Reading Facebook and other means of social media, I feel as though people have gotten their panties in a wad over absolute petty stuff. This need for constant PC has gotten completely out of hand. The majority of people I follow are somehow involved in leather and kink like myself, and they are sharing stories of people getting offended over incredibly stupid things, including the half-time show of the Superbowl. It’s as though people are freely exercising their ‘right to whine’.
I remember years ago Bart and I presented an introduction to Puppy Play workshop at a popular kink event. During the class, we try to show all facets of puppy play and the many directions you can take it. One facet we demonstrated involved a bondage approach where I ‘forced’ Bart into being a pup – wrestled him to the floor, locked mitts on his fists, muzzled him so he could only make pup noises – that kind of thing. It was great fun and many found the scene to be quite hot. One gentleman however, an older man who identified as a pup, did not like what he saw and later complained about us to the organizers saying, “That’s just wrong!! No one should ever be forced to be a pup! What Sir Dart taught was wrong and that’s not how puppies play!!”
I’m not kidding. It really happened.
I want to tell people, “If you’re going to be offended this easily, you shouldn’t be in kink and BDSM. Period.” As a presenter and educator, I have reached a point where I have to spend more energy on the lexicon of words and phraseology I use rather on the actual material because we have turned into a generation of thin-skinned people who get offended easily. It’s quite ridiculous because if you think about it, there is nothing ‘politically correct’ about kink and BDSM. It’s edgy, it pushes comfort boundaries, it plays with all kinds of areas we consider ‘taboo’ and that’s part of what makes it so fucking arousing. Yet because there are some who are intent on getting their feelings hurt by not being somehow included in what is being presented, we have to present the material in a kind of homogenized way, and that makes it lose its appeal.
I am currently working on a class for an upcoming event, and I have been advised on some very meticulous ways of phrasing certain things so as not to alienate others. I will confess that it has a very constrictive feeling to it and some of the phraseology does not align with my perspective. I have been on the verge of backing out of teaching the subject because there really isn’t any way for me to present the material as *I* know it without others getting offended. What I really want to say sometimes is, “my name is Sir Dart and I’m a faggot. I don’t play with women because I’m not sexually attracted to them and some of their body parts I find actually repulsive. I enjoy tying up men and doing things to them when they’re restrained including rape fantasies. And yes on occasion I like to bareback and I know it’s dangerous and that’s one of the reasons it’s so fucking arousing and also I know we’re not supposed to use drugs or alcohol when we play but I have on occasion and it was fun too.”
Can I get an ‘AMEN’?
Being “easily offended” is what is known as a narcissistic injury. It’s being reactionary to something due to your own shit and making the presented information about YOU in some form. Everyone has opinions, and opinions are healthy to have. What is not healthy is believing that your opinion is your identity; that it is somehow a representation of who you are. When someone challenges or disagrees with your opinion, if you’re offended it’s because you haven’t distinguished your opinion as being separate from your sense of self. Most likely your self-esteem is also damaged.
I lived in Toronto for over nine years, and I can remember how I would get butthurt any time a Canadian friend would make a derogatory comment about American politics. I would find myself getting so worked up and angry because I felt like what this person was saying was a personal attack on me. It was as if I saw myself as the ‘representation’ of the U.S. in that moment and I would find myself angrily defending who I was because I was an American. The truth was it had absolutely nothing to do with me as a person and ironically I would usually agree with what the person was saying about our government. Thing is, I would react because I was insecure in myself, and reading far too much into other people’s opinions.
So for those of you who are easily offended and often make your reactionary voices heard, I’d like you to please consider the following:
- You are offended because you WANT to be. You genuinely believe a part of your core has been attacked in some way and in order to make yourself feel more powerful and less dominated, you are speaking up in a reactionary tone. There’s no bringing you down from that because you WANT to be there. You really honestly believe that you are getting a payoff from being reactionary. The truth is you’re not.
- You’re not actually reacting to what is being said, but to your own stuff being triggered. Take a moment and actually listen to what is being said from a place of neutrality, rather than from the filter of your own shit. You’ll find it actually feels better.
- Oddly enough, it’s NOT about you. We are in a day and age of egocentricity, where we believe everything is somehow connected to us. You combine this with the information age and technology where a person feels they can safely express themselves behind their keyboard, and suddenly everything is all about you. It’s not. You can actually sit this one out and you won’t ‘disappear’.
- You may receive an apology or appeasement of some kind from the person or party who unintentionally offended you. If there is an emotional investment in the relationship of any kind, including a friendship – then you can bank on its sincerity and put the hurt behind you with a greater understanding of one another. Apologies are great in this regard because they get us to stop coming from a place of ego and actually embrace humility. However, if you do not have a direct relationship with the offender, half the time it’s just to get you to go away. Seriously. Many of us who have been titleholders and presenters have accidentally said or done something that has led to somebody or some organization being offended, and we’ve had to ‘do the right thing’ by humbly providing a public apology and taking ownership of the miscommunication. This results in our having to coin an email of humility of some kind do all kinds of politicking to show the community we are good people. And once we’ve done that, we’ve gone to our peers talking about you behind your back and how incredibly annoying and petty you’re being and that really all we want if for you to go away because you’re ruining it for the rest of us. Yes, it’s true. We’ve told you we’re sorry, and we still think you’re a royal pain in the ass. And knowing it is half the battle.
Now all this being said, there is a constructive approach to being heard and having an exchange of information if that is what both parties are genuinely committed to. It’s actually possibly to engage in a dialogue that does not come from a place of reaction, where the parties involved can respect the difference in opinions but not draw personal conclusions of attack from them. In order for that to happen, you have to take out the actual reaction to what is being said, and hear what the person is trying to convey. Not just the words, but where they are coming from in what they are expressing. Be open to having an appreciation of this person’s stance without feeling that to do so you are losing a part of yourself. Agree to disagree and do so freely without any venom. It’s a muscle that takes time to strengthen, but truthfully it’s the more evolved approach to differences.
Last of all, sometimes it’s perfectly okay to give up the need to be “right” all the time. Some of the wisest words on this came from my mother who told me, “Some people would rather be right, than happy.”