Thursday, May 2, 2013

Confidence and Pride

The most important trait a kinkster can strive for is confidence. While a lot of dynamics require other traits (stoicism, for instance), confidence is what makes it all possible. Without confidence you can't express your interests to others to find the experience you need to explore these parts of yourself. Without confidence you're more likely to feel shame than pride or even curiosity. Without confidence you'll wistfully jerk off to porn instead of living your fantasies.

Our current sense of morality somehow never grew out of feudal times, when kings, and priests held all the power in the land. From their thrones they issued edicts under the premise that they knew better than their underlings, and in some instances they genuinely did. It's because of this ideology that our moral code completely ignores the concept of consent; when it was developed, it was believed that the adults of the land could not be trusted to make their own decisions. In a country where 99% of its population can read/write and 80% of its population has access to the internet - and, thus, the wealth of human knowledge - this sort of ideology is complete and utter bullshit.

Having this moral code sitting in our subconscious stifles our ability to be confident about our kinky side. After all, you've been told your entire life that these things are wrong and disturbed and disgusting, even psychotic or pathological. Most people don't question it because it's such a prevalent set of morals that it has been reinforced by nearly every person that they've met in their life. There's also an unfortunate class of (remarkably unintelligent) people who mistake their own personal feelings for an objective moral code. These are the people who would campaign to ban asparagus because they, themselves, don't like the way it tastes and believe no one should have to deal with such unpleasantness. While the intention might not always be malicious, the ignorance is nothing short of devastating to the lives of others.

Now let's look at shame for a moment. Shame is the emotional manifestation of breaching a moral code or other set of expectations one adheres to. Without the feeling that there has been a breach, shame is not possible, and don't forget the inverse is also true: if a person does not feel shame and instead feels pride/confidence regarding an act, one can infer that they do not feel it is a breach. Shame can become apparent through intentional discretion, shyness, regret, or anything regarding a lack of willingness to disclose. Even if a moral code isn't reinforced explicitly through conversation, witnessing people who exhibit these qualities reinforces the perceived validity of one's own moral code and the - purportedly - inherent wrongness of a given act.

What happens when we replace shame with pride is that it challenges this cycle of reinforcement. In addition to an opinion of feeling something is innately wrong, this reinforced set of morals includes a myriad of stigmas, stereotypes, and assumptions; all of which depend on that cycle of reinforcement. When we replace shame with pride in sane and sensible people, it forces these assumptions to be reevaluated. I've said for years that the people who need to come out are specifically the ones afraid to do so, as they have the greatest exposure to people whose values are in dire need of questioning. We unfortunately don't see changes like this happen very often in the media, but look at Rob Portman's recent reversal of his opinion on gay marriage when his son came out. As a minority, homosexuals are charged with constantly challenging people's assumptions - as kinksters, this need is even greater. Without challengers, stigmas will only continue to be perpetuated by the cycle of reinforcement.

So how do we break the spell? We develop a strong enough resolve to not feel ashamed when judged for what we do in bed as consensual adults, and we demand open-mindedness from those who seek to know us. In a sense, we elect to be picky about the company we keep. I can't say I believe in an "eye for an eye" philosophy, and don't mistake this concept for one, but when we refuse to tolerate intolerance it forces people to look inward as to why they feel the way that they do. Any mature or self-aware adult should dismiss opinions and conclusions he can't rationalize, and anyone selfish enough to value their own misguided thoughts and feelings over an objective reality isn't worth anyone's time at all. Until we develop the technology to incorporate others' minds into their deluded brains, we must demand they live in the same world as the rest of us instead of the warped one they've concocted entirely in their heads.

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