who doesn’t know me.

In some ways, this comes down to needing better heuristics (I love that word, still!) and better action-on plans for where the heuristics go astray. In other ways, it’s just the price I seem to pay for not wanting to harm people. (I originally typed “hurt” there, then remembered I’m a sadist so, in the right circumstances, I totally do want to hurt people; but this post is about all the other circumstances, where it isn’t a good thing.)

Conclusions

I would like very much to have more confidence, and not trapped in analysis paralysis. I would very much to be less vulnerable to abusive situations (and thereby less wary of people who are not going to be abusive). But I’m not willing to give up being a caring person who thinks other people have their own perspectives that I can try to appreciate. If I could have the good side without the bad, I would be happy, but if it’s both or neither, I’ll stick with what I’ve got.

It’s helpful for my writing. When creating the first draft of my novel, I tried to see the world from the antagonist’s point of view (and even imagined how the story would look if I made her the protagonist instead). This helped me, I hope, create her as less of a villainous cypher and more of a person who (however wrong) sees herself as doing the right thing.