Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Kaelah's Corner (May 2011):

Today's topic is a very controversial one. As a matter of fact I assume that some readers might even be offended by the mere fact that I'm going to ask certain questions in this post. Mind you, my intention isn't to say that things are either this or that way. But I've made some observations and experiences in our community that made me wonder. And I've decided to share my thoughts with you and ask for your opinion.

I guess all of you have heard or read about stress-relief spankings, spanking for the purpose of releasing otherwise suppressed emotions, spankings that helped people to get rid of a bad mood and even spankings that worked as a kind of therapy against forms of chronic pain. And I assume that it is widely agreed in our community that many kinksters don't only use spanking as a part of their sexual play, but also, at least from time to time, for the one or other of the “therapeutic” purposes mentioned above.

But these aren't the forms of therapy I want to talk about today. So, what is today's post all about? Basically, it is about the question whether spanking and the frameworks of kinky relationships are used, much more often than one might assume at first sight, as a kind of self-therapy that helps people to cope with negative experiences, personal insecurities and even potentially damaging behaviour in a controlled manner. And secondly, it is about the question whether there is a significantly higher amount of people with certain forms of insecurities or a predisposition for certain forms of self-violating behaviour in our community compared to society as a whole.

The observations I am going to share with you touch completely different aspects of kink and our community. My intention is not to say that these aspects are in any way correlated with each other. And this is not about a moral judgement, either. However, all of these observations fed similar thoughts and questions. I'll share them with you one by one to show you what I'm talking about.

The first observation is one that I have made about kinky relationships, in the online community as well as in one of the local communities here in Munich. In both environments I've been confronted with many relationships that involve a permanent unidirectional power dynamics. I'm not only talking about kinky play here, I'm talking about concepts for a partnership as a whole.

A form that seems very common to me and which Ludwig has often come across at the local community is the daddy-girl dynamic. I'm well aware that many people only use that dynamic for role-play scenarios, but there also seem to be a lot of couples for whom this is a permanent part of their relationship. From my observation, these relationships tend to be between rather young women and men who usually are at least a few years older than their partner.

Several of the women I know who are in such a form of relationship admit that they don't feel like adults (yet) and that they are looking for someone to protect them and care for them. Someone who is older and wiser and can teach them things about life. And someone they can call whenever things are getting rough and who will, like a friend aptly called it, “jump in on his white horse, wearing his shining armor, and go to tilt at windmills”.

Ludwig has made the observation that, in his view, many of the women he knows from the local scene seem less self-reliant and less adult than the average women their age. Another observation we both made, when listening to stories about their background, is that many of the women seeking this form of daddy-girl relationship apparently did not have a caring father figure in their childhood and deeply missed that experience.

From my observation, there seem to be certain types of tops that are involved in daddy-girl relationships as well. I've got the impression that often the men in these relationships seem to seek not only the feeling of being loved, but also the feeling of being needed, of being looked up to and of being superior to their partner concerning life experience, knowledge and the like.

What makes me think even more about the question whether both parties use the power dynamics of their relationship to deal with certain insecurities is that I have seen women outgrow this form of relationship, which usually led to a split-up. While the women, from what I have seen, then usually looked for a more equal partnership, it seems to me like the men involved often found it more difficult to cope with the end of the relationship and tried to overcome the loss by looking for a new girl to care for.

Of course, the daddy-girl relationships are not the only ones with a permanent power dynamics like this. Forms of relationships which seem to be much more uncommon among our local friends, but about which I've read a lot in the online community are HOH (head of household), FLR (female led relationship) and 24/7 master-slave relationships. I don't have as much knowledge about the background of the people involved in these kinds of relationships, but what strikes me is that the submissives often describe certain similar-sounding needs.

Those are: the need for leadership in their lives, the need to be given rules and to be held accountable, the need to be helped with improving their behaviour and with getting rid of bad habits. What I've heard quite often as well is the wish to please their partner in return. I've read much less from people who are in charge in such a relationship, but it seems to me that what they seek often is caring for and helping another person, but also obedient behaviour and (unquestioning) submission from their partner. So, it seems to me that the power dynamics in these kinds of relationships are quite similar to the one in daddy-girl relationships.

What I'm asking myself is: Why do there seem to be so many relationships with that kind of power dynamics in our community? Does submission often go along with insecurities and the wish to give up a certain amount of responsibility for one's own daily life? Does dominance often go along with the wish to feel strong through caring for and having the obedience of another person? Or am I completely wrong about the power dynamics and the underlying motives of the kinds of relationships I've described? Maybe the truth lies somewhere in the middle?

Power dynamics in relationships are not the only thing that made me think, though. I have to admit that I have never read and heard as much about horrible experiences of real abuse during childhood / adolescence as in the kinky community. And I've never come across so many stories about, and evidence of, self-harming behaviour as I did here. In both cases, I have no idea whether this is just because we generally talk more openly about life experiences in our community or whether there is indeed a significantly higher number of people with bad experiences in our community than in the general population. The self-destructive behaviours I'm talking about are, for example, self-cutting or beating oneself up mentally with permanent feelings of guilt.

So, the question is: Is there a statistical correlation at all or is it just co-incidence? And can spanking be used in any way to deal with horrible memories or to control potentially self-harming tendencies? Furthermore, can spanking play also be dangerous in case someone has a tendency towards a certain form of self-harming behaviour? I know at least one woman who eventually interpreted her tendency of getting involved in increasingly dark play scenarios as a self-destructive pattern and then turned away from that form of play.

I've also come across some self-descriptions of tops that were quite similar and to me sounded like they somehow used spanking as a form of therapy. Basically, these tops admitted to having a kind of dark side, “inner demons” or an “inner werewolf” with which they dealt by letting it out in a controlled manner in their kinky play. I don't know how common this experience is (and I'm not sure how many people would admit to having made that experience), but I know at least two tops who described themselves this way...

So much for the diverse observations that made me wonder about possible common patterns. Of course, I thought about my own kink and possible motives for my personal fantasies as well and  I found the results quite revealing. I'm going to share them with you in another post.

For today I'd like to leave you with my different observations and these questions: Do therapeutic effects explain a (smaller or bigger) part of our spanking fantasies and the power dynamics of kinky relationships? If so, what are the advantages and possible risks? And, the certainly most controversial question of all: Could there be a statistical correlation between kinkiness and certain problematic character traits (like being easily stressed out, or even a tendency towards self-harm), negative experiences during childhood or adolescence, and / or feelings of insecurity? I don't think that anyone knows the ultimate truth about these questions, but I would very much like to hear about your personal experiences and thoughts.


Ludwig said...

The number of "daddy girl" relationships (and perhaps "mommy boy" relationships) in our community definitely seems higher than in the general population. This is first and foremost just an observation of mine, not a judgment - if both parties are happy within such a relationship, great for them. I can't say that all such relationships which I have seen ended happily, but that is true of so many other relationships as well.

I also think that there definitely is a fair number of people in our community who use spanking and kink as a form of self-therapy. Again, if it works for them, that is nothing but a good thing. But it is certainly interesting.

The most controversial question: does the BDSM community contain a higher percentage of people with serious problems (for lack of a better word) than the general population, people who would probably need something more professional than kinky self-therapy? Or do we only seem to hear about such cases more frequently in our community because we talk more openly about intimate matters here, while the percentage is not any higher than in the general population?

I suppose the honest answer is that nobody knows for sure. I always took reassurance in the fact that no serious scientific study I know found a higher percentage of people with psychological problems in the BDSM community than in the general population. So everything seems to be fine. However, if we are honest with ourselves, we have to say that there simply is not a lot of serious, conclusive scientific research about the BDSM community yet. So it still is very much an open question.

I think scientists can agree that an inclination towards BDSM, per se, is certainly not a disorder or an indication of problems, and that the majority of people who practice BDSM do so in a happy and healthy way. However, I think it is possible that we have a somewhat larger statistical minority of people with psychological problems in our community than the general population. I think it is possible that this applies to other subcultures as well, and that it has more to do with the nature of subcultures in general and with the fact that they might attract certain people than with BDSM per se.

Since becoming an active participant in the BDSM community some years ago, I have seen a few things first-hand which gave me pause - cases of people who really and clearly did have serious problems. I don't think that BDSM caused these problems. My impression is, rather, that these people had these problems well before entering the community, and that they gravitated towards the community because they consciously or subsconscously thought that it would be a solution for them - many subcultures seem to attract their share of troubled people and help-seekers. Ultimately, I don't think that practicing BDSM was healthy for these people, though, and I don't think that they were healthy for the people they played with, either.

I might go into more detail about that subject in a post of my own sometime, to show that I am not just muttering about a subject about which I don't really have a clue, but that I at least have good reason for my guarded speculations about these cases. But for the time being, I have said enough, and I would rather hear about readers' opinions and experiences.

Anonymous said...

Kaelah, you raise interesting questions.

Your observation that some women seem to grow out of wanting to be in these kinds of dependent relationships is also telling.

I'm reminded of Nikki Flynn, who, I gather had finally processed what she needed to process through the sort of challenging roles she was taking on spanking productions for the likes of Lupus, and was ready to move on.

Ludwig did the closest thing I've seen to an exit interview with her, and as I recall the published version didn't address the question of whether Nikki was giving up kinky play altogether, with the feeling that she didn't need it any longer, or whether it was just the high-profile public life as a spanking actress she was retiring from. Note that I'm not saying Nikki was sick in the sense that Kaelah talks about. She wasn't in one of these daddy-girl relationships, that I know of, at least.

But it does look like a case of someone who went into spanking play for some personal psychological reason, and after some years of it, felt she didn't need it any more. Does that mean that the spanking play had a therapeutic value for her? It might seem so.

Rosaleen Young followed a similar pattern, although I haven't seen much published on why she gave up her public role and whether she continued with private play. Probably that was because Rosaleen wanted that info kept private.

People have criticised the movie "Secretary" for portraying the female character as someone who previously engaged in cutting herself, but Kaelah seems to say that it was perhaps more accurate to portray her like that than some would credit.

Others have suggested that some girls go into martial arts to get their "fair share of abuse", as the Rolling Stones put it in one of their songs.

One of my facebook friends out of the blue is talking about wanting someone to make her decisions for her. It's probably not so uncommon to have this kind of desire to be taken care of -- a desire that's addressed by Head of the Household domestic discipline relationships and the like.

I'm also reminded of an author, who I'll call B who said (as a young adult) that she was worried that if she couldn't find someone to spank her that she'd drive into a highway overpass. And when she did finally find someone to fill those needs he told her, as he was getting ready to spank her for the first time, "You need this". She didn't disagree.

Now, according to her memoir, her background was not one of abuse. Although as a child she'd wished she could have gone to Sunday school like her neighbours and had a more structured, boundaried life. But her parents were intellectuals who treated her like a little adult. Still, I don't think this sort of childhood can be seen as a direct cause for these kind of longings and needs.

There some kind of mystery going on in cases like this that you could say points to past lives or the like. But I'm not proposing any conclusions at this stage, merely contributing to the discussion.

Karl Friedrich Gauss

Anonymous said...

Hi Kaelah,

I have never used spanking as a form of therapy of any kind, as a stress reliever, or as a means of eliminating a bad mood.

There’s no way for me to know whether spankos are more inclined to have insecurities or to engage in self-violating behavior compared with the rest of the non-spanking population. My guess is that spankers and non-spankers alike are just as likely to have insecurities or engage in self-violating acts.

In my marriage, there’s a daddy-girl dynamic, even though I’m the one who is spanked. My wife is ten years younger than me. At an unconscious level, she turns to me to satisfy some of the experiences she missed or didn’t have with her father while she was growing up. I have no problem giving her these experiences. However, she doesn’t consider herself to be a little girl who is not ready for life. She could survive quite well without me. In this regard I do not feel superior to her at all, and there are no domestic rules or any need to be rid of bad behavior for either of us.

I would generally characterize myself as submissive, but I have absolutely no desire to give responsibility for my life to anyone else under any circumstance. The day I’m no longer able to care for myself and take responsibility for my actions would be a good day to die, as the Klingons would say.

Our Bottoms Burn said...

Another excellent analysis. You are both deep thinkers.

It seems we share similar views on Daddy/girl relationships. Tho I admit, I am judgmental about it. If it's role play, that's one thing, but if it real life, then I don't care to be around people who do not want to make decisions about their own lives. While we both like to be paddled, we are both Alpha's and make our own decisions. For me, not wanting to take charge of your own life, is weakness and grates on me like fingernails on a chalkboard.

As for the Daddy's, they are part of a symbiotic relationship that could not handle a relationship with a strong woman.

Kaelah, Would like to see your critique of this.
Yes, I can handle criticism. I often learn from it.

Anonymous said...

There are other "phases" or passing interests that young women have been known to go through, such as horseback riding, or photography.

In connection with the discussion topic, I'm also reminded of Tiffany who is a current blogger and you could say is in one of these father figure relationships. In her case her father figure seems to say that she's had a discipline deficit during her growing up years. And she seems to be in total agreement, that spankings are something has been missing for a long time.

Of course Tiffany had recently left home for her first year in college, and doesn't, I'd imagine, see this relationship as a permanent one, since it's with her college prof.

Some people whose views on the subject extend to considering the reincarnation angle might say that a lot of this enthusiasm for spanking and the like, is a manifestation of nostalgia for social forms from the past.

Or, karmically speaking, consider the case of someone who meted out a lot of corporal punishment in a past life and wants to somehow balance that by experiencing first hand how that felt for the recipients.

It's not a stretch to suppose that such a person would engage in a spanking relationship in this life, since social norms have moved on in the centuries since his or her last incarnation, and it's not so straightforward to get these experiences in regular everyday life nowadays.

Karl Friedrich Gauss

Ludwig said...

@ Karl: Niki [sic] Flynn is a very interesting case. I could address the questions you raise, but I won't, because these are private matters. Niki said what she wanted to say publicly in her final interview. I encourage people to re-read it and draw their own conclusions if they like.

She did say in there: "I really do feel like my Scene self just grew up. First I stopped liking ageplay. Then I stopped liking school play. Then I stopped wanting and needing punishment and pain. I discovered the joys of pleasure - yes, what a revelation! - and have been evolving in different directions over the past few months." So, yes, it does sound like someone outgrowing certain forms of kink, if perhaps not kink altogether.

@ Our Bottoms Burn: Kaelah and I are both independent-minded people as well and could not imagine living in anything but a fully equal relationship. But I really would not want to be judgmental about "daddy girl" relationships. Are people in such relationships weak, the women because they can't / don't want to assume responsibility for their own lives, the men because they can't / don't want to handle a relationship with a strong woman and only feel comfortable around little girls? This may very well be true for some of the people in "daddy girl" relationships, but I am loathe to generalise it. We are all individuals, we are all different, and so are the relationships we build.

Georgia said...

I would posit that kinky people do have more psychological problems/quirks than the general population only because creative people tend to have more psychological issues and what sexual expression is more creative than role play? Most kinky people I know are quite creative.

The daddy/girl dynamic is a little unnerving for me as well, though I can't deny that there are times when I would like nothing more than somebody to take control of my life and allow me to take a passive role. I think part of that comes from a fear of failure - by allowing somebody else to take control of your life you eliminate the possibility of true failure in a way, because your actions and problems become the responsibility of somebody else.

I've had a couple mild struggles with self-harm and I certainly questioned whether or not my kink was simply an extension of some innate desire to self-destruct, but ultimately I've decided that they are two separate things entirely. That said, spankings can often achieve the same kind of high and relaxed that I would get from self-harm, probably because both things set of your endorphins.

interesting post!

Anonymous said...

Of course this topic raises issues of self-acceptance. Pink addresses this today's post on her blog in which she asks herself if she would wish to not be a spanko and in which she recounts one of her attempts at a vanilla relationship: http://thepinkreport.wordpress.com/2011/06/01/any-other-way/

The other thing this discussion brings up is a remembrance of reading A. S. Neill's book "Summerhill". Neill was an alternative educator in 1960s Britain. His school was rather free-form and he dispensed with the traditions of corporal punishment and the standard curriculum. But what he did do was engage those students who were into it in extended sessions of "toilet talk". Apparently they would go on and on about shit and piss and crap and all the embarrassing related topics that these kids loved to talk about. At first the kids were surprised to find an adult that wouldn't try to shut them up when they even used the words relating to excretory functions. Neill's message to the kids was that this sort of talk was OK. That it was ok to be interested in toilet talk. But inevitably what would happen would be that there would come a time when for a given kid, toilet talk would no longer seem an interesting way to pass the time. They would be ready to move on to something else.

Now there are some parallels to spanking. In that it's usually not talked about in polite company, that it's on many levels embarrassing and so forth. And so the interesting question is whether it's something folks might "get over" in the same way those kids got over their obsession with toilet talk.

Nikki's example would indicate that getting over it is possible for some people at least. I don't get the impression that Nikki rejected her kind earlier on, or that she wished she was not kinky. The getting over it was just something that happened.

On the other hand, perhaps a kinky orientation is something we can dig ourselves deeper into. It can be something we program ourselves with in the sense of the book "The Brain the Changes Itself"?

Maybe the difference is a matter of keeping an open mind about whether who you are now is not necessarily who you will be in the future.

I would love to know more about Nikki's story, but of course we must respect her privacy in this matter.

Karl Friedrich Gauss


On the subject of self harming, I did not know much about it until I started to read blogs. I was always impressed about the fact that female bottoms and subs seemed to cope better with long periods without playing and not suffer the mental instabilities of their male counterparts during the same long, no play periods. I am led to wonder then is self harming a positive thing during these periods? I have since tried self harming myself, during long dry spells but it did not help me. I think that I do not have the same set of body chemicals as a woman has to be taken into account when considering the difference between the effects of self harming on myself and my female counterparts. The last that I heard about self harming, from a psychologist on BBC radio 4, is that self harmers are now advised to control the cutting etc, rather than stop it, as stopping can have worse long term effects. I feel that self harming may be a coping mechanism for some women and not as great a problem as it may at first sight seem. I wish that it worked for men too, as the long term effects on a male bottom or sub of going without play can be very disturbing for a man, as I know from first hand experience.


Indy said...

A number of factors make this sort of question hard to address. First, there is a tendency to generalize from our own experiences or observations of only a few people in the scene. Sure, I know of cases in which I think the Daddy/Girl or Mommy/Boy dynamic seems problematic, but how many couples are there out there who quietly practice a similar dynamic without drawing attention to themselves?

And could it be that those of us who struggle with the concept of such an asymmetric relationship are more likely to label the problematic relationships we see as Daddy/Girl, etc., while not necessarily assigning the same label to other relationships that might fit it in some way?

Second, it's hard to pick a subsection of vanilla culture to compare to kinky culture. My kinky circle of friends and acquaintances has a much broader distribution of occupations, socioeconomic status, educational levels, and even age groups than does my circle of vanilla friends. So comparing the kinky people we know to the (ostensibly) vanilla people we know is often a case of comparing apples and oranges. We can't make reasonable conclusions without controlling for those other factors.

Third, we tend to label and ritualize dynamics within a relationship that may well be temporary. I think most of us have had times in life in which we were leaders in our closest relationships and other times in which we needed a considerable amount of support. We talk about those dynamics more in a kinky setting than we would in the vanilla world. but it may not necessarily mean that they are more common.

All that said, I think there's no question that quite a few people address psychological issues through kink. Frankly, I think it's adaptive and useful a lot of the time. For example, if getting or giving a spanking every once in a while helps with anxiety or depression, what's the harm in that? People do the same thing with exercise that induces endorphin highs. Similarly, if a victim of childhood abuse takes control of his or her life by working through those issues using spanking play, great.

However, there are certainly people who participate destructively in kinky relationships, or stay in relationships that devolve into abuse. The fact that most of us are neither abused nor abusers doesn't mean that's true for all of us.

Finally, I agree with Ludwig that we should respect the privacy of figures who have retired from the spanking scene. If they wanted us to know all the reasons for their decisions, they would have discussed them publicly. They may have performed publicly at one time for the titillation of their audiences, but that doesn't mean we have a right to examine their personal lives.

Kaelah said...

Thank you all for your thoughtful comments and for sharing your personal experiences! I hope there are more comments like these to come.

You all raised very interesting questions which brought up a lot of new thoughts when I read them. At first I wanted to reply to you in a comment, but your contributions are so interesting and my comment got so long that I decided to publish a follow-up post soon, instead of writing an overlong comment.

I'm going to wait with that post for some days, though, and see what else our dear readers are going to share. So, please feel all free to join the discussion and to share your thoughts and experiences!

Abel1234 said...

Well done on raising sensitive topics so bravely.

It strikes me that the answer to your questions probably varies significantly from couple to couple, individual to individual in the scene. My own relationships are far from 'unidirectional power dynamics', even if I'm the one who administers any spankings: they're absolute exchanges of equals. The power resides as much with my partners as it does with me. I don't feel, or want to feel, 'looked up to' or 'superior'; the 'caring' flows both ways.

And the majority of the female friends I know in the scene (bottoms, subs, categorise them as you will) are very far indeed from being "less self-reliant and less adult than the average women their age". I know so many wonderful, independent, self-confident, successful women who happen to also enjoy being spanked.

That's not to say that there aren't relationships that are unidirectional in terms of the power; that there aren't those who want to be spanked because they lack independence (or crave the lack of it); or to pass judgment on their preferences. I just don't personally think one can generalise.

Pandora Blake said...

Firstly, I want to say that I think the whole question of "why" is loaded, and somewhat problematic. The question "why are you like this?" has been asked of, for example, queer people in a way that it never has of straight people. Often masquerading as disinterested or well-meaning psychology or science, it has the effect of pathologising difference. Would you ask someone "why DON'T you enjoy being spanked?" or "why don't you enjoy the intimacy of consensual power exchange?"

Asking the question simply of the minority sexuality comes to close to implying that it is abnormal, deviant or unhealthy. I find the whole question irritating. There is no such thing as an "abnormal" sexuality. All sexuality is normal.

Secondly, a quick note on self-harm. I'm an ex self-harmer and for me, I originally started cutting because I had a masochistic urge which I didn't know how to express (I was 9 and not yet sexually developed). I later learned through cultural references to use it as an emotional coping mechanism, but originally, it was a masochistic impulse. So that might go some way towards explaining a correlation between self harm and kink.

In general, I think it's very dangerous to try and psycho-analyse the experiences of someone else. When asking "why" we can only really speak about our own experiences. Trying to analyse someone else's motivations is patronising and rude. We all have our own prejudices, and it can be impossible to avoid them. Of course we can't help making judgments about whether someone else's relationship or lifestyle seems healthy to us, but we can't know the full story, and it's not fair on them to use those judgments to infer generalisations about that lifestyle as a whole.

Abel1234 said...


Interesting comment, but I'm afraid I rather disagree - much as I hugely respect you and your opinions and advocacy.

I don't - as I commented - actually entirely agree with Kaelah's premise in her post. But I absolutely don't see that asking "why" people like to spank or be spanked in any way implies that it's "abnormal, deviant or unhealthy".

Many blogs out there try to explore their writers' sexual and/or kinky interests, and where these originate from. I've pondered this in the past myself at the Spanking Writers. I welcome Kaelah's attempts to explore the issue, and think it's rather unfair to call her attempts to do so "irritating".

Ludwig said...

@ Georgia: You bring up an interesting theory. But it rests on the assumption that kinky people are more creative than the general population, and I have serious doubts that that assumption is true. It might be true for the blogging part of the community (then again, there are plenty of unimaginative blogs as well...). Or it might be true for the kinksters who are very heavily into roleplay. But I am pretty sure that is isn't true for the kinky population in general. Frankly, I have met plenty of kinksters who were outright dull, and not very creative at all...

Thanks for sharing your experiences with self-harm. I agree that, if a person is kinky and has experiences with self-harm, the two need not necessarily be connected. If you feel that the two are separate in your case, then chances are that you are right. Our intuitions about these things are often right (but not always).

@ Indy: You raise some valid points. I especially agree that it is hard to pick a subsection of vanilla people to compare to kinky people. As with you, my circle of vanilla friends and acquaintances features a narrower spectrum of ages, educational levels, personality types and so on. So that, in particular, can be a problem when comparing one's observations in the kinky scene with one's other observations in life.

In any case, Kaelah and I are as aware of these problems as you are, I think, and we are certainly not claiming to be in the possession of the one and only truth. We are upfront about the fact that our observations are, of course, subjective and probably not always correct (note the frequent usage of "seems to be" in Kaelah's post instead of "is"). Nonetheless, we wanted to share these observations and speculations because we find them interesting, and because we are interested in others' thoughts and experiences about the matter. The whole purpose of the post was to raise questions. We are not pretending to be able to answer them assuredly, and no one should be.

@ Abel: Like you, Kaelah and I know many wonderful, independent, self-confident, successful women who happen to also enjoy being spanked. We are not claiming that they don't exist, and we are not aiming to make generalisations here. I fully agree that one can't generalise, and I said as much in my previous reply to Our Bottoms Burn.

Still, the question of whether there *might* be a somewhat higher percentage of people with certain character traits / relationship preferences / experiences etc. in the kinky community than in the general population is a perfectly valid one, I think, and an interesting one, and it should be open for discussion if done in a careful, respectful way and without jumping to conclusions.

Ludwig said...

@ Pandora: I don't agree with the view that asking the "Why?" question about non-majority forms of sexuality implies that one considers these forms of sexuality objectionable or unhealthy. I would say that it depends entirely on who is asking the question and on how it is asked and discussed. Yes, the question is sometimes raised out of intolerance, but it can also be raised out of genuine, open-minded intellectual curiosity. If it is the latter, I as a kinky person have no objections to the question. I ask it myself and I find it quite fascinating myself.

You seem to be advocating that, because the question is sometimes asked out of intolerance and prejudice, it should not be asked at all. That strikes me as throwing out the baby with the bath water. It's a bit like saying that, because some people use Irish history to stir anti-English (or anti-Irish) sentiments, Irish history should not be discussed.

I don't think that the question "pathologises difference". If it does, it does so only because the people asking it are usually the intolerant, prejudiced ones. So I don't think that we are doing ourselves any favours by avoiding the question or pretending that it isn't interesting.

The reason why non-majority forms of sexuality attract more curiosity than majority ones is (or at least can be) simply that they are, well, non-majority. Hence unusual, hence interesting. In my view, that is a perfectly good reason for asking. Perhaps we can rephrase the "Why are you like this?", which might be interpreted as confrontational, and instead ask: "Why do these unusual forms of sexuality exist? What could be their potential causes?" If voiced like that, do you not consider these questions valid and interesting?

About your statement that: "There is no such thing as an 'abnormal' sexuality. All sexuality is normal." First, we have to note that "abnormal" has a double meaning - it can be used as a value judgment or simply as a descriptive term. But I think your statement is wrong either way. There are some forms of sexuality which are "abnormal" not just in a statistical sense, but also in the sense that they are harmful and morally objectionable. Pedophilia is one example.

Secondly, homosexuality, BDSM and such are not inherently harmful or morally objectionable, but they are certainly "abnormal" in the sense that they are non-majority. I have no objections against BDSM being labelled "abnormal" in that sense. I know gay people who have no objections against homosexuality being labelled "abnormal" in that sense. Again, I would say that the word choice is secondary. What matters is the intention of the speaker.

(continued below)

Ludwig said...

(continued from above)

You go on to say that: "Trying to analyse someone else's motivations is patronising and rude." Again, I don't believe that this is so. It can be done in a patronising and rude way, or it can be done in a careful, respectful way. If I feel that it is being done in a respectful way, I have nothing against other people speculating about my motivations or causes for kinkiness. I would actually consider it flattering - it's nice to attract interest. Of course, I would tell people if I thought that their theories were wrong.

I realise, of course, that speculation about the causes of kink (one's own or that of others) is a very sensitive area. And I am all for putting a lot of caution and respect into that discussion. Kaelah tried to do that in her post, and I did too when she asked me to read over it before publication (whether we succeeded or not is a question the readers have to answer).

But I am adamantly against erecting taboos in discussions (we are not going to make progress in sexual matters by replacing old taboos with new ones). Yes, some questions may be problematic or uncomfortable or even dangerous. But I don't think that this means that we should not be asking them. It simply means that we should be asking them in a careful, respectful manner and without presupposing the answers.

Emma Bishop said...

Hey Kaelah and Ludwig! Long time, no speak! I was just checking through my kinky bookmarks and thought i would catch up with your blog at last over the past year or so. Its great to see how busy you are and developing all sorts of stuff in your relationship :) Since I left the scene last year I kinda miss blogging myself so in the absence of a 'Bishy's Blog Part 3' (Never say Never lol!) I just want to say how much I am enjoying your exploits so far. It's re-igniting a few fires and bringing back sme familiar similar memories :)

Love and hugs to you both


Kaelah said...

@ Abel and Pandora:
Thanks a lot for your thoughtful comments and the important aspects which you have raised! I'm in the process of writing a follow-up post and I will reply to your comments in more detail in that post. I have already written a first and a second draft and I will completely rewrite the whole thing again before publishing it. While I don't agree with your suggestion, Pandora, that one shouldn't ask certain questions or make assumptions about other people's motives (especially when they are based on what these people have said about themselves), I'm fully with you about being careful when approaching topics like this one. Since I want to write about my prejudices as well in my next post and about where they come from, this will be a difficult task. But again, to my mind not talking about prejudices and their origins doesn't make anything better, from my point of view not discussing them is just a wasted opportunity to compare them with reality and learn from others.

@ Emma:
Thanks a lot for saying hi! Ludwig and I are indeed both very busy at the moment, kink- and vanilla-wise. I hope everything goes well for you. Many hugs! :-)