Sunday, July 31, 2011

My kinky world.



With only a few sharply-delineated exceptions, I live in a sexy little bubble. There is not a single friend I see regularly who isn't kinky and pretty firmly entrenched in the sex-positive, enthusiastic-consent, gender-liberated, social-justice-for-people-who-fuck-funny mindset. I spend a lot of my time in an apartment where all the roommates are kinky, I go to parties where everyone is kinky; hell, I play board games where everyone around the table is kinky. If I knitted, I'm sure I would be in a kinky knitting circle. It's a god damn way of life.

The funny thing is, it's gotten to the point where I have a bit of culture shock in the real world. When I go to work or talk to my family, the social rules are different--and not just in the "whether it's okay to talk about your cooter" sense, but in the entire way people interact. The unkinky world is simultaneously more reserved and less polite, if that makes sense; there's more concern about being obscene and less about being intrusive. (Also, I think my coworkers don't understand why I jump three feet when they casually lay a friendly arm across my shoulders.) They talk a lot about "men do doobidy do, women do daddidy dah" and I always grit my teeth a little, because I suspect that my own thoughts on gender would be just as annoying to them. I don't want to lay all this on "I'm so much more enlightened;" in many ways, I'm just acclimated to a different set of social expectations.

I'm glad to be a part of the kink community, although in many ways, I could get the same benefits from being part of the Albanian-American community, or perhaps an Elks Lodge. It's a circle of closely interconnected friends who meet regularly, include each other in their social events, and have just a little more warm feelings and trust for "one of ours" than we do for "an outsider." The group, while by no means a fair demographic sample, has some people from just about every walk of life. There's little sub-cliques and people who are "big fish in a small pond" types and people on the fringes of the group. We don't all like each other, but we definitely know each other. And even with all the intra-group gossip and grudges and micro-wars, that's a warm happy thing.

Really, there's only one major downside to the whole kink community thing: If you're an Elk, you can tell people about it. (Although, in fairness, if you're an elk, you cannot.) The particular warm happy community I belong to is one that's considered obscene by a lot of outsiders and dangerous by quite a few. So when I try to say "I'm a member of a lovely group of friends," what comes out sounds more like "I'm sexually aroused by human suffering." For good and ill, this makes the kink community even more insular, because there's a lot of things--things as big as our committed intimate relationships--we only feel really comfortable talking about with each other.

Still, I'm glad to have this community. It's good to be part of an "us," it's good to have a little prefab pool of friends, and I'll take it over the Elks any day, for one simple reason: I never got nearly this many screaming orgasms from an Elk.

71 comments:

  1. M&M art! Why didn't I think of that?

    Also, I think my coworkers don't understand why I jump three feet when they casually lay a friendly arm across my shoulders.

    You mean other people don't have a particularly strong personal space field around their shoulders? (Although I personally tend to screech or snarl rather than jump.)

    Although, in fairness, if you're an elk, you cannot.

    Because of not having opposable thumbs or vocal cords conducive to speaking humanoid languages, or because being therian/otherkin tends to be taken badly like being kinky does?
    (I'm species-queer. I haven't told anyone offline about it, even though my dad is a self-identified furry* and my parents would probably take it well.)

    *Which, admittedly, he doesn't really talk about offline either. However, Mom and I both read his Livejournal, and each of the three knows that the other two know. There's this two-way network of knowing regarding the three of us and his furriness.

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  2. I confess I was only thinking of ciselk, but the point probably stands either way.

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  3. I'm a member of a large circle of nerdy friends, and I sometimes find the same stigma. We do things like, for example, run an anime/gaming convention. Cosplay is old hat to me and so on. As a girl who has spent considerable time doing things like playing Magic: The Gathering and Dungeons and Dragons and playing violent video games, I find I also get a lot of really WEIRD looks if I'm not careful about who I tell it to. It's almost definitely not as stigmatized as kink, but I still sometimes think that other people are not nearly as...open minded as they could be. They just immediately see someone in an anime costume and pre-judge them as weird, nerdy, abnormal, etc.

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  4. This. This so much.

    In general, I spend my time mostly with people from university* (science, yay!), and while not everyone there is kink, I'm very used to everyone being queer/feminist/gay/kink/slut/trans-friendly, to the point where everyone that isn't, is quickly excluded from social life.

    Whenever I actually interact with people that aren't young and accepting it's hard. I have to consciously concentrate on remembering the social rules, and that it isn't going to be helpful for anyone if I start telling people exactly what I think of their last piece of bigotry.

    And I occasionally fail, typically when I've drunk alcohol. The number of times where I've caught myself in giving a lecture about feminism or other subjects close to me while drunk, is quite high.

    By this point, my only interactions with people that doesn't accept pretty much anything, is my customers (bartender), where I rarely talk with them for me to get seriously annoyed by it, and family. For the rest, I simply choose not to interact with people I consider douchebags.

    *Specifically, the part of university people that are into being social constantly, playing revue's (quite often involving cross-dressing) and generally accepting everyone as they want to be accepted.

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  5. May I ask what Elk Lodge is? I'm scared to google it.

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  6. Anon - It's a charitable/fraternal organization, sort of like the Kiwanis or Rotary Club. It's not anything pervy.

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  7. Very much this. As far back as I can remember, the vast majority of my friends have been queer, and I do mean that. I had no friends in elementary school--though the rumour mill's been telling me that the girl I carpooled with to music lessons, which is as close as I got to a friend, might be a lesbian. Then, in high school, I made a group of friends, assuming they were all straight, and one by one, almost every member of said group came out. And coincidences like that have kept happening since then.

    It wasn't until I got my first office job that I was surrounded by vast quantities of straight people. And then I spent the entire time staring at all the married, expecting couples, being completely confused by them.

    ANYWAY, being surrounded by queer people has given me a very skewed view of reality. It's funny, because I know queer people who DON'T exist in a circle of gay, and their interactions with the world are completely different than mine. They're not shocked at all when everyone around them is married and has babies and I keep going, "Whuh?"

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  8. Andy - It's interesting that you mention that "everyone turned out to be queer" thing, because of the people I hung out with in high school and even middle school, a startling number turned out to be kinky.

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  9. "I don't want to lay all this on "I'm so much more enlightened;" in many ways, I'm just acclimated to a different set of social expectations."

    I agree that, in most cases, different social expectations and cultures and subcultures and ways of relating to people are a great thing. But when a particular set of social expectations are discriminatory and involve oppression, a more accepting and less discriminatory alternative really IS better (not that anything's perfect.)

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  10. Holly, were you surprised by it? Because I remember by the time the 6th or 7th one of us came out within a year, we were at the point of going, "Yeah, no, we don't believe you." Just because, you know, as a queer teenager, you tend to believe you are ALL ALONE FOREVER and there are maybe 3 other gay people in the entire world and they can't possibly all go to school with you. That doesn't make sense.

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  11. I don't relate to a lot of that, although I might not say all the offensive things that most "real world" people would - I do read this blog!
    Anyway, I relate strongly to irritation at "men to doobidy do, women do daddidy dah." It just baffles me to hear it these days! A coworker of mine was making some joke about how duh, if she had gone to *that* action movie with her boyfriend, then they had to go to *this* romantic comedy tonight, duh. I was supposed to laugh and nod knowingly, but instead I asked her if she'd enjoyed the action movie. It's such a small thing, but I just can't even joke these sorts of stereotypes anymore.

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  12. Andy - I was surprised, because I didn't find any of this out at the time. We all pretended to be vanilla (-ish) in high school, and then I would catch up with them several years later and hear "yeah, I write bondage porn" or "I've been to that bondage club, what of it?"

    I was Internet-savvy enough to know that there were other kinky people in the universe, but I never expected it to be the people I'd known all along.

    (I'm hesitant to draw too many equivalences between queer and kinky, because I feel like the "born that way" factor is proven about queer and very uncertain about kinky, and kinkiness is easier to keep hidden. But it is amazing how my friends turned out one after the other to be just as freaky as me, even though none of us had really known it at the time.)

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  13. That's my kitchen!July 31, 2011 at 11:42 PM

    I've felt a lot like this recently. A woman I met not long ago decided it would be totally ok to play with my pigtails without asking first, and internally I FREAKED out. In a more mainstream context her behavior may be weird, but it's not something to flip out over, so I had to really control my reaction even though I consider touching hair as something you MUST have consent for.

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  14. I'm not so sure you could get the benefits you get from your kinky friends just anywhere.

    This is going to sound odd, but I'm pretty sure you don't like your kinky friends because they're close to you. Rather, I'm pretty sure you're close to them because you LIKE them, and I'm pretty sure you like them because they're committed to social justice and respect and egalitarianism and all those other things we value*.

    Believe me: people who are committed to respect are a rare commodity in this political climate.

    That, methinks, is why you experience culture shock: because there are so damn many people who are NOT committed to respect.

    *Forgive me if I've used a term that is, for whatever reason, on the outs.

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  15. @Brin

    Species-queer? Wow. I thought that nonsense about 'multiple systems' was ridiculous, but this may just take the cake. You give them an inch, and they'll take a mile!

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  16. @Brin

    'Species-queer'? That's a thing Wow. How delightful! That's nearly as fascinatingly weird as this business of 'multiplicity'.

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  17. I think the last Anon answered far more gracefully than I could, but:

    What exactly is being "given" or "taken" here? If someone tells you they're an elk and they deserve free hay and oats (or, um, whatever elk eat) from you, that's something to be concerned about. If someone tells you they're an elk and wants nothing more than to be acknowledged with "you're an elk all right," that hardly seems like a mile.

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  18. I'm not sure feeling so comfortable at home in any group with a clear inside/outside division is really such a positive thing. I've never been, so this is the perspective of someone who always feels like an outsider to some degree, but the idea of closed groups like that, however nice and well-intentioned, freaks me out a bit. It seems to make it easier to automatically think less (in many different ways) of any one on the outside.

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  19. Oona - Maybe my experience is different, but when I haven't been part of a group of some sort, I haven't felt open to everyone but to no one. It just made everyone an outsider to me.

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  20. You just haven't met the right elk yet!

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  21. The big difference between Elks and pervs is SEX. Mature adults don't talk about intimate matters with those who are not intimates. I'm not concered that you feel you can't talk about your sex life with others, I'm more concerned about appropriate boundaries and your willingness to talk about your sex life with non-intimates.

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  22. I sometimes worry that Internet culture and the vastness of human society make it easy for people to immure themselves in monolithic culture and forget what else is out there, so as someone on the outside it's nice to read this.

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  23. Anon - That's lovely; now go to a cat blog and tell them that mature adults don't make such a big deal about cats, and you're very concerned about this.

    Less snarkily, there's a lot of blurry overlap between talking about sex and talking about my life. I have no desire to tell my coworkers that I had a threesome--but I would love to be able to say that I'm in a triad relationship. I don't want to talk about getting thrown against the wall and punched and bitten at a play party--but I would love to say that I went and I had a great time.

    Imagine how stifled you'd feel if you weren't allowed to tell any "non-intimates" that you went on a date or to a party, or even that you had a partner. Imagine having to lie or evade to conceal the fact that you were dating someone. It would get to you, and it wouldn't be about sex.

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  24. Small-minded anon: I thought that nonsense about 'multiple systems' was ridiculous, but this may just take the cake.

    Actually, calling plurality nonsense is even worse. You're merely* denying my identity. You're denying other people's entire existence.

    *Not to say that this isn't also bad.

    You give them an inch, and they'll take a mile!

    So? There are plenty of miles in the universe. I can have one of my very own without detracting from anyone.
    (Also, what's the inch you were supposedly giving?)

    Other anon: How delightful! That's nearly as fascinatingly weird as this business of 'multiplicity'.

    I know! The diversity of sapient life is wonderful, even sticking to the ones with human bodies.
    (It would probably have been better for you to put a name down, though, even a name you've never used before and never will again. At first, I thought yours was a re-phrased double post.)

    Holly: If someone tells you they're an elk and wants nothing more than to be acknowledged with "you're an elk all right," that hardly seems like a mile.

    Plus it would stop all of those awkward conversations.
    [at a movie theatre, waiting for the previews to start]
    Trivia put on screen to pass the time for the early birds: Who said this: "Sometimes, I just don't understand human behaviour."
    Me: Every non-human ever.
    Friend: Some humans too. Haven't you ever felt like that?
    Me: Uh...um...
    (tempted to say: Like I said. Every non-human ever.)
    ...all the time.
    Friend: *does not notice awkward pause, or at least doesn't say anything about it*

    True story.
    (If you were wondering, the trivia attributed it to C-3PO.)

    It's really not that hard not to assume humanity. I make sure to call my brother's engine-noise impersonation* "lawnmower on legs" rather than "human lawnmower", for instance. (Especially my brother, because it could be genetic for all I know.)

    *It's quite impressive.

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  25. I think part of why mainstream stuff is so worked up about obscene instead of intrusive is that a lot of public things are targeted towards people with kids, or at least to be acceptable for children. None of my friends have kids, so of course we do things that wouldn't be appropriate for them. And when you're in a subculture, even if some people have kids, you have something besides them to relate to each other about.

    It seems like when people have kids, especially women, everything they do socially (mainstream socially? Whatever that means) has to be filtered through their relationship with kids, even when the kids aren't around. I want to have kids eventually but I'm a little terrified of being shunted into mommy conversations whenever I talk to adults.

    @Brin - I hope this isn't too prying, but I've never met anyone who said they were species-queer, and I'm curious what you mean by it. Do you not identify with human physiology?

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  26. Being equally close to everyone pretty much *has* to mean not being particularly close to anyone. For closeness to be safe takes quite a bit of work--either filtering out the people with whom closeness is unsafe, or learning how to protect yourself from them. No one is able to do that work with everyone they might meet. So if we are to have closeness, we need communities, and "all people" is too big to work as a core community.

    My big kink is hypnosis, and there is no WAY I would ever feel safe enough to play with that without a fairly tight and closed circle of people.

    So I don't think it's a problem that the kink community is a community. It has to be in order to work: being sexually open with completely random people is too risky for most of us.

    It becomes a problem when we write off the rest of humanity, or disparage other communities. Which doesn't mean we can't say, hey, what you're doing is hurtful. But it does mean we shouldn't pile up a big lump of stereotypes around the perfectly non-hurtful stuff. I say potato, you say potahto, and that needs to be okay.

    I really dislike it when my fellow upper-class liberals toss off spiteful comments abou, say, NASCAR fans. NASCAR doesn't do it for me, D&D doesn't do it for you--no harm in that either way, and no reason we should be nasty about it.

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  27. If we see how the culture of shaming and gender-role-policing leads to bloody massacres when taken to its insane conclusions, then I wouldn't mind calling the absence of those social expectations "much more enlightened". I'd even argue that the future of civilization depends on spreading the sex-positive enthusiastic-consent gender-liberation message...

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  28. Hershele OstropolerAugust 1, 2011 at 2:31 PM

    Just because, you know, as a queer teenager, you tend to believe you are ALL ALONE FOREVER and there are maybe 3 other gay people in the entire world and they can't possibly all go to school with you. That doesn't make sense.

    How recently was this true? Because I've written (but not shared) a whole paragraph about this, about the one thing even straight kinky people and even vanilla GLB (and possibly T) people seem to generally share with each other -- or did at one time -- but not typically with straight vanilla cis people, which is a world around them when they first start realizing the're different that says, at best, "your desires are so weird that you're going to have to content yourself with a ittle movie in your head, every time, while your body engages in normative sex."

    In a more mainstream context her behavior may be weird, but it's not something to flip out over, so I had to really control my reaction even though I consider touching hair as something you MUST have consent for.

    I should think in any context touching someone without their consent is assault. Not necessarily something to call the cops over every time (though, my stars the ass-kicking I would get, deservedly, if I said that about rape) but near the top of the ladder of Not OK.

    Mature adults don't talk about intimate matters with those who are not intimates

    Well, ok, but why is sex an "intimate matter"? Holly's not talking about fights (or makeouts) with her boyfriend, the text version of a PDA, which I admit I would find offputting -- for being asymmetrical if nothing else. But sex isn't always an intimate activity, nor need it be.

    Mature adults don't go around talking about their sex lives -- or about themselves, generally -- to anyone who will or won't listen, but since that's one of the things this blog is quite openly about, that's not an issue here either.

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  29. Eli - I'm really not that cultural-relativist about this (see also: the entire rest of my blog), but I do recognize that it's cultural norms to them, not just opinions.

    I think for a lot of people, nonstandard sexuality hits them not in the "I disagree with this!" place, but in the "that simply isn't done!" place, and it's important to keep that in mind when dealing with people who aren't fans of nonstandard sexuality.

    It doesn't mean that they're right, just that their beliefs are firmly enough entrenched that if I'm at the job and they didn't volunteer to hear an extended lecture on "What is a 'man,' anyway?", I'll alienate myself more than I educate them if I raise a fuss every time they say "men love cars."

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  30. Emma: @Brin - I hope this isn't too prying, but I've never met anyone who said they were species-queer, and I'm curious what you mean by it.

    Well, it started when I was six, and started going to Girl Scouts*. Basically, every other girl seemed...well, alien to me. If that was what human girls were like, I wanted no part of it.
    I eventually learned it was more complicated than that: I met other people who weren't like the Scouts, and when I was thirteen, I learned I was autistic.
    Clearly, I a: was not as different as I'd thought, and b: had other explanations that didn't require aliens. By then, though, it had become a part of me, not merely an explanation but a thing unto itself.

    *Note that I'm homeschooled. While there were plenty of homeschool gatherings, Girl Scouts was my primary contact with "normal" kids.

    Do you not identify with human physiology?

    Lucky me, I ended up with a species that was still humanoid**. I'm fine with my basic shape. I am not a Changeling, but the way I picture myself does happen to resemble them (not so much the slicked-back hair).
    The main result of the mismatch between body and mental image is that I don't identify with my face. I wonder sometimes what it's like to look in a mirror and feel, intuitively, "That's me." Apparently other people do that, but not me. (Of course, the prosopagnosia has a lot to do with that as well. Might even be sufficient on its own.)

    **I'm not really comfortable telling the name to other people. Suffice to say that they appear to be unique to me: Googling gets you only misspellings of other things and my own posts on a fanfiction forum. (I told the people there they were part of an original fiction that will probably never leave my head, which is kind of true.)

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  31. Small-Minded AnonAugust 1, 2011 at 4:11 PM

    @Brin

    So how do you propose this all works? I have serious trouble believing in the sort of mind/body duality that this all seems to rely on.

    It honestly sounds to me a lot like you've just read some fantasy novels and really really like the escapism of it all. That wouldn't mean you're 'species-queer': quite the opposite. It would mean you're human.

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  32. Small-Minded Anon: I don't think it's possible to judge other people's subjective perception of their existence. And maybe more importantly, I don't think it's necessary. Brin's asking you for $0 and 0 minutes of your time, and causing 0 harm to anyone. There's no reason to conduct an investigation.

    I mean, maybe their name isn't "really" Brin, either, but no one goes "if it isn't on your birth certificate you're just fantasizing and that can't be your real name so I refuse to call you by it."

    This goes right down to the root of what "reality" is, but it doesn't need to--easier just to go with the general principle that when someone tells you what's going on in their head, they probably know better than you.

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  33. Small-Minded AnonAugust 1, 2011 at 4:29 PM

    @Holly:

    That is a pretty good argument and one which I can't reasonably rebut. It's certainly true that it doesn't cost anything for me to appease these fantasies of his/hers/its/whatever.

    I am, in fact, reminded of the post you made about your initial reaction to that 'LoonyBrain' character where the gist I got was that, while you aren't entirely comfortable with the idea of 'multiplicity', you don't have any reason not to play along. Along perhaps-similar lines, I think my stance is now that, while this idea of being 'species-queer' doesn't really sit with me at all, there's no real point in kicking down their sandcastles.

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  34. I think that being aggressively condescending about it is still some serious sandcastle-kicking.

    But this isn't a matter of "it does no harm, so humor them."

    It's a matter of "it does no harm and I have no way of knowing, so take their word for it."

    People's self-images mismatch with their bodies all the time. I don't think I'm in a position to judge which of those mismatches are "legitimate" and which aren't.

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  35. Small-Minded AnonAugust 1, 2011 at 4:53 PM

    "I think that being aggressively condescending about it is still some serious sandcastle-kicking."

    Oh, I agree - that's why I stopped.

    "But this isn't a matter of "it does no harm, so humor them."

    It's a matter of "it does no harm and I have no way of knowing, so take their word for it.""

    If I will let them have their fun, let me have mine. Maybe in my magical fantasy image of the world, I'm right and everybody else is wrong.

    "People's self-images mismatch with their bodies all the time"

    I'm generally inclined to think in these cases that these people have their self-images wrong. It does happen all the time when it comes to things like anorexia, and I don't think it's any different elsewhere - though obviously not nearly as bad for the person's health. I'm not using anorexia as an example because of its obviously negative connotations, just as an example of someone having a body-image completely out of line with reality.

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  36. Oh, I agree - that's why I stopped.
    No you didn't. People's lives are not fantasies or "sandcastles."

    Maybe in my magical fantasy image of the world, I'm right and everybody else is wrong.
    That violates the "no harm" part of it. (As does anorexia; it's a problem because people with anorexia harm themselves, not because they're "wrong.")

    I'm generally inclined to think in these cases that these people have their self-images wrong.
    And they're inclined to think that they're right. I say they get first pick.

    Also, I don't see "reality" as one thing. If someone makes a claim contrary to consensus reality--they say they have three arms and I only see two--that can be objectively false. But if someone makes a claim about their personal reality, about things they state have no physical manifestation, how on Earth can I know?

    Without reading someone's mind, I have no ability (and no reason) to say "you're wrong about what's in your mind." I'm not sure that even can be a factual statement.

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  37. Brin, thanks for sharing when I'm sure you're sick of reactions like the above! Do you mind me asking if your parents are the same species as you?

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  38. Breaking news! Transsexuality is a dangerous delusion identical to anorexia nervosa!

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  39. Small-Minded AnonAugust 1, 2011 at 5:25 PM

    You've basically won this argument, but I still disagree in the irrational, emotional sort of way you described in a blog post recently!

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  40. Small-Minded AnonAugust 1, 2011 at 5:26 PM

    Oh, come on, Greenling, I made it explicit that that's not the sort of connection I was trying to imply:

    "I'm not using anorexia as an example because of its obviously negative connotations, just as an example of someone having a body-image completely out of line with reality."

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  41. Emma: Brin, thanks for sharing when I'm sure you're sick of reactions like the above!

    That's why I don't generally tell people. I figured this was the sort of place where I could.
    The only other place I've talked about it, on the Slacktiverse, everyone was accepting.

    Do you mind me asking if your parents are the same species as you?

    Dad's a dog. Mom may or may not have ursine tendencies. No idea about Brother.

    Small-Minded Anon: Oh, come on, Greenling, I made it explicit that that's not the sort of connection I was trying to imply:

    "I'm not using anorexia as an example because of its obviously negative connotations, just as an example of someone having a body-image completely out of line with reality."


    So why didn't you use transgenderism, if you didn't want the negative connotations of anorexia? Sounds like it would be a better comparison to me.

    Thank you so much for your help, Holly!

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  42. Small-Minded AnonAugust 1, 2011 at 6:16 PM

    @Erin:

    Well, I thought that, by explaining that that's what I was trying to avoid, it wouldn't matter? I have a faith in the reading comprehension abilities of my readership that is perhaps unwarranted.

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  43. @Small-Minded Anon

    Someone is a poor loser. neener neener neeener!

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  44. What is the M&M art on the left? I assume its some sort of flag, but it is unfamiliar to me.

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  45. It's the leather pride flag!

    Properly it should be white in the middle, but I had to work within the limitations of my medium.

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  46. Holly: It's the leather pride flag!

    Ooh! Knowledge!
    [insert "The More You Know" logo here, because apparently I'm not allowed to embed images]

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  47. I'm generally inclined to think in these cases that these people have their self-images wrong. It does happen all the time when it comes to things like anorexia, and I don't think it's any different elsewhere - though obviously not nearly as bad for the person's health. I'm not using anorexia as an example because of its obviously negative connotations, just as an example of someone having a body-image completely out of line with reality.

    SMA - y'know, I've got pretty good reading comprehension skills. (It's true. I've got the test scores to back that up.) And I'm reading your post, and I get your disclaimer, but all the disclaimers in the world don't really change the fact that you just compared self-identity issues to an eating disorder. You compared the essential question of who someone truly is, as a person, to a destructive and potentially deadly mental disorder caused by low self esteem. They have not invented the disclaimer that makes that okay.

    Look, I get what you were trying to do. You needed an example of someone who has a false disconnect between their idea of themselves and their actual selves in order to make your point, and you grabbed anorexia. Unfortunately, that was a poor choice. Because a) despite some surface similarities, it really doesn't have much in common with the issues we're talking about here, and therefore is only marginally applicable, and b) it really does carry some hefty negative connotations. Your disclaimer, well-meant though it may have been, doesn't erase those connotations.

    So... your comparison was both weak and quite offensive. (And you knew it was offensive, or you wouldn't have bothered with the disclaimer.) The only reason I can think of for using it anyway, therefore, is that you couldn't think of a better comparison to make your point with. Which... kinda says a lot.

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  48. @Hershele Ostropoler

    I started going through the whole self-discovery kick around 6th grade, so 1997-1998.

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  49. @Holly re:leather pride flag

    Does that mean you consider yourself part of the leather scene, or did you just feel like doing that specific flag in M&Ms?

    In the first case, I'd love to read your thoughts about it sometime, since all your other posts about the things that make you you are always entertaining and interesting reads too.

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  50. 3:10 - I consider myself part of the BDSM scene. I feel like "leather" is a slightly different thing that I'm not.

    I would consider myself covered under the auspices of that flag, though.

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  51. I think my coworkers don't understand why I jump three feet when they casually lay a friendly arm across my shoulders

    I had this for years and years before I acknowledged the fact I was kinky- at the time I blamed it on extensive martial arts training(more then a decade and counting:), but I suspect the only difference that made is in the final result: I tend to go to "fight" rather then "flight" mode, and it frightens most people.

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  52. Hershele OstropolerAugust 2, 2011 at 2:40 PM

    I'm disinclined to argue with anyone over their perception of themselves. If I'm the world's leading expert on me, presumably that's true for everyone else too.

    @Andy: Oh, wow, you're way younger than I am. I would think by 1998 -- certainly by 2003 -- the Internet would spread Ugol's Law to the masses.

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  53. Holly, I'm curious whether your kink social circle covers a wide age span, or if you're in close step in terms of career/family status. (And what you think of that.)

    I did not know I wanted it, until I found it, but I now perceive a lot of benefit in having people a full generation or more older than me, among my closer friends. (Perhaps this is somewhat specific to parenting.)

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  54. Camilla - My social circle tends to be people around my age, but there's also an older generation and I'm friendly with people my parents' age in the scene.

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  55. OMG! I just realized that in my own way, I am species-queer, and have always been! Thank you for that, Brin!

    I mean, I identify as human as a species, but at the same time, I often refer to humans as "they" and "them." I guess I don't identify with "humanity" so much.

    I'm not sure yet what exactly I think or feel - this is the first time I've ever articulated anything like this. I'm not sure I feel the need to articulate it, but I am thankful for the realization.

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  56. T6 - yeah, that's always been one of the oddest things about hearing someone describe a phenomenon I've never heard of before. My immediate, knee-jerk reaction is often to say (or at least think) something dismissive, like "oh, you're not 'species-queer,' everyone feels like that sometimes. Heck, I feel like that."

    And then generally about that point I have to sit back and go "Waaaaiiit a minute..." :)

    While I've ultimately decided that I'm not genderqueer and probably not species-queer (or any of the other fascinating non-standard identities I've learned about), the fact that I've had to really think about it to determine that has made me realize that I should probably just take such things at face value, rather than dismissing them.

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  57. @T6

    You're welcome! It's always nice when reading what somebody else's written sparks some insight, and I'm glad I could help with that.

    @Everyone
    If you're looking to do more research, I found out a couple years back that the usual word is "otherkin". (I did mention that back in the first comment, but it's not as noticeable.) I don't use it much: it seems to imply some stuff I don't have, like mysticism and phantom limbs*. You might find useful or at least interesting stuff searching for that. (Of course, you'll also find dismissive people, but that's to be expected.)

    *Then again, what phantom limbs could I have? I haven't got any wings or tails or other major deviations from your basic humanoid.

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  58. The unkinky world is simultaneously more reserved and less polite, if that makes sense; there's more concern about being obscene and less about being intrusive.

    That makes a fuckeload of sense! Even thought I'm not sexually kinky, I am socially kinky, and when I deal with people who don't understand me, I feel exactly what you describe.

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  59. RE: Brin

    Sneak: Hi Brin! We know lots of otherkin/therian/furry type of people; they run in poly circles a lot. We mostly know robots, but we know a few other types of people too, and a good few of them are on the autistic spectrum. If you ever want to meet anyone, we can totally hook you up! :D

    RE: Anon 3:58

    Rogan: It's true! I'm actually asking people to CALL ME BY NAME. It's all a plot to get you people accustomed to my deviance; just wait and see. The next thing you know, all you fucking singlets will be my human furniture! MWAHAHAHA!

    RE: Small-Minded Anon

    Rogan: We actually prefer the term CharacterS. You know. Since there's five of us.

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  60. Hi, Sneak!
    (I must admit to feeling a little star-struck. Every link trail I follow seems to lead to you guys eventually, much like all roads lead to Rome. It helps that the autistic and plural blogospheres overlap a lot: start in one and you'll soon end up in the other.)

    If you ever want to meet anyone, we can totally hook you up! :D

    I know my dad goes on furmeets occasionally. They're almost always held at other furries' houses or restaurants 1 - 1.5 hours away. Dad did have a raccoon friend/employee over once, but they stayed in the back room and I got the sense nobody but the two of them was supposed to listen in. I said hello, but that was it.

    The logistics of meet-ups that aren't hypothetically tagging-along-with-Dad would be very tricky. I'm seventeen (so I need parental permission for stuff), live in a small town without bus service, and I haven't quite finished reading the driver's-ed manual. Thanks for the offer, though!

    (Psst, Rogan! Anon 3:58 and Small-Minded Anon are the same person. I referred to them as such in my initial reply, and they adopted the insult.)

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  61. Me: much like all roads lead to Rome

    Well, okay, maybe not like that. All roads led to Rome because Rome built the road system. But still.

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  62. RE: Brin

    Sneak: Actually, most of the folks I mentioned we know online, so we’d probably only be useful for online chatting or penpalling anyway. Though I guess we know enough that our odds aren’t TOO terrible of finding someone near you, if you’re in the USA. Still not great though… <.<

    Rogan: D’oh. Smart Rogan is smart. I thought I’d seen SMA comment around in the past and thought that they and Anonymous 3:58 were different. Obviously I need work on my reading comprehension. Also, I am still shocked that people seem to know who we are; how did THAT happen?

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  63. I could've written that whole second paragraph myself.

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  64. Sneak: Actually, most of the folks I mentioned we know online, so we’d probably only be useful for online chatting or penpalling anyway.

    Ah, that makes sense. Not really sure what to say to that (although some thoughts are going through my mind about how the keyboard-pal I already have I haven't gotten around to writing back to in ten months).

    if you’re in the USA.

    Canada. Near enough to the US border to be able to drive there, shop, and drive back in the same day, but far enough to only go there three or four times a year to stock up on American delicacies (such as Cheez-Its).

    Rogan: Also, I am still shocked that people seem to know who we are; how did THAT happen?

    It happens* like this. Or sometimes like* this.

    *This blog has a different URL than it did at the time, so I'm giving the new one.

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  65. maxwellsilverhammerAugust 8, 2011 at 6:49 PM

    "You compared the essential question of who someone truly is, as a person, to a destructive and potentially deadly mental disorder caused by low self esteem. They have not invented the disclaimer that makes that okay."

    There is the legitimate question of what constitutes a mental disorder.

    As I understand it, most mental contemporary health professionals consider mental illnesses to be conditions which make their subject unhappy, and reduce the patients ability to function in society.

    For some people, conditions which are traditionally thought of as mental illnesses don't make them less happy, or reduce their ability to function. For example, there are some people who live quite happily with their schizophrenia. So in these cases, mental health professions won't try to change their patients.

    ""I'm not using anorexia as an example because of its obviously negative connotations, just as an example of someone having a body-image completely out of line with reality."

    So why didn't you use transgenderism, if you didn't want the negative connotations of anorexia? Sounds like it would be a better comparison to me."

    So by these criterion, anorexia would be considered a mental disorder, because it causes physical harm and mental anguish, while transgenderism would not, because accepting one's gender identity will ideally result in greater happiness and function.

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  66. RE: Brin

    Cheezits? Really? BLEARGH! Ritz crackers are totally superior.

    --Rogan

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  67. That said, depending where you ARE in Canada, we know a few robots in Washington that would probably be happy to meet other AS-spectrum nonhumans. Also a bunch of folks all over the scale in Maine, but not sure if they're interested in socializing. Both are plural systems. Those are the closest folks who come to mind...

    --Rogan

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  68. It's possible you just don't like Cheez-Its, but I should point out that they have quite a bit of variability between batches. Dad and I have been known to, say, clear out the store of sell-by-November-2011s and ignore the sucky Octobers.
    (I can also distinguish chocolate-covered almond and cheddar Goldfish batches by taste, although they generally don't fluctuate to the point of being sometimes unpalatable. Brin Bellway, junk food connoisseur (connoisseuse?).)

    Ontario's not close to Washington or Maine.

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  69. When you said kinky knitting circle, all I could picture was me sitting in my room and going, "No rope. Hmmm. I bet I could crochet something workable from my yarn stash!" Because this is the way my brain works. I'm aware that this wasn't the concept intended, but it made me grin nonetheless. I have actually considered crochet for bondage purposes.

    (Also, I was knitting while reading this post, which just made me grin harder.)

    -Trish

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  70. "I play [i]board games[/i] where everyone around the table is kinky."

    This sounds like a recipe for either the worst or the best round of Battlestar Galactica ever.

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  71. I have only been reading your blog for a couple of weeks, but it's already changing how I react to some things. I have always been baffled by things like racism and sexism. We are all the same, human. Everyones different and the same.

    But I have always just accepted some aspects of it, like boys and girls seem to like different toys, even if we are just raised to like those things. Not saying it's right or can't be changed but I have just had to go with it to socially function (bad way of expressing what I mean).

    Point is, today we were continuing planning our c/w project and someone suggested a pink version of our product would increase its appeal to girls. Normally I would have thought 'I guess if it didn't work, why does everyone do it?'.
    Today I thought 'Why would pink increase appeal to girls? I'm writing in pink ink. Why is everyone finding this funny?(4M, 1F), maybe I should say something?'

    sorry that was so long and keep it up.

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