I have no resolutions.
This isn’t as weirdly hopeless as it might sound.
I’ve spent the past few weeks fretting on one account or another. Some of it is fretting over what choices I “should” be making, what things I “should” be doing, and judging my own life and progress against that of others around me.Â Which is, at best, a fool’s errand and at worst results in wickedÂ emotionalÂ gridlock andÂ grievousÂ self-inflictedÂ injuries to the self-esteem.
The paths I have chosen do not have sure and steadyÂ road-mapsÂ for success. Hell, you can be at the top of your game as a sexuality educator and still have people look confused and baffled when you explain that yes, your services do cost money and no, you aren’t able to pay your own way to work for them for free. Â As an actor, you can work your ass off, have an amazing cast, a dedicated crew, and a brilliant, gleaming piece of art and yet walk out to a half-empty house night after night.
I don’t select the easy path. And my organic talents are often subject to scrutiny that would wither even the strongest resolve.
But I soldier on, because there are some things I do NOT feel are options.
Giving up on myself is not an option.
Caving in to criticism from haters is not an option.
Permitting myself to live onÂ crumbsÂ thrown to me by those I would love is not an option.Short-selling my own personal stock in order to gain acceptance from those who would easily takeÂ advantageÂ of my misplaced generosity is not an option.
As an active member and worker within professional Â the Kink / Leather / BDSM / Alternative Sexuality Communit(y)/(ies), I am often amazed and delighted by the connections I have made, by the people I encounter, by the lessons I have learned and continue to learn.Â And sometimes, I am dismayed by some trends and behaviours I have witnessed and personally experienced. Â Bubbly optimism only goes so far when I see people who come into the scene eager enthusiastic students and sexual explorersÂ become , in short order, selfish exploiters ofÂ vulnerableÂ humans. When I see people who are untrustworthy or even straight-up abusers in positions of power and influence, such as running events and teaching classes. And when other people are aware of this conflict Â of interest yet shrug and say “It isn’t my job to police the Community.” Â When I see people belittling andÂ haranguingÂ people on FetLife with no apparent regard for the fact that a human being is on the other end reading their words. When submissive people accept relationship configurations that don’t fit their core needs but are so fearful of being alone that they support anÂ emotionalÂ system that, ultimately, drains them of their joy. When self-identified and publicly acknowledged “masters” use and discard people in the name of “master / slave” dynamics.
No amount of ranting and railing on my part will change that. Or will it? Are we, as a community, so lazy or fearful and hopeless that we won’t even try?
Or isÂ it Â kinda hopeless? When you DO stand up and say “This is not acceptable,” what is the net benefit? Does the act of voicingÂ grievancesÂ ever really change anyone?
Last year I had a date to play with someone I’d found very intriguing, and it seemed the feeling was mutual. We negotiated a scene, and as we had a couple of days we would be in the same town, we also looked forward to connection socially, too. In the course of the scene, I started to have a very deeply emotional reaction I didn’t quite understand until, about an hour or so into our encounter, they leaned in and said “I suppose I should have mentioned I do a lot of energy play.” For those unfamiliar with the term, playing with “energy” is a blanket (and nebulous) term that may refer to specifically connecting on a deeper spiritual and or energetic emotional level in the course of the BDSM encounter. We hadn’t negotiated to do that type of play. For me, someone attempting to access my insides is a thing I like to know about beforehand. This individual had decided it was OK to bounce that into our scene without previous arrangement. And it shook me up quite profoundly. Interestingly, no one had ever before breached that boundary uninvited and unannounced…which just goes to show, no matter how much you work to negotiate your interactions, there’s something you forgot. we rely, a great deal, on the integrity of our partners when we play. And now I know to specificallyÂ negotiateÂ that shit beforehand.
Subsequent toÂ that encounter, when we were supposed to be engaged in re-connecting and discussing the scene and some other shit, this person managed to behave in ways that deeply engaged my own self-esteem issues. They were neglectingÂ to focus on our conversation as they were constantly flirting with other folks, five times even breaking off mid-sentence to make some saucily lascivious comment to someone else at the event we were attending. For me, this was tough and I felt pretty horrid. It is tough for me to not take itÂ personallyÂ when someone seems unable to focus on our conversation and connection.
Despite what IÂ saw as preeeety sketchy behaviour,Â it took me a bit o’ gumption to muster up the guts to say “Hey, that was crappy behaviour and I am not happy about the way that went down.” While this person did apologise, they appended the apology with “That’s just the way I am.”
And so it goes.
Now, this person has no shortage or play partners, admirers, people who think they’re the bees knees and treat them with respect. Their behaviour is accepted as “just the way they are” and they roll on, having a grand old time.
And what do I get for standing up for myself? For trying toÂ maintainÂ integrity, for calling them out on their shit?Â A weak non-apology.
And this is…typical.
Most submissives will nod in recognition of this behavior fromÂ dominantÂ types. And to be fair, we as submissive/ slave types bear someÂ responsibilityÂ for permitting this shitty, shitty behaviour to stand. We stay in relationships with people who don’t value us. We shrug and say “Well, that’s just how they are!” when it might be better to say “Hey, you know what? You don’t play nice, you don’t get the candy.”
But the candy is really good and we sell ourselves short in order to get it.
I with a had some strong rallying cry, but I don’t. The result of my resolve to be treated withÂ respectÂ is that I have had to walk away from potential relationships, from fully-realized relationships, even though I was so terribly lonely. I wish I was happy and confident being single and that I felt rewarded for myÂ integrityÂ but as often as not I cry and wonder what is so wrong with me that I can’t even hold the attention, focus, and desire of a partner the way that they hold mine.
Is it hopeless to try to find connection in a community were badÂ behavior, negligence, arrogance and destructive selfishness is rewarded? Am I on a fool’s errand striving to maintain integrity when so many are eagerly relinquishing theirs? Is it just dumb as fuck to expect people to have the crazy ass standards I hold for myself?
At the core, deep in my gut, I still have hope that no, it isn’tÂ hopeless, foolish or dumb. And I keep that hope alive as best I can. Even when it hurts. And it hurts a lot.
One of my projects for 2013 is to create sumbissive/slave summits: small-scale events where those of us who ID is such can come and talk about our shit. Network. Create accountability. Shoulder personal responsibility. Offer support. And trade notes. Maybe, on some small scale, we can start a Revolution of Respect. Because if not us, who?
So as it turns out, I lied. I DO have a resolution. I am resolved to Continue.