How to Exclude Others with Grace and Style [Writing]

An implied nude in the poppy field

An implied nude in the poppy field by SeanJCPhoto, on Flickr

Original Link to WednesdayA’s Writing Reprinted with Author’s permission. Copyright 2013 WednesdayA


No, this title is absolutely NOT sarcastic! This is actually a Thing I think we (as a community, and ultimately as humans) frikkin’ need to discuss and treat as a skill.

So I will say this right off the bat. I am no expert in this. I do not have all of the answers. Some of the things I say might be wrong. I am playing instigator, or catalyst, or whatnot. I am also working on healing myself. I write to heal myself, and most of my writing seems to end up in expository/persuasive style. Go blame the professor I had for Great Books in college. I will set his stomach into a twist anyway by using metaphor to “prove” my point. 😛

So we have a big fat ‘ol umbrella called “BDSM” that includes a whole lot of stuff. We are already somewhat excluded from the rest of society, so we often come bearing that chip on our shoulder in some form. We come to a club, a munch, a conference, whatever—perhaps expecting to find Home.

Some do. Some don’t. Some find a combination (hey I can finally breathe the air on this planet, but I am allergic to all of the food! WTF??!!)

Somebody used the word “mosaic” to describe life this weekend. With apologies to him I am going to hijack that word and apply it to the community. Mosaic—smashed bits of glass or ceramic or whathaveyou that are worked into a design. You end up grouping like bits together in columns, rows, pictures, etc. So yeah, you have one piece but it is made of a hundred little pieces that like to hang with other little pieces that are similar to them.

We are going to make groups, clubs, ritual circles, seminars, workshops, events, etc. that are geared towards a certain demographic. A club like APEX is not going to even try to please every single person in the club with every single workshop they sponsor. I can guarantee you that if I end up doing speculum play as a demo I am going to have every second woman in my circle of friends puckering up their nether bits and running for the hills. Oh well. I am there for the 20 or so people who do show up. So is everyone else who functions as a presenter.

So we make groups and exclude non-like people via a variety of means. Self-selection is a common one. I offer something and you either like it and come, or pucker whatever body part I intend to assault on that particular day and go see _Zero Dark Thirty_ instead. Football bores me to tears, so I do other things while my friends throw Superbowl parties. And so on.

Other times we make potential attendees do a series of tasks before they can become a full member. These tasks often involve some kind of stress or sacrifice. You either drop out because it is too much damn work, or you carry on because the stress of the tasks bond you to the group, or you just think this thing is so damn cool the initiation hassle does not bother you, or you have some other reason to do it (to honor the memory of a Sister of Perpetual Indulgence who passed on) or whatever.

Other times we make the group invitation only. You hang out in the larger pool and show the qualities that are valued by this group and someone eventually comes along and invites you. I got invited to MAsT several years ago by someone I really respect. I told him I was deeply honored, but then self-selected out by explaining to him I was not into M/s. I’d been to three Butchmann’s experiences and realized there I could breathe the air but not eat the food. I tried the food. The results were short term but very painful for all involved. I had it on excellent authority that I did NOT fit into MAsT as it served the same perfectly good food that nourishes many but that does not mesh with my individual digestion. No loss, no foul.

Other times we require no initiation or invitation, but simply strongly suggest folks follow a series of guidelines to function in meetings, etc. If these guidelines rub you the wrong way, you find excuses not to go, or you simply drop out.

Sometimes you pay to enter—but people often split off from there.

You can also enter on the basis of ability or possession or context—if you can fly a hot air balloon or you own a horse or you are gay or you are recovering from cancer or you pass a health exam you are welcome.

Swell.

We need these groups. We need safe spaces to be Masters or slaves, or to discuss women’s issues, or to talk about cancer, or to sit zazen, or do whatever without folks present who have no interest, experience, or ability. We need these chances to network and become better at whatever it is we do or survive whatever has been handed to us.

But sometimes we run into problems.

  • 1. We get people who fog up our windows, or bang on them, or break them, or beg that there is a blizzard out there and if we do not Let Them In they will Simply Die. Yes, some of these are Millennials with an entitlement complex. Some of Gen Xers, Baby Boomers, or even The Greatest Generation members with an entitlement complex. You can blame it on that, sure. You might even be right. But there are other factors that can lead people to this sort of behavior. Read on.
  • 2. We get people who try to fake their way in. Next time you kvetch about bad tops, bad bottoms, lousy Masters, terrible slaves, and people who insist on throwing the wrong fucking end of the singletail repeatedly, consider the possibility that they feel like they have to do this to be accepted. Now, that is on them, for sure. At some point we all have to grow up and make our own choices. But, the path to maturity can be made clearer or more confusing based on how we ALL act. Since it is a common BDSM value to properly mentor the novices, I would invite you to read on and at least consider the role of the things I mention in creating so many out of place posers.
  • 2.5 We get group disruptive behavior. We get folks who otherwise “fit” but have poor social skills, and axe to grind, whatever. More below.
  • 3. The group has incongruity between stated values and actual practice. This is part of every human group, but the problem occurs when you say one thing and do another ALL THE TIME. It pisses people off. This is the corporation that says (loudly and often) they value talent, regardless of its source, but then promote only family members, or people of a certain religion, or folks of questionable talent, or the skilled social schmoozers who are also good at golf and join the executive golf group every Sunday.
  • 4. We get folks who exclude folks who have no choice or consent. Ask anyone who grew up in a neighborhood with a dominant, very well organized and very busy religion. Kids cannot rent a U-Haul and move, and often they do not understand why they are getting bullied or cannot make friends. Try talking to a disabled person stuck in a similar situation because they do not have a real choice regarding where they live. Try speaking to any poor, disadvantaged group who cannot simply Get Out and find that they are denied things basic to survival by the dominant group. It is one thing to prefer to hang out with your own culture, celebrate your own holidays, maintain your own views of the function of family and community—and quite another to find you cannot even maintain the essential functions of human life. That is not acceptable exclusion—that is oppression. Don’t corner people. That causes wars.
  • 5. We get zero sum thinking. We have 100 people and enough corn for 50. Who gets the corn? The males? People with a certain surname? Purebloods? Members of the Spearmaker’s guild? Whomever the Chief sez? The green people? The blue people? Sometimes you are truly in a lurch, but often the problem is lack of creative thinking. Find a creative thinker and pick their brain. Ever eat squirrel?
  • 6. We get groups who become myopic. They become so enamored of themselves and their ways that they either forget other people exist, or (worse) they look on these folks with pity. I am going to grow some ‘nads here and make a few direct hits.

    • a. Spiritually based M/s is a most excellent, admirable, awesome path. However, it is NOT THE ONLY FRICKING WAY. Atheists and agnostics can make excellent Master/slave practitioners if they are committed to the path, have excellent communication skills, take the time to develop leadership and service skills, and in short have the integrity to get good at this thing they want to do. When you call them inferior or shake your head in pity at them, it really pisses them off.
    • b. M/s is a most excellent, awesome, admirable, growth producing, and difficult path. I admire people who do it well. I endeavor to honor their protocols. I have had the high honor of using some of my skills at times to help them on their way. Wonderful, wonderful stuff. I bawled my head off this weekend when I heard one of the speeches of one of the M/s contestants and subsequently asked her for a copy. I root for Arizona folks like I would root for a football team if I gave a damn about football. And—M/s IS NOT THE ONLY FRIKKIN’ WAY TO BE A KINKSTER. It is also not the sole goddamn pinnacle of kinkster existence. It takes a high level of commitment, yes. So does becoming a first class anything. I did not give my life over to become a world class Olympic gymnast. I did not spend my days at this, did not spend hours in training, did not spend hours in rehab trying to get my body back from the latest injury, did not, in essence, give my life over to this endeavor when the other girls were dating girls and fussing over makeup. Does this make me inferior to the gymnast? Does it? I am going to admire the apparently well-functioning M/s couple because they took the time to hone their art, not because I think M/s is the sole gate to heaven.
    • c. There are a bazillion ways to practice M/s and D/s. I am weary of people new to the scene telling me that they have been told their D/s path is All Rong. Rather than telling, try facilitating. Ask open ended questions. What do you want? What are you getting? Do you keep falling into sand traps you don’t like? Why? If you are going to take the responsibility to tell someone they are Rong, ask for their consent first. If you get it, get to know them and where they are coming from, please. If you have developed myopia, try going to a strange land and asking their D/s couples how things are done and why. Visit the lands of Gor, TPE, Woo, DD, New Jersey, and that strange couple in the corner of the dungeon who have been together for ages. You cannot guide anyone in a closed system—you can only indoctrinate them, or piss them off, or destroy their confidence to the point they never try. If this sounds like too much work for you, STFU unless they approach YOU.
    • d. Ye Olde Guard training from the House of Awesome means a lot to you. You scrubbed toilets with a toothbrush in your mouth for three years, had to run laps, served every member of the House of Awesome tea balanced on your back while crawling naked on rice grains. You earned your boots, your vest, your pants, your cover. If you wanted to be a Master you were trained. You did Daniel-San tricks with floggers until you could knock flies out of the air. You wear your back patch with pride. This apprenticeship, this experience was absolutely formational and transformational for you. It is the biggest gift you have ever received in this life. You transfer what you learned to your job and your dealings with others and you are sought by others for your character and gifts. Of course you want to energetically give this gift to everyone else in the world.

      Don’t.

      Please.

      Discuss your path, please. Share it. Some students will come and you will get to train them. Others will admire you and count their lucky stars that they have other choices. Share it. But don’t try to force it down a throat, or sigh in pity when the “yunguns” do not want anything to do with it. Look, your formative experience took place in 1982, or 1972, or whatever. It may have been the only game in town. Gay people were verboten back then and kink had to take place 2 fucking miles underground. It took place in a context THAT NO LONGER EXISTS. Laziness, narcissism, entitlement, etc. exist in any era and group, even among other graduates of the House of Awesome. Many of us have already hiked up our own tortuous mountains that have granted us character, wisdom, and poise and we bring that to BDSM. Others are going to be fucktards no matter what House they join or what goddamn pit they fall into. Live dignity, integrity, and honor to the best of your ability and many of us will use you as a model, even if we do not convert to your church.
    • e. Spiritual, cathartic scenes are awesome. I am very partial to this path myself. I like facilitating transformation. I hope to become better at it in time. Does that make my scenes more worthy than my neighbors? Am I more worthy than that über skilled top who can do amazing, sensual things with floggers? Nope. Heck, I am probably eyeballing him and trying to screw up the courage to ask him for some pointers.
    • f. Oh, about 2-3 years into this adventure of mine I was discussing hanky code colors with a friend and long time community Master. It was mostly educational for me as I asked questions about meaning, origin, etc. Then he totally floored me when he told me I could legitimately flag black. Black? Angelic little me? Now come on–it couldn’t have been all of the paddles I broke before I began to seek out harder exotic woods. It could not have been about the time I helped sew someone to a piece of dungeon furniture with monofilament and about a bazillion piercings. Heck, there is no way it could have been about me deciding to overcome my fear of needles with about ten 20 guage piercings followed by 2 fucking 8 guage hooks and about 3 hours of yanking. Nah….

    But herein lies my point. We commonly give extra kudos and admiration to those who play heavy or are hard core. Ack. Back to that ol’ heirarchy again. I have seen amazing sensual players who do stuff that I cannot do well. Am I superior to them because I create a bloody mess every Halloween?

    What about the people who truly have one kink. They get accused of Not Growing. Now, I am all for trying stuff out–but if you have a fellow who has been zapped, whipped, poked, probed, prodded, flogged, sissified, made into a submissive, made into a slave, and goddess knows what all and he still says he just wants his butt beat–respect that. Hell, respect the people who don’t want to try stuff out now or ever. This is not a damn decathlon. We don’t take mandated Kinkster Competency Tests based on how many kinks we have mastered. If it ever gets to that I am hanging up my hooks and donating my specula to a needy third world country. I still cannot tie a knot worth a damn because I don’t give a flip about rope bondage. I don’t give a flip about one of the classic mainstays of BDSM. Gimme an incomplete on my transcript–or accept people for what they do and get to know them for who they are.

    A wise man once told me that the definition of a heavy top is one that weighs 200 lbs. Alas, I meet that definition currently and I need to go on a friggin’ diet. 😛

    Excellence, competence, safety, and care are values that I hope are common to most. Integrity, honor, humility and character are qualities that are not isolated to one group or one generation. These are qualities which can be applied to anything, whether you are partial to running for a leather title or whether you are partial to doing crazy things to people’s hair and drawing on their bodies with gel pens. Or— whether you are partial to doing both at the same time. Integrity and competence may lead you to strike out on your own despite a disability, or it may lead you to take your hard earned money and purchase a dishwasher for your extended family. The values are there. The expression of them is situation and culture specific.

    Instead of trying to get the yunguns and the noobs to follow traditions that may mean nothing to them, how do we help the yunguns and noobs find a way to express basic positive human values in what they WANT to do? Shit changes, but values are extremely portable.

    Meeting people where they are at and within their existing cultural context is a valuable life skill and a nice cure for myopia.

  • 7. Hoarding. Oh this is a personal fave of mine. Somebody somewhere chucked a piece of cloth into some liquid fat and lit it. Viola! A light that stays on after the sun goes down. So you are a tribe and you exist in a land with other tribes and you all trade stuff. You hunt the Mammoth and weave stuff which led to the aforementioned Perpetual Light discovery. Your neighbors gather stuff, make chamois, create medicines, whatever. You have your feasts with your tribe but you are friends with the other folks.

    And—you now have yerself Perpetual light. Which, of course, was given to you by the god Powdered Tahini. You decide you were given this light because you were worthy and worthy soon leads on to better than in this case and so you want to protect the use of this light because it is now sacred and you keep it amongst yourselves. Only members of the Powdered Tahini tribe get the light. Lord forbid anyone else gets it. You are not worried about practical issues such as people burning up their huts or using the last of the winter fat stash on this thing, resulting in late season famine. You really think that you have to protect the sacredness of this thing that was the result of some six year old pyromaniac’s experimentations. Or worse, you got this light from some visiting tribe who got it from the Ancient Land of The Pyromaniacs who have been using it for a thousand years—but now it is YOURS. You try not to let anyone to close—but someone does and you get royally pissed because now they have your sacred light.

    Um, your neighbors are not going to be pleased. Just sayin’. You can weave after dark in a hut during bad weather without smoking yourself out. This one might just earn you the rock throwing variety of gate crasher. You are also saying that you are the only ones in the world that can Do Good Things with this light and there is no thought that others can use it too. This particular attitude definitely does not get the Dale Carnegie seal of approval for neighborliness. This may be a combination of Myopia and Zero Sum.

So, here is my (not entirely inclusive) List of Rulz for how to exclude people with grace and style. This list will be out shortly on Amazon 😛

  • 1. Be crystal clear about what your group is about. Post the qualifications, post the rules. You don’t have to apologize, just go out there and do it. If you think you do not have rules, qualifications, and preferences, it is past time you did some serious self examination. Then look at the restrictions. Do they all support the functioning of the group, or does any of them hit on personal prejudices, etc. that really do not effect the group mission. Redact those, or change the group mission.
  • 2. Don’t think everyone has to be in your group or believe what you believe. Don’t love the rest of us so much you constantly try to convert us. Don’t look at me with pity when I say “I don’t do XYZ” and ask me in plaintive tones why I don’t. Don’t keep telling me I HAVE to try this thing that has absolutely revolutionized your life with its perfection and glory. I may have a fucking excellent reason for not trying. I may have enough integrity to both myself and the group not to shoehorn myself into something that does not fit.
  • 3. Feel free to honor especially wonderful group members, but take care never to cross over from “These are some awesome people who have done some amazing things in our field” to “These people are better than everyone else and have reached ‘The One Twue Pinnacle of Human Existence’”. If you do nothing else, do not do this in public. Consider not doing it in private either—some people don’t know how to keep their superiority to themselves and if your group becomes known for that attitude you will generate both haters and gate crashers. Now “A Pinnacle of Human Existence” is quite nice. There are many of those.
  • 4. If you develop or discover or are gifted something of value, deal with it with integrity, not ego. Keep and honor your unique ritual or Kool-Aid recipe, but let go of the fucking orange juice. There is plenty at the store for you and me and I may well prefer to make screwdrivers. Know the difference between what is yours and what is just a tool that can also be used for other purposes. If the tribe you borrowed that tool from is oppressed or has been driven nearly extinct, remember to honor them too.
  • 5. If you are the powerful and dominant tribe, deal with that fact with integrity, not ego. Don’t crush the begonias. Show pride and power AND respect other life forms. Speak that respect once in a while. This is less important if you are running a tiny gaming group, but if you are the dominant force in a community, respectfully encouraging people that don’t fit to find their own path without pitying them for not fitting into yours will preserve the integrity of your tribe.
  • 6. Don’t pity others for not doing it your way. The ego deprived will come after you and try to join your little coffee klatch and fuck it up because they DON’T really belong. Now you have cultural integrity issues.
  • 7. Be honest about group structure. If you let anyone into your ritual, but only want to allow people who fit a certain profile to actually conduct the ritual, just say so. Don’t say you are totally inclusive when you are not. If you have an inner circle, just say it. This is especially true if you are looking for people who have both a skill set AND a specific set of beliefs. Any idiot can burn sage, but if you would prefer a practicing Pagan to do it, fleeping say so.
  • 8. If you join a tribe, don’t forget about old friends. Finding a group that eats the same food you eat and breathes the same atmosphere you breathe can be intoxicating and you will want to spend all of your time on your new Mothership. Your old friendships may have to shift. Just take care to honor the friends who are suddenly no longer on your path. Downshifting a friendship due to shifting interests may cause short term grief, but suddenly being dumped causes confusion and anger and sometimes resentment towards your particular Mothership.
  • 9. Speaking of old friends, please consider NOT completely walking away from them. They can save you from myopia and zero sum mentality. Human tribes are powerful tools and can be used for light or dark. Please recognize the capacity for the dark and compensate by getting out of the hut once in a while and seeing some other things.
  • 10. Deal with behaviors, not people. If you want to kick someone out because they constantly interrupt, go off topic, arrive loudly and late, etc. TELL them and give them a chance to mend their ways. They may be unaware of their impact on others. Avoid labels. Saying: You interrupt all of the time, go off topic, and talk about spiders on the wall that I cannot personally see” is better than saying “you are psycho” or the even less helpful “I think we are a poor fit (but I don’t have the balls to tell you why).

Edit: Something else just clicked as I was responding to someone. There are two types of exclusion that I am writing about.

  • #1 is the type of exclusion that I am really, truly trying to promote here. It is the type that creates and honestly advertizes the boundaries of your group. It is the type that deals with those who do not fit in with respect and dignity. It is the type that loves what they do and who they are, but that also knows there is a big ol’ world out there composed of a bunch of people who are Not Exactly Like You.
  • #2 is the soul destroying stuff that has finally launched me on this particular jihad. It is the kind that says “You are not like us and we do not understand you, therefore YOU DO NOT EXIST.” Or, alternately, you SHOULD NOT EXIST. Or, YOU DO NOT EXIST UNLESS YOU CONVERT. Nobody has that fucking right.

IMHO–skillfully learn to exclude in the first way, or you will unconsciously exclude in the second manner and end up harming people you never intended to harm.

To the slaves out there—you are welcome. Now do not send me hate mail. 😛


Original Link to WednesdayA’s Writing Reprinted with Author’s permission. Copyright 2013 WednesdayA

Speak Your Mind

*

Visitor Statistics - - www.HEX.xxx
Best CDN