Saturday, June 6, 2009

The Ethics of Kink & Polyamory

Well, it was bound to happen. “Anonymous” sends a comment to this blog, beginning:

So you dare to lecture people about morality … , you being a self described 'kinky polyamorous' UU? Thanks for the laugh.

Yes, the classic assumption that exploring different ways of expressing eroticism and intimacy automatically disqualifies you from engaging in ethical discussions. How original.

Oh, by the way – the reason I didn’t approve the comment? Because it wasn’t relevant to the topic it was posted under. The person wasn’t even responding to a post on this blog, but responding to a comment I made on another website. If you’re reading this, Anon, would love to know your rationale for doing so, instead of posting on the site in question. But, I digress…

So let’s look at how this person views anyone who dares to identify as kinky:

[D]o you really think it's a good thing for you to be led around by the nose by your various perversions? Isn't there any part of you left that wants to be free? Any part of you that wants to rise above it? And if the only "good" for you is your perversion and you view everything in the context of that, why would you expect anyone to take you seriously when you pretend to care about moral issues?

Wow, talk about leaps of logic! Yet every single one of these is based on a greater assumption that form is more important than context – that the outward mechanics of your actions are more important than the emotional and relational context in which those actions are done.

It also shows a total lack of knowledge about the ethics by which we in the BDSM and polyamory communities abide.
~ We believe first and foremost in consent – that people should know what they’re getting into, and actively agree to it, before engaging in it.
~ We believe in safety – that we do as much as we can to minimize the risks of harm, within reason.
~ We believe in compassion and respect – that we do what we do with the goal of cultivating mutual benefit and joy.
~ Above all else, we believe in honesty and integrity in all that we do, without which the rest would be impossible.

The problem, of course, is that too many people have distorted and superficial views about BDSM (“those people are into pain”) and polyamory (“they’re just swingers having orgies”). There is much more subtlety and complexity to the kink and poly communities than many would realize, just like every other community out there.

Nor are we “obsessed with sex,” as that nameless commenter would so easily like to believe. If we talk a good deal about sexual matters in our communities, it is not just because of our sexual and relational identities, but because there is so little intelligent discourse about the erotic in mainstream society.

So, yes, I do expect people to take me seriously about moral issues. Imagine if those principles of consent, safety respect, compassion and honesty were lived out more fully in everything that we do. Imagine if we really listened to one another, instead of jumping to conclusions and rushing to label someone’s differences as “just plain wrong.” Imagine if we measured right and wrong not by a dusty old rule book, but by love and joy.

1 comment:

  1. "[D]o you really think it's a good thing for you to be led around by the nose by your various perversions? "

    Isn't this what they said about GLBT people? "Young man, Ignore the urges to be with a guy, and just find a nice woman to settle down with."

    If anything l feel much more content now that I am beginning to explore and engage my kinky side. Its amazing how much more content I am. This has been a much more subtler coming out for me than coming out as a gay man, but a coming out none the less..