Haven’t heard from Arf or Smrf still on the pap test discussion, and while checking kinkyasexuals for a response, I found some more posts on kink, self-harm, and survivorhood.  Just got back from a queer munch today, too, so I’m in the mindset for talking about this sort of thing.

First one was this one, in which an anon says, “Solidarity on the mental illness front. That survivor feel when your own kinks trigger you…” …and, yeah, that one resonates with me a lot more than I wish it did.  And I think there’s a lot to discuss there, probably.  Soooo I didn’t end up finding asexual-domme’s response very satisfying, but whatever.  Just because someone comes to you with a message saying “that feel when” doesn’t mean the majority of your response needs to be about that same feel when. [sidenote: you may remember asexual-domme from this convo here and here, tw for self harm and pain play]

Anyway, that led to this post, in which Smrf — who, may I reiterate, I do not trust as a source of advice — counsels a recently traumatized anon.  I do think it’s a good thing she told them they’re not alone in this experience.  Just… kinda raising my eyebrow at the Freudian notion of “latent desires.”  If that’s a helpful way for you to think of it, then, sure, I guess.  Not sure it’s a good idea to bring that framework up specifically here, though, as a suggestion to another person (rather than a description for yourself picked for your own self).

Anyway, setting that aside — “If you do decide to engage in these scenes, they are also not really real” ? ?

1) What is the working definition of “real,” here?  If you’re making it happen, if it’s involving another person, if it’s happening in meatspace, then… it seems like those are the common basics where people would agree *of course* it’s real.  Personally, I think things can be “real” even if they don’t happen in meatspace, but things that do happen physically face-to-face are where I’m used to everyone being on the same page that, yes, that’s definitely what counts as real.  Maybe you could say it’s not real in the way that plays and theater productions aren’t real, but that’s only if we’re talking about a role play scenario, and we don’t know if anon was talking about something that could be feasibly made into a role play scenario.

2) And anyway, why are you talking about “if you do decide to engage in these scenes” in the first place, when the anon already said that playing these fantasies out “would be extremely harmful to people in real life”?  They didn’t specify what kind of scenario it would be; all they specified was that it definitely involves harm.  That sounds like the question is already settled as to whether the anon will “decide to engage in these scenes.”  I mean, granted, the thought that “you don’t have to cause real harm to get the proxy sensation” might be useful, but you don’t even know what the fantasies are specifically about.  You don’t even know if that suggestion is applicable.  And when Smrf throws in a link to another post of hers and says of this post, “it will have some relevance for your current situation” — how do you know?  It’s not bad to throw in a link that could be useful, but what’s with the certainty here?

Anyway, I got the impression that the bulk of this response is coming from the vantage point of how to make X thing happen in practice, when that may not even be the anon’s priority.  And it definitely annoys me, the general lack of space made (by kinksters as far as I’ve seen) to just acknowledge fantasies without intending to embrace or pursue them — which is important to me because I definitely am in that position when it comes to a few things.

As for what to do in case of being distressed by the fantasies, Smrf says, “If your fantasies are disturbing you to a point where you’re constantly anxious or feeling sick over them, I would consult a mental health professional” and then just goes on about that for a while.

I can understand why Smrf wouldn’t feel equipped to say anything else, but this is definitely deficient advice for anyone for whom that isn’t an option.  It really shouldn’t take that much creativity to consider that this anon might need to hear more than just “do the scene carefully or see a therapist.”  Geez lousie.

Alright, so onto the third post, found through the second.  An anon asks, “How do I explore my interest in BDSM without making it a form of self-harm?”  Seems a pretty good question.  Smrf gives several pieces of advice.  If it were me, I probably would have talked more about risk management in the pursuit of that kind of vulnerability and isolating what you find appealing in asymmetry.

What Smrf suggests features things like this:

First and foremost, only play with people you trust.  This doesn’t have to be a romantic partner, or someone you have a specified relationship, or even someone who necessarily knows about your past, but it does have to be someone who you know well enough that if something goes wrong you can handle them being the person who takes care of you.

Okay, that’s nice, but personally, being the jaded nervous victimized person that I am, I tend to get stuck on this “step one: find someone you trust” thing because I don’t trust my own ability to know when to trust someone, and I would appreciate concrete tips for deciding when and how to trust people.  Is that feasible?  Probably not.  But “only play with people you trust” is still oversimplistic advice.  Just because somebody trusts somebody doesn’t mean they’re trustworthy.  So, you know.  Try to account for that in the way you give advice.

Therefore, anyone you play with has to know that you DO have a difficult past.  They don’t have to know the details (and if they press you for details you aren’t willing to share, I would highly recommend NOT playing with them), but they need to be aware that you may not be sure what sets you off.  This may scare some people away, but most people are mature enough to handle this with grace.

1) A specific example of what-reveals-someone-as-untrustworthy is appreciated, thanks.

2) Not sold on this message of, “hey abuse survivors, it’s always the best idea and always safer to tell people that you’ve been abused, so if you do a risky thing with someone, you Must disclose.”  Seems kinda short-sighted, y’know.

3) “Most people are mature enough to handle this with grace”?  The heck?  I… am glad you’ve had so many good experiences, evidently, but that doesn’t prove “most people” are “mature enough” to “handle” disclosure of trauma that might interfere with a smooth fun experience “with grace.”

The conversation, while the details will change, should be structured something like this:

Concrete advice and a script.  Good.  Thanks.  Still don’t like you saying “should” instead of presenting it as a mere suggestion to use as needed.  Good ideas in this paragraph though.

I’m going to assume by asking this question you’ve self harmed in the past, so you perhaps already know what it is that instigates the feelings in you.  Therefore, you need to avoid them at all cost.

Oooooooookay, but what if you’re assuming wrong?  I mean, good on you for picking up on that likely possibility from what little info you’ve been given, but they might need advice for if that’s not the case, too.

While BDSM is about playing and engaging with the taboo–

It’s plainly not.

Even if you’re playing with things that are scary, and you purposefully want to explore these topics as a form of exposure therapy, you need to do it in a way that’s not reckless and won’t cause further harm when the scene is done.

… I’m conflicted over the fact that I do generally want people to take good care of themselves but something about the tone of this is bugging the heck out of me.  Probably the sentiment of “you need to not hurt yourself” being both really patronizing and… not good for building up the kind of choice-making practice that affects people’s vulnerability to interpersonal abuse.

By which I mean… you don’t protect people from violating experiences by being really bossy yourself.

And don’t dance around it, either; this needs to be a set, hard limit for you.

Exhibit A: telling people what their limits should be.

Three hugelong paragraphs into the reply, Smrf finally gets to this topic:

Now, as far being being controlled and told what to do and punished for bad behaviour…

Yeah, that thing I would have addressed right at the beginning, if it were me.

This sounds like it could slip into slightly dangerous territory, but I’m not going to tell you not to do it.

LMAO NOW YOU SUDDENLY GET SQUEAMISH ABOUT TELLING PEOPLE WHAT TO DO.

Only lasts as long as that sentence, though.  Who would have guessed.

From here, Smrf starts describing a suggestion for how to do a scene, even though, as far as I can tell, what she’s talking about may not even be what anon wanted.  It’s hard to tell, since these kinds of anonymous messages tend to be pretty short and slim on the details.  That’s the thing, though — when handling a question like this, when it’s ambiguous what the asker might have meant, it’s wise to address multiple possibilities, instead of just making a single assumption and sticking with it.

That way, it’s not an ACTUAL behaviour you’re being punished for, so you get the chance to explore the punishment motif without feeling like you actually did a bad thing, because going into that cold turkey can be a slippery slope.

Aaaand explaining why that is and how to navigate those risks is what I would have spent at least 50% of this response on, if I were you, instead of sidelining it into a few sentences here and there.

Smrf then suggests some backstory ideas involving a physically abusive teacher, which, uh, seems like the kind of thing you’d put a trigger warning for in case anyone who’s had direct personal experience with that kind of thing may be reading this, but uh *jazz hands* it’s a BDSM blog so I guess no one thinks to do those sort of things!

Play with that boundary in a way that’s fun for you but don’t do anything that even remotely borders on what would be triggery/self harming behaviour (again, if you know).

And what if you don’t know?

(not addressed)

Then, after the scene is done and you’ve both had time to calm down, talk it out extensively, either with yourself or with your partner (although it’s always fun/good to provide feedback to a partner).  What did you like, what didn’t you like, how did this make you feel, what did you want more of.

This is just scene basics that they could have found anywhere.  You could have just linked a 101 resource to cover this stuff and then spent more time on the relevant specifics.  I’m tearing my hair out.

As you begin to feel more and more confident in the roleplay scenario, you can take that to real life.  Today you were really bad, you cut off a car in traffic and you dropped a set of dishes and you cursed at your boss, whatever.  Now your partner knows a set of punishments that work for you, and you can play with correcting real behaviour in a way that’s constructive and still enjoyable for you.  The important part here is that this can’t be something that you actually REALLY enjoy.  Then you’re just going to keep doing worse and worse things to get punished more and more.

What was that slippery slope thing you mentioned again?

You’re allowed to scene outside of these punishments,

Oh!  Good to know they’re “allowed,” your highness.

See how you can play around with behaviours you enjoy but still make it a form of correction?

Is this really the theory of human learning you subscribe to?

And again, this is all up to you.

ROFL

God, what an utter disaster.

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